Slutwalk set to strut past Queen’s Park to police HQ on April 3

A group of women will be stomping and strutting at Queen’s Park Sunday, unified in a unique event: the Slutwalk.

The group’s wants to spread the message that victims of sexual assault are not at fault.

Controversial comments made by Toronto police Const. Michael Sanguinetti have inspired the march. Angry with his comment, the group of women want to express their frustrations.

At a safety seminar on Jan. 24 at York University, Sanguinetti told law students: “Women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like ‘sluts’.”

He wrote a letter of apology to the university, saying that he was ‘embarrassed’ by his comments.

Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis are both co-founders of the “Slutwalk.” Jeanette Janzen, Alyssa Teekah, and Erika Jane Scholz also joined forces with the group. The organizers gathered to prepare signs and spread the message at Slutwalk Prep Day Mar. 26.

“We’re selling shirts, buttons, and giving away flyers for people to distribute so they can spread the message that the walk is happening in a week,” Barnett said at Slutwalk Prep Day Mar. 26.

She’s happy and surprised with the response of people expected to attend the walk through their Facebook group.

“To have 1,700 people show up and say, ‘I’m with you’, is pretty amazing,” Barnett said.

The walk will head toward Toronto Police headquarters, Barnett said, because they want accountability from police services to discuss how they train and educate their officers.

She said the apology isn’t enough because the officer’s stereotypical idea still exists in society.

“The comment that was made by Officer Sanguinetti comes from a place where sexual profiling and victim blaming is inherent and a large trait and we’d like that changed,” Barnett said.

The group also wants to reclaim the definition of “slut” as someone who is in control of their own sexuality.

“We really want to push the idea that nobody is worthy of any kind of violence, whether you enjoy sex or not,” Barnett said.

Just because a woman enjoys sex, she said, doesn’t mean she’s inviting sexual assault.

Barnett said she’s not expecting participants to dress up in stereotypical attire such as stilettos, but to come as you are.

Mara Sternberg, 27, a volunteer at prep day, says the issue is important.

“Ordinary people often have misconceptions about rape,” Sternberg said. “I’m surprised at the attitude that still exists.”

She’s had friends who’ve made victim-blaming jokes, she said.

Organizers and protestors will be meeting at Queen’s Park on April 3 at 1:30 p.m. They’ll continue their protest at Toronto Police headquarters on 40 College St.

Toronto Police Services Spokesperson Wendy Drummond said they have communication with the group and are aware of the march.

She said the comment by the officer does not reflect the views of the police force.

“The comments made by the office are not representative of the service and it’s not what we have worked so hard in the past to achieve,” Drummond said.

20 comments:

  1. You are absolutely right Rainy. It seems a completely foreign concept to people that rape is primarily about violence and control. I have read similar studies about rapists looking for opportunity and vulnerability. There is a predatorial element in seeking out the most vulnerable, this is also one of the reasons a lot of rapists go after senior citizens.

    I think with enough education and anti-rape campaigning, society might edge away from its preoccupation with the victims behaviour and choice of clothing and transfer the scrutiny onto the rapist. Education must begin in school. Considering there are many future police officers in school, this should benefit them when dealing with the public. The police force seems to need more sensitivity training. Its sad, the scarborough police released Paul Bernardo over twenty years ago because they didn’t “believe” two women who said they were attacked by him. According to them, Bernardo appeared to me “to much of an upstanding citizen.” And sadly, he was the scarborough rapist at the time. Now over twenty years later and the police are still at it with slut shaming women.

    ie: Why,what motivated him? does he have a violent past? has he attacked before? what was his childhood like? did he ever show signs of sexual deviant behavour? who are his role models? who are his influences? what are the factors that brought him to this cowardly act?

  2. Wow, it seems a lot of the people commenting on this thread are having trouble distinguishing “attention” from being attacked. If a woman or man for that matter dresses a certain way, sure they will draw attention to themselves, so what! Suggesting that dressing “sluty” invites sexually charged males who can’t control their urges, is a plain out insult to men. We do not need kid gloves when being around half naked women. If you go back and look at the stats you will notice that rapists target women wearing everything from track suits to turtle necks. What does it take for people to stop buying into the myth that rape is a sexually motivated crime. According to statistics rapists look for two things opportunity and vulnerability. Ironically women who dress revealingly are seen as being confident and usually act as a warning signal to rapists that these individuals are not vulnerable enough.

