It Just Might Work: Slutwalks

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Sayaka & Anthony photoby Sayaka Matsuoka

A group of students at UNCG organized the first slutwalk of the Triad in 2011. Since then, no scantily clad feminists have marched the streets of Greensboro, Winston-Salem or High Point. The provocatively named protest marches originated in Toronto after a police officer suggested that women should “avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution to sexual assault. What followed became an international movement.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the percentage of completed or attempted rapes among women in higher educational institutions is between 20 and 25 percent. There are 13 colleges and universities in the Triad area with over 60,000 students enrolled. With so many college campuses — hotbeds for sexual assault — the Triad seems a perfect place to host another slutwalk.

The Washington Post reports there were about 50 alleged forcible sex offenses on Triad campuses between 2010 and 2012. And those were just the ones that were reported, while the majority remained undocumented. A large component of “rape culture” is that, rather than accusing and putting pressure on rapists, society can blame women for what they were wearing or how much they had to drink when the assaults took place. That culture teaches survivors that they are somehow at fault.

Movements such as slutwalk aim to eliminate that victim-blaming. Participants in a slutwalk action wear purposefully provocative clothing and march with signs that read, “No means no” or “My outfit is not an invitation.”

Although the movement has caused ample controversy, with people calling out the lack of women of color and transgender women in the marches, the Triad is home to diverse groups of women and LGBTQ residents, making a more inclusive event possible.

With society regularly blaming survivors for the crimes committed against them and often people rallying behind rapists rather than supporting their victims, slutwalk raises awareness about the severity of these crimes and how to support those affected. Plus, it’s empowering for the participants, or survivors who so often feel pressure to remain silent.

It’s time for the “sluts” to march again.

  • Natalie

    Is there a slutwalk for 2015 scheduled?

  • Sayaka Matsuoka

    We’re working on it! Find me on Facebook!