An unconventional protest

For as long societal discontent has existed, there has also existed the powerful art of protest. The way in which such opposition is voiced has taken a variety of forms through the ages, from boycotts to sit-ins to formal petitions. The women of Toronto, however, have recently devised their own unique, albeit controversial, method of protest – the so-called “Slut Walk.” The Slut Walk consisted of participants intentionally dressed as “slutty” as possible and demanding a proper apology. This event was in response to comment made by Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinni. In a personal security class at York University in January, Sanguinni said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” In response to this incredibly offensive claim, hoards of enraged and explicitly scantily-clad took to the streets last week. Their fury was aimed at both the blatant victim-shaming and the use of the term “slut” itself.” People everywhere, and not just the women of Toronto, should be infuriated by Sanguinni’s comment, which is far more inappropriate than anyone’s manner of dress. First of all, his callous and spiteful use of the word “slut” is derogatory and abusive to women. Far worse is the aggressively insensitive way in which he demonized the victims of sexual violence by turning the blame on them instead of laying it on the actual perpetrators of sexual crimes. The logic that it is the woman’s fault for being seductive is incredibly backwards and skewed, and should not be upheld by people in authority positions such as Sanguinni. Unfortunately, this mentality of blaming the victim is not isolated just to Toronto. Last week, The New York Times published an article about an 11 year old girl from Texas who had been kidnapped and gang raped. In the article, neighbors of the girl said she had provoked the attack by wearing clothes that were too old for her and by being too flirtatious. The fact that there are people in today’s society who would actually say such things is deeply disturbing. It seems as though more people could benefit from a Slut Walk or similarly aimed protest. At first observance, the bold encouragement of revealing clothes seems like a hypocritical way to protest the ridicule of sluttiness. It actually makes perfect sense, though, and is entirely in accordance with the goals of the Toronto women responsible for the Slut Walk. There is hardly a clearer way to reclaim the right to one’s sexuality without inciting blame; a right which has been effectively stripped by the Toronto Police, than to barrage the offenders with it outright. Plus, the very act of protesting is intrinsically the most forceful demand of respect there is.