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.
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.