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'SlutWalk' in Yellowknife
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, April 6, 2011
It was the comment by a Toronto police officer to a group of university students in January that sparked anger across the country. The remark, and apology one month later, has started a flurry of SlutWalks from coast to coast.
This Saturday, Yellowknife's downtown will be the scene for SlutWalk Yk. The defiant name and event are meant to express the idea that blaming the victim for any sexual assault based on what they wear is unacceptable. Yellowknife organizer Bree Denning said she thinks it's important to get people talking about how society uses the word "slut."
"It's used to really vilify women and girls and, in these cases, says they don't deserve protection from the police or the judiciary and it's important to point out that is absolutely not true," said Denning.
Denning said she and some friends saw information about the Toronto SlutWalk, which took place on Sunday, April 3 with more than 1,000 people participating, and thought it was something to bring to Yellowknife.
"The fact that victim was never at fault was a really important message to start pushing in this community," she said.
"Even if we get a small core population out there and talk about what they believe in and what they want to see happen in the community in terms of less victim-blaming and more support for victims of sexual assault, then that's great."
Denning said the event is for all ages and all genders wanting to send the same message: that victims of sexual assault are never the ones at fault and everyone is impacted by victim-blaming and slut-shaming.
"This is your chance to be walking out in solidarity saying, 'This is me expressing myself and it's not putting me at risk and it's not saying anything about me other than this is what I want to look like.'"
Co-organizer Vanessa Baron said blaming a female victim because of the clothing she wears or the impression she gives off is also belittling to men because it insinuates that men are "slaves to their uncontrollable sexual desires."
"SlutWalk YK is not in any way about promoting promiscuity, but rather about promoting respect for all people from all walks of life, and awareness about how victim-blaming is perpetuated. Nobody ever asks to be sexually assaulted," she said.
"People are encouraged to wear whatever they like, be it stilettos, combat boots, or running shoes."
Yellowknife musician Tina Roy will be taking part in the walk and performing at the Champagne Room after the walk for a SlutWalk rally that will include speeches, letter-writing, and a photo booth to create personalized awareness posters about the SlutWalk and victim-blaming.
Roy said she was appalled to hear that a police officer had related how a woman may dress could lead to sexual assault or being called a slut.
"To me there's no correlation between the two and there shouldn't be a correlation between the two," she said. I'm actually really glad that someone who is so out in the public finally said something that people have been thinking. 'If you dress like that, you were just asking for it' ... This is the way people think and now we can address it because it's been so explicitly advertised."
The event will start and end at the Champagne Room from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
SlutWalks have taken place in Sackville, NB and Toronto and will be taking place in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa, London, Ont., Calgary, Boston, Dallas and Adelaide, Australia as of Tuesday according to the SlutWalk Toronto website.