SlutWalks demand end to rape, victim-blaming

Issue 
Slutwalk march in Sydney, June 13.

SlutWalk has become a global phenomenon since Canadian policeman Constable Michael Sanguinett told a campus safety meeting “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.

Big SlutWalk rallies have retaliated against this victim-blaming that police, courts, and governments perpetuate.

People have protested in Canada, Mexico, London, Amsterdam, the US, London and Australia. Homemade placards denouncing sexual violence, supporting consensual sex and rejecting victim blaming were displayed at all the rallies.

At least 2000 people marched in Melbourne for SlutWalk on May 28. Hundreds protested on the same day in Brisbane. Two hundred and fifty Canberrans took to the mall led by a banner saying: “End Victim Blaming SlutWalk Canberra.”

In Adelaide, several hundred protesters showed up with bright red umbrellas, and defiant banners. An action is also planned for Darwin.

More than five hundred marched in Sydney on June 13. It was organised as part of the queer pride conference Camp Betty. Rally-goers braved wet conditions and public holiday train timetables.

These rallies have struck a chord and are needed given the rise in sexual violence in past years.

A 2004 Australian Bureau of Statistics report noted a rise in recorded sexual assault victims from 12,186 in 1993 to 18,237 in 2003.

The National Crime and Safety Survey estimated in 2002 that 33,000 adults were victims of sexual assault in the preceding 12 months. Of these assaults, 28,300 of the victims were women and 4800 men.

The use of term “slut” has attracted criticism. In Monique Ross’s May 27 ABC Online article about Slutwalk, applied language studies professor from the University of Queensland Roly Sussex said using the word slut was “a slap in the face to everybody”.

He said: “It’s part of a big group of words which are derogatory words about females for which English has almost no male parallels.

“It’s used principally by men about women, but also by women about women in the sense of moral standards. It’s a bad word that one should avoid ... there’s very little to be said in favour of the word.”

However, the SlutWalk rallies were an overwhelmingly positive response to Sanguinett’s “slut” slur. Their anti-violence, anti-blame message shows the feminist movement can be re-invigorated.

Comments

You should never blame the victim, ever. That is the same as blaming me for having my car robbed because i left it in south Auckland unlocked. It wasn't my fault it was the robber's. That said we, as protencil victims, should take premtive measures in order to reduce the chance of the crime happing. Which means not leaving my car unlocked in south Auckland or just plain not leaving it there in the first place. Men are attracted by sight, it is an instinctal responce crated by hormones in order to increase the change of mating and thus the change of survival of the species. I am in all support of slut walks but woman need to under stand this because by wearing a mini-skirt and a short cut top you are saying to men, even if you don't wish to, I'm hot lets have sex. Being a man i know full well this felling. But does that mean the victim is to blame? NO. While instinct will cause a man to look and stare at a women, compassion and just plain intellegance are strong enough to stop anything greater. This is the case in about 99.999 % of people. However that .001 % that ablity to gain control is non-exsitant and as such when they see a woman dressed like a slut they don't ask, is she okay with it? They just go with the first message they receve the one your clothes tell him. There are many things that increase the chance of rape just as both parking my car in south Auckland and leaving it unlocked both increase the chance of robbery. Being alone increase the chance because there is no one to help, being in a male dominated society (middle east) increase the chance because it's more exceptable. Being small increase the chance because there is less chance you'll fight back and wearing slutty clothes increases the chance as attraction is highten. Some of these such as being small cannot be change however some such as what we wear can. Control the contolables. Precortions should be taken, but once again if i don't take precortions am i to blame? No.

At least you seem to be trying to grapple with it and work out who's to blame. But since when did clothing have anything to do with rape? People can get raped regardless of what they're wearing. It's just a lame excuse to say someone was raped because of wearing "slutty" clothes (however you define that). These rallies are about making it clear to people that skimpy clothes can't excuse rape, hormones can't excuse rape, judges can't excuse rape, losing the ability to control oneself can't excuse rape, and that women (and everyone) have the right to go out in public without having to worry about this shit. The slutwalk protests are a great wake-up to people on this issue.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.