SlutWalk began in Toronto in February of 2011. It began because a few people had had ENOUGH of victim-blaming, of slut-shaming and sexual profiling and policing. They had enough of being angry, of facing violence and harassment, of wanting better education, awareness and treatment and not seeing more about it. The protective services in Toronto, Canada, among many people, had put the responsibility of sexual assault where it didn’t belong and were continuing to spread myths and stereotypes about who is sexually assaulted and why, and this was nothing new – it was in a long line of violence, ingrained into institutions and our culture. SlutWalk brings together thousands of people across gender, sex, race, age, ability, class, education, profession, experience, background and interest to fight these damaging ideas.
They also got together to say ‘slut’ did not have to be accepted as a word used against us to harm us but that we have a stake in the language used to describe us, it could be something we could challenge, it could be re-appropriated to be something different. They’ve always encouraged people to be comfortable in how they approach things, respond to things, how they dress and in who they are. There is no prescription on what someone involved in SlutWalk needs to look like, be like, say, do or identify as. We don’t all look alike, we don’t all act alike, we don’t all come from the same experiences or identities but we can fight together and make things change.
Before they knew it people, were doing just what we hoped for and were talking about these things and coming together to challenge the damaging things they wanted to see change. Then other people in other cities contacted Toronto wanting to take up this cause, take up the conversations in the approach we’ve taken and get into action in some of the ways we are acting. This wasn’t a goal they aimed for in other places but it was something they wanted to encourage once it began.
Now ‘sibling’ SlutWalks are happening across many different communities, different cities, different countries, in different languages and with different people. These are founded by people in the individual cities who feel the need to publicly challenge sexual violence and issues specific to where they are. SlutWalks around the world are volunteer run with people wanting to get into action.