More than 140 people marched through Johnson City last month as part of a “SlutWalk” to call attention to misconceptions about rape.
As Press staff writer Madison Mathews