Slut Walk Philadelphia

On Saturday, August 6th, 2011, I attended Slut Walk Philadelphia. The Slut Walk movement began in Toronto in January when a cop told a group of female students that if they didn’t want to get raped they should not dress like sluts. The women in the audience decided that they were fed up with the victim blaming and slut-shaming that is so common and organized a protest called Slut Walk to show that what a woman wears has nothing to do with sexual assault. Read the full story here.

This movement has galvanized women across the country, especially younger women, and inspired them to take action against this perceived link between attire and sexual assault. The Slut Walk in Philadelphia was held on the same day as San Francisco and Helsinki, Finland held their events, and similar events have taken place around the country and the world.

I actually missed the walk portion of the event, as I was running about an hour late, but I arrived at City Hall seemingly right on time for the rally portion. The host for the rally was Jake Aryeh Marcus, who also served as legal counsel for the event. The speakers at the rally were Hannah Altman, who was the primary organizer of the event, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, State Senator Daylin Leach (D – Montgomery County), Stephanie Gilmore, Deepa Kumar, Qui Alexander, and Kate Rush Cook. Bios for some of the speakers can be found here. All of the speakers were fantastic, and all had different perspectives on the issue. Some had been victims of sexual assault and some had not.

I found it interesting that many, if not all, of the speakers said that they rejected the idea of reclaiming the word ‘slut,’ but that they still supported the movement at large and felt it was important to participate. I think this really shows the strength of the concept — that even though not everyone agrees on the name of the movement or with a particular idea that some people bring to the movement, people nonetheless agree that people should be free to make clothing and sexual choices without fear of labels or assault. The fact that this movement has resonated around the world similarly speaks, I think, to the power of this movement. It suggests that women really are fed up and ready to take a stand.

My only criticism of the Slut Walk is that the organizers did not really make use of Twitter, except for a few tweets announcing it. Most social media communication was conducted on Facebook, which meant people like me who live on Twitter missed a lot of information prior to the event.

Photos:

All photographs copyright Jamie Boschan. Full gallery can be found here.

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