The scantily clad march for message


The Burlington community joined the movement of raising awareness of gender-based violence and victim blaming by taking part in a SlutWalk this past Saturday. The event was organized by Fed Up Vermont, a feminist group focusing on women’s freedom from violence.  


The first appearance of the SlutWalk took place in April of this year, after a Toronto police official stated that women would not be sexually victimized if they refrained from “dressing like sluts.”  


In response to this remark, the first SlutWalk was organized to increase awareness of sexual assault and focus on the victims of such acts. The popularity of this event has grown significantly. Nearly 20 SlutWalk events have been held across the globe since the first, according to the Fed Up Vermont website. 


Participants of the walk took action in Burlington to combat victim-blaming statements.


“Regardless of the way that a person is dressed, they were never asking to be raped,” participant Liz Roskey said. “No one ever asks for such an awful thing.”


Despite the rainy weather, there were many supporters marching the streets of Burlington. Participants dressed in corsets, lace, undergarments and other “slutty” attire.


Among advocates were a group of students who walked down from University of Vermont to join the walk.  


The walk began at the Democracy Statue to pay tribute to Laura Winterbottom, who was last seen there before she was raped and murdered in 2005. 


Participants chanted as they walked, yelling things like “Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go!” and “Shatter the silence, end the violence!”


Many participants carried signs that read things such as, “Stop Victim Blaming,” and “My Skirt, My Choice.”  


Peggy Luhrs, who was among the very first to start a group against rape violence in this town, is now a part of the Fed Up Vermont organization. Luhrs said she decided to take part in this event because she firmly believes in this message.


The event brought together many protesters who were not members of Fed Up Vermont.


“If we are going to change anything, we need to fight together,” participant Hayley Mason said.


The group started up this June and left an impression on the city with their Rally for Choice in July. City officials claimed that they were too rowdy. When it came time to apply for SlutWalk permits, event organizer Abigail Graves said they had trouble.


“They handed the application back and announced, ‘Not Fed Up, we have had trouble with this group,'” Graves said.  


The group was able to gain the right permits eventually, Graves said,


After the walk, participants gathered in Battery Park to listen to speakers and have a speak out, where participants shared their personal stories and feelings on gender-based violence.


The protest was not a female-exclusive event. Men dressed in underwear and crop tops participated as well.  


“It is important to have involvement with women and have their voices be strong, but also have a lot of men’s participation as well,” participant Jean-Denis Couillard said.