    The police officer was completely out of line with this archaic comment. He is reinforcing two myths. 1) women who dress revealingly invite sexual assault 2) that men just can’t help themselves How dare he be anywhere near a school with this mentality. The police are obviously lacking in education and sensitivity training. The fact that he was preaching to a room full of women on how “not to get raped” also reveals a huge gap in societies education on rape. He should equally have been teaching men NOT to rape. And how to recognize and denounce the beliefs held by other men that glorify this violent and cowardly act as one that is sexually charged.

    When it comes down to it society has a long way to go with this. And this very backward thinking officer is proof of this.

  3. To be honest I feel like I have to say my opinion regrding this matter and im sure it will upset people BUT…. the police man said ” Women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like sluts” now, I am a 23 years old woman and I will admit that the way the police man said it was not exactly the most appropriate thing to say and not the best way to explain but basically I believe woman should be able to wear what they want, but using their heads and not go out sober or drunk alone at 2 am wearing barelly any clothes on! You kind of are asking to attract people and to be honest, we all know not everyone out there are nice! So basically, use ur street smarts! You cannot expect to go out half naked and no one to look or want to touch you, you are wanting the attention, maybe not from those rapists obviously but its your responsibility to keep yourself safe also! Im not saying sexual assault is womens fault but some out there don’t help themselves!

  4. @Melissa

    I’m pretty sure these are grown women, not “young girls.” Check out the pictures. These are women, not 15 year olds who don’t know there are “bad people” in the world. But why give the “bad people” the excuse of “well I was tempted and she was asking for it!”

    Every single time I’ve been harassed, I’ve been wearing regular old jeans. Sorry my body is so tempting, but I’m not asking to be yelled, whooped, and whistled at, much less touched or grabbed. It doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing. Rape is rape. No one asks for it.

  5. – People judge, they judge any and everything you do.

    The term “slut” will never be reclaimed by woman, the men they have sex with will vanish when they’re ready to form a relationship.
    Men will applaud a woman’s slutty ways long enough to get them in bed, cause they know being judgmental won’t get them sex.

    – Getting intoxicated and not knowing your surroundings are just two situations that woman put themselves in that can lead to being harmed.

  6. @ Laura. Are you serious what would do you live in. I should be able to set my purse down and go back an hour later and ffind it still there. The reality is it may or may not be stolen. In certain circumstances you can leave a purse un attended in others it would be gone within a minute. To make blanket statements that we should be able to dress and do as we wish without reprecussion or fear is not only naive it is actually dangerous. Women like you set the womans movement back years, because all you tell people is that you really do not get it.

    You speak for yourself.

  7. As I woman I fear that these young girls are so misguided in life. We can not be afraid to talk to our daughters and young women in society without this gender vitrol. I tell my 13 year old son not to flash around his ipod and iphone when he is out, not beccause I think he would deserve to be assaulted if he did, but I tell him to do it to take precautions, I tell my children not to tell people what we have in our home, again it is a precaution. We close our curtains when we go away from the home, again it is a precaution. I just listened to your interview and you brought up the issue of parents telling their children they cant leave the house dressed as they are. By your guests interpretation what you are actually saying to your child is they are deserving to get attacked if they do. That is the flaw in this young girls logic.
    She and others like her need to understand there are bad people out there and responsible people need to take precautions. This does not mean my son cant use his ipod in public or a young woman can not dress sexually. What it means is there is a time and place for it and when you do, make sure you are aware of your surroundings and take the care necessary to ensure your safety.
    It is a shame we can not have adult conversations without people blowing things up to suit their own agendas. When we stop talking about issues is when we have problems. I in no way support this “s#^+” walk. And just by virtue of the name I think we know what point this young lady is trying to make.

  8. @Ben… my better judgment tells me you are being sarcastic- otherwise, are you actually comparing women to a comic book depiction of a bank robber? If so, i think you sort of missed the point.

    Try this one: if a businessman was walking home from work and someone ran by and stole his wallet, would the police ask (and by ask i really mean accuse) him why he was wearing a suit in the first place? Surely the man should have known better than to dress in Harry Rosen…

  9. @The Real World youre right, dressing a certain way does attract a certain kind of attention. acting like a drunk idiot makes you easy prey. but you know what it doesn’t do?
    demand that someone rape you.

    just because you’re an easy target, does not justify being sexually assaulted. it does not mean that you deserve it. instead of rape, it would be just as easy to pick the poor drunk girl off the floor, straighten her out and get her home safe, rather than take from her the most precious and intimate thing she has to offer, ripping her emotional and physical well being to shreds.

    being a sexual creature, does not make you consenting. being a provocative dresser does not make you consenting. being too drunk to stand does not make you consenting. so unless she says “yes please” its rape, no matter what she’s wearing.

