These are excerpts from published interviews or blogs that epitomize the movement, its motivations, and its consequences. They were all written after the immediate backlash, support, and general critique and commentary about the movement.
“We chose the name of what we’re doing consciously—we wanted to get attention because we want people to talk about this and pay attention to sexual assault, revictimization and victim blaming…”
“I don’t think it’s valuable for people in certain parts of the world, who live in fear, to pick up the word slut and call it a day. But this is something we’ve seen done before—language can shift, language can change…”
“But we intended to say: “You took this word, Officer Who Is A Representative Of The Police Force, and we’re throwing it right back at you.””
“People need to understand what sexual assault is about, and how to get consent.”
“People from outside of Canada are saying we haven’t engaged “Us, as people of color,” and I’m left wondering who that universal “us” is? One of our organizers is a woman of color and part of our speeches on the day of our SlutWalk addressed our more local experience of Indigenous populations, multiculturalism, and women of color in Toronto. So it’s much more complicated than all or nothing.”
“Thinking a lot about…how not to perpetuate the oppressive structures that have often characterized white-led feminist movements in the past.”
“It’s not easy to look your privilege in the face, but it is entirely necessary.”
“We as organizers have jettisoned the idea of reclaiming ‘slut’ as an organizing goal as it is simply too problematic for so many people.”
“Instead, I see the contentious name of our event – SlutWalk – as a name that both joins us to work being done by other organizers (including the original Toronto organizers) and gets at the heart of how sexual double standards and rape culture are connected.”
“We have an opportunity because of the media attention and energy centered around the SlutWalks to bring folks together, to talk about what the movement to end rape culture will look like going forward.”
Jaclyn is a feminist, writer, and activist. She has co-edited the book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. She is the Executive Director of the activist group Women, Action, and the Media. Liz Pelly interviewed Friedman and published her interview on May 5, 2011 on the Phoenix Blog. (At this point Friedman had not been to a SlutWalk.)
“One of the things I love about the SlutWalk is that it’s for something, it’s not just against something.”
“A lot of times when women get called sluts it’s because we’re being too loud and opinionated or acting in ways that are considered out of bounds for nice, proper young ladies, and it really is a form of social control.”
“Part of what happens is that our conception of the kind of rape that quote-unquote counts or gets taken seriously is a stranger jumping out of the bushes and attacking a very innocent young girl who is, you know, walking home from church choir practice, right. And the reality is that over 80% of sexual assaults are committed by people who know their victims, and often times there’s alcohol involved.”
“If women want to be slutty, I’m all for it. But if women don’t want to be slutty, I’m all for that too. The point is that its nobody’s business and it has nothing to do with whether or not someone has the right to violate us.”
” It’s not about saying we should all identify as sluts all the time. It’s a political act of solidarity with people who have been harmed by the label. We are standing with women who have been accused of sluthood and told that it makes the violence done to them not matter.”
Six Reasons Amanda Marcotte, a Leading Feminist and SlutWalk Participant, Supports the SlutWalks as a Form of Anti-Rape Protest
1. Humor and fun
“We’re fighting rape culture, which has been the culture for at least as long as humans have been able to write. It’s going to be a long battle and victory is probably many generations into the future. If we can’t have a laugh while fighting this fight, we’re going to drown in despair.”
“SlutWalk’s message is that anyone can be dismissed with the word “slut” for speaking out against sexual abuse. The crowd responded by either wearing whatever they want, wearing the clothes they were raped or harassed in, or wearing some parody version of what people imagine “sluts” wear.”
3. Reversal of expectations
“SlutWalk gets your buy-in with the anti-rape message, and then sells you on the idea that rape is more than a crime against a single woman but part of a larger system that robs women of our freedom, our pleasure, and our right to live as we see fit.”
4. SlutWalks attract attention.
“SlutWalk garnered more onlookers than I’ve ever seen at a protest. Many people came to gawk at the funny clothes and the people having a good time at their protest, and were impressed by the message. The walk got bigger as it went along, in part because of latecomers but it also seemed to attract some people who simply agreed with the message.”
5. SlutWalks have a broad appeal.
“We are all affected by rape culture. The march featured people of different races, ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities, but all of us had felt the sting of victim-blaming for sexual violence.”
6. Women demanding the right to be sexual beings without shame is deeply threatening to many.
“Even pro-choice, anti-rape feminists sometimes blanch about unapologetically saying that women are sexual beings who deserve to pursue our pleasures without being punished with it by unintended pregnancy, forced childbirth, sexually transmitted infections, or rape.”