In early 2012, the streets of South Florida will be filled with sluts and slut allies. Men, women, and children of all different ages, ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, abilities, professions, and spiritualities will simultaneously gather at three separate locations – one in each of the counties – in an attempt to raise awareness and bring an end to victim blaming in situations of sexual violence.
SlutWalk is a global movement that strives to condemn a victim blaming culture, to empower victims and survivors of sexual violence, and to promote the involvement of the community to keep its members safe and bring an end to sexual violence. Sexual violence is never justifiable and victims are never at fault. We have a constitutional right to a freedom of expression and a freedom of assembly, so we are using it, and we are demanding that our voices be heard.
SlutWalk was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in response to a shocking statement made on January 24th, 2011 by a representative of the Toronto Police, who provided insight into the Force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Soon after, the first SlutWalk took place in Toronto on April 3rd, 2011. It has since evolved into a community of activists standing together to speak out against and raise awareness regarding sexual violence. After a profoundly successful SlutWalk in Toronto, the movement has grown to include more than 80 walks around the globe with thousands of participants, finally reaching South Florida in early 2012.
The use of the word “slut” in the name of our walks is intentional. It is not a celebration of “slut”, nor is it there for shock value. Historically, the term “slut” has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated. By using the word “slut” in the name of our walks, we directly challenge the use of shame as a weapon and “sluttiness” as a justification for victimization. We are here to publicly reject the victim-blaming mentality in the media and in popular culture and demand change.
“Rape is something that is grossly underreported both on a personal level, as well as on local and national levels. By not speaking out against attacks, we’re almost siding with the perceived notion that being a victim is something to be ashamed of, when, in fact, we should be shouting out against the very idea of keeping rape and sexual violence a dirty little secret,” said SlutWalk South Florida’s co-organizer, Lindsey Hansen. “This is not something to be swept under the rug,” added SlutWalk South Florida’s co-organizer, Jessica Levinson. “At its very core, sexual violence is abhorrent and the silence needs to end. I am very pleased to be able to lend my voice to this cause.”