SlutWalk coming to Vancouver in May

Toronto's SlutWalk, held April 3, drew more than 1000 protesters. Photo from Marcel and Me.

On April 3, over 1000 protesters took to the streets of Toronto as part of an event called SlutWalk. The event was created to protest a comment made by a Toronto Police representative, who, speaking to York University students, asserted: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

The remark and SlutWalk event sparked a public debate about the term "slut" and now spin off events are happening across the country, with a march being organized for Vancouver for May 15. Organizers of the Vancouver march point out that the attitude of victim-blaming expressed by the Toronto Police officer wasn't isolated. A Saanich Police representative recently drew fire for encouraging women to "Travel in groups, stick to well-lit areas, be mindful of your drink, where you leave it, and who you accept a drink from", a remark that was seen by some as putting the onus on women to avoid being raped, rather than on attackers to stop assaulting women (the Saanich PD has since said they were misquoted).

SlutWalk Vancouver organizers are hoping they can pull off an even bigger turnout than Toronto. Approximately 2500 people have already RSVP-ed on Facebook and they're hoping to get at least 1500 of those people to the event. While a final location hasn't been confirmed, it will most likely take place downtown, with participants marching from the downtown library to the Art Gallery via the Granville Strip. SWV isn't partnering with local organizations but they are working to establish a list of allied organizations, which they hope will be posted on their website next week.

I interviewed organizer Katie Raso about the idea behind SWV and how they're dealing with the debate around the event name and concept.

Raso said the main focus of SWV is the same as SlutWalk in Toronto: "We work within Toronto's mission of aiming to create a safe, inclusive space wherein people can speak out against the culture of victim blaming and sex shaming that excuses away acts of sexual violence," Raso stated.

But some commenters on news sites and radio shows discussing the march have argued the event is just encouraging women to dress provocatively  in public and promote promiscuous behaviour. And organizers have noticed the same backlash on their Facebook page. But Raso says that's not the point of the event at all.

"We are recommending that people dress however they normally would dress, however they feel comfortable. There is a popular misconception that we are asking people to 'dress like sluts' which is completely contrary to our mission," Raso argues. She notes the point of the walk is to challenge how the label is used.

"We recognize that 'slut" is most commonly used in our culture to denote a woman who is assumed to be sexually promiscuous because of how she is dressed, or because of her mannerisms, and that as a 'slut' she is worth less and deserves less protection. The SWV organizers recognize that there is no such thing as dressing like a slut, and no one ever dresses for assault. Step one to confronting this notion is coming to the walk dressed however you normally would," says Raso.

Raso is also encouraging supporters and participants to volunteer and to help publicize the event.

"What we need right now are people to help with fundraising, and activity planning. Folks who want to support the cause can check out our website for more details:", Raso says.

But even more important, according to the SWV organizers, is having conversations about SlutWalk and the rape victim-blaming culture it's taking on.

Raso sees that as the real power of SlutWalk: it's ability to "start dialogues about victim blaming, how pervasive it is, and how to confront the challenges related to victim blaming and shaming. The incredible number of satellite walks popping up indicates to me how ready people are to have these conversations and the SWVancouver organizing collective is thrilled to foster dialogues in our community."

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i forget it was gonna be in toronto and a missed it, i hope they do it next year, i heard it is a good event to pick up women easier than usaul

Right on, hopefully they'll

Right on, hopefully they'll be flaunting tits 'n ass. No 'fried eggs' please!

There was over 3000 people at

There was over 3000 people at the Toronto event, it was amazing and I hope that Vancouver at the very least matches in numbers.

The cop makes a valid point.

I am not a rapist. I do think it's a horrible act that should be taken serously; but as a man, If I was going to rape anyone I would be more inclined to rape a girl showing off the goods rather than 40 year old lady.

I think hurrr missed the point

Which is that no one has the right to rape anyone, regardless of how they're dressed. Just like it's illegal for someone to steal your car, no matter how valuable it would be to re-sell it. No one says having a nicer car means someone's just asking for it to get stolen. Rape is a crime and women should be able to go out feeling safe no matter what they're wearing. Saying rapists are inevitably going to target women "showing off the goods" implies rape is inevitable.


What many, if not most, women miss, is that it's not the clothes, it's your choices.

People who commit these crimes don't give a flying *$%* what you are wearing, but if you feel like walking home alone late at night you are putting yourself in a dangerous situation.  It has ALWAYS been this way.

Wake the hell up and realize that.  Take the focus from your damned ugly clothes and practice safer practices.  Pay for that cab ride, etc.

I recognize that not all rape situations are as such.  Many times it is someone you know.  If you feel at all uncomfortable, LEAVE, text someone about it and let them know how you are feeling so they have the chance to help.

The problem is women feel too "safe" and forget that it's something that has always been around and you always need to be wary of it.  YOU don't notice the signs.

Brian missed the point too

Men who blame women for rape are just looking for further justification to commit it. If I dress up for a night out with my friends, or walk home by myself, I am NOT asking to be raped. You're making the assumption that it's natural for men to rape women if they're dressed a certain way or make certain "choices", and we should just take it, or find ways to prevent it. This is wrong. It is NOT the women's fault she got raped, it is the RAPIST'S fault. There should be a campaign that states the obvious: HEY GUYS. IT'S NOT OKAY TO RAPE WOMEN. STOP DOING IT!!!! 

I have every right to wear a damn mini-skirt if I want to. As a society we should be looking for ways to get men to stop raping women, instead of looking for ways for women to "prevent" rape. Because THAT'S where the problem lies, men raping innocent victims! I'm not enticing you to rape me by wearing certain clothes or staying out late! I assure you that's the last thing I want! 

Blaming women for rape is just another attempt by sexually frustrated rednecks to "keep women in check." 


Theres a few things we must

Theres a few things we must understand.

When a rape is committed, regardless if its man/woman being the victim/prepatrator it is ALWAYS the RAPIST'S fault.

But, there are certain measures the potiential victim could take to migitate the chances of being raped. Though its not the fault of that vicitm if he/she does get raped. For example, not wondering in dark alleys alone would be a good measure against potiential rapes or assaults. And also we can't ignore clothing is a factor as well. If a women chooses to dress expressively (and i say this with all do respect) the potential rapist could interpret it reflective of her promiscuity. The rapist is 100% guilty here, but why take the chance that a drunk psychopath might see the revealing your wearing as a sigh for him to engage you?

You can see this in another light. If one takes a Bently to the Downtown East Side and park it right at Main and East Hastings doesn't nessearily mean the owner wants the car to be broken into. And if it is broken into/ stolen the thieft should be punished to the utmost of the law. But then why park a $200k in the DTE in the first place?

I don't see why commiting a pre-cautionary action might entail such negative feed back. In a sane world this would not be an issue, but then again not everyone is sane here.

There's no such thing as

There's no such thing as "dressing like a slut" because there's no such thing as a 'slut'. So why isn't this a primary message of the action? Why are women marching under the banner 'Slutwalk' and calling themselves 'sluts'? The organisers state on their wesbite that they won't tolerate hate language. What exactly is the term 'slut' then? A compliment? Would it be OK for someone to go there and hurl vicious, sexist slurs at everyone as long as they leave a disclaimer that hey, they're just 'reclaiming the language'? I doubt it. I'm not surprised that the organisers are spending so much time in the media trying to diffuse misundertandings about what this protest is about. The message seems very confused.