  10. The reality in todays society is that there are people who are drug addicts, robbers, sexual deviants and just bad people. Whether its because these people had violent childhoods, suffer from mental illness or have just decided to make wrong choices Women who are gropped, raped and targeted for sexual satisfactions to these men who walk among us whithin our community have not asked for it nor deserve it. BUT, women who wear short skirts, tight low tops gain this attention. They stand out from the rest which may make them a victim. Also as a york university student myself I have seen girls at parties getting so drunk where they are passing out exposing themselves as they are wearing barely nothing. And unless they have friends there who are helping them they are putting themselves in a situation where they are an easy victim. Again,I am not saying that women deserve to be violated but if you put yourself in that situation really what did you expect. WHat officer sanguinetti said was worded poorly but as a police officer he has probably seen a lot more that what I have seen and I agree with his view. People who are taking his statment and making such a big deal about it for example the slutwalk should come out of their fantasy world and realize the the reality of todays society. Thank you

  11. @ohreally, I think the point is it does not matter if a girl is a “slut” No means No! I love sex, but do I want some random stranger to force me into it? Hell no!

    as for what i wear I recently lost 70lbs and started walking around with my shirt off because I feel happy and proud that i did that, am I a douche bag because of that? Do I want to old men staring at me (still aiming for the ladies (another 15lbs I hope) not really, but as long as they do not touch me I am cool, look all you want.

    @Ben Completely different situations and issues. in your case they would ask you to remove the mask and or leave, in these girls cases THEY ARE BEING PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED or RAPED!!!!!!!!!!! This is not being inconvenienced this is RAPE!! Way different ballpark.

  12. NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ASSAULTED BUT if I walk into a bank with a ski mask on and get assaulted, am I not at least PARTIALLY responsible for what happened? I am being judged for what I am wearing yet that is ok? Double standard?

  13. did the officer really say she was asking for it?

    i believe police officers also suggest people should lock their cars, and hide valuables before they leave it unattended in a carpark.

    Why would women want to “take back a term” anyway? shouldnt they call the walk “women with dignity have a right to safety”
    “women have a right to safety”
    “walk against rape”
    “women want and deserve respect”

    why rescue the term slut? apart from getting the obvious reaction “zomg its so not PC, its like totally counterculture”

  14. This is really a great initiative. Hopefully it will speak to the mentality that rape survivors invited the attack due to their clothing choice of the day. Our society is in absolute need of education surrounding this issue.

    The onus should not fall soley on women and girls to prevent rape. Men and boys can prevent rape. I was saddened to see immature comments made by men on the slutwalk facebook page. For example,”lol” this is hilarious.” Rape is not a laughing matter. Men have the power to influence other men and help foster a social environment that stigmatizes rape They need to be taught how to denounce behaviours and belief’s that are toxic to women. Whether it be in the locker room, on the playing field or at the bar, men can influence beliefs held by other men until rape is revealed for what it is: violent and cowardly. Because rape is not a laughing matter.

  15. I think this is a great idea. The stereotype that a rape victim was “asking for it” because she was dressed or acting suggestively is just plain wrong.

    The only aspect of this article I disagree with is the concept of “reclaiming the definition of “slut” as someone who is in control of their own sexuality”. I think it should mean more than that.

    I think the word slut should apply to men as well as women and should not necessarily be viewed as a negative. (Although, if your boyfriend cheats on you with ten different women in a two week period, I would say that guy is a slut in the traditional, negative meaning of the word.

    But what about those who push sexual boundaries (e.g., swingers, exhibitionists, etc.) and use the term facetiously? To these people, the words slut or slutty are not pejorative and I believe they have earned the distinction of using these terms, more so than someone who is merely “in control of their own sexuality”.

    But this is a minor quibble and I still plan to participate in the Slutwalk.

  16. I have passed the message to all that I know……. men and women…
    That I will be in the march if I am in town….
    We have to break this stereotype .. in all ways, in all walks of life…..
    RAPE is about the power… of the cowardly….
    KikiBacik

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