Saturday 04 June 2011: SlutWalk Chicago
It all started when a police officer in Toronto suggested that if women stopped dressing like sluts, they wouldn’t get raped as much. The point of the SlutWalk (in cities worldwide) is to raise awareness about the realities of rape culture, and to speak out against this popular misconception that rape victims are asking for it.
“No means No! Yes means Yes! Wherever we go! However we dress!”
Though it would be easy to demonize this policeman because his ignorant (however well-intentioned) comment symbolizes a greater sentiment in our culture that sluts get raped, the point is to challenge this belief at large. “Sluts are all daughters,” as one sign read today in the march. Sluts are firstly taught to be “slutty” by the hyper-sexualized media all around them from a pre-pubescent age, and then they are subjected to criticisms, verbal abuse, and even blame for having a violent crime committed upon them. The act of being raped inflicts a disgusting array of emotions upon the victim, the least of which include rage, fear, and shame. No victim deserves to be further scrutinized by human beings who should, rather, support and seek understanding and enact positive change on the issue. And certainly no victim is “asking for it;” my short skirt is not an invitation. The “enemy” here is a culture which silently condones rape by not speaking out against it. Each SlutWalker today challenged this enemy head on.
“Hey-Hey! Ho-Ho! Sexual assault has got to go!”
I want to clarify what rape is, and is not.
It’s not rape…
if you yell SURPRISE!
if s(he) likes it!
if it’s consensual!
Rape is a violent sexual crime that breaks the human spirit. Consensual sex is an intimate act which unites two human spirits.
“Gays! Straights! Blacks! Whites! All unite for womens’ rights!”
The SlutWalk Chicago facebook page offers this powerful statement as their mission: “We seek to combat a culture that teaches ‘don’t get raped,’ as opposed to ‘don’t rape.’” This distinction is the only way to successfully prevent rape. Rather than instill fear, instill responsibility.
My dream is for websites like this to no longer be considered entertainment. I don’t want the topic of rape to be something which people walk on eggshells around; I don’t think rape jokes should be forbidden; I simply want rape to be an issue which all people take seriously. I want human beings — their bodies and their boundaries — to be respected. I want an open dialogue, I want understanding, I want forgiveness, and I want a system of prevention that works.
The speaker from CAASE — Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation — gave a hope-inspiring speech to that same sentiment at SlutWalk today. From their website, its says, “CAASE has created and implemented the first curriculum in the country specifically designed to educate young men about the harms of prostitution: Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation.” He quoted a senior boy in a Chicago high school who made this analogy:
Rape is the scar on the face of American culture. It’s there, and no one talks about it.
“MY BODY! MY RULES!”