The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.
In January 2011, young women from York University were attending a campus presentation on rape prevention. York University had recently seen some brazen attacks on women, including a rape in the stacks of the University library. One of the Toronto police officers involved in the presentation shocked the women by remarking that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” In other words, women are responsible for the behavior of others. You know, blame the victim.
But the young women of Toronto were not cowed and quickly organized SlutWalk Toronto to draw attention to the mindset of those they felt should protect society. Although the Toronto Police issued a statement reaffirming their commitment to assault victims and distancing themselves from the statement of the officer, the damage had been done, and the women were marching their discontent to the doors of the police department.
Founders of the event noted that the “Toronto Police have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of the “slut” and in doing so, failed us.”
The organizers are planning to make SlutWalk an annual event and are hoping to expand to cities throughout the world to make society conscious that victims of sexual assault are not to blame for the acts of others.
To thumb their noses at the mentality that women are to blame for their assaults, some of the SlutWalk participants wore outrageous outfits saying in effect that women should be safe anywhere regardless of their attire. That wearing a short skirt does not give anyone the right to violate your basic human rights. According to one sign held aloft at SlutWalk “Don’t tell us what to wear, tell men not to rape us.”
The same mentality that blames women who are sexually assaulted because of their clothing is the same mentality that endorses shrouding women in burquas because it says that men are not able to demonstrate self-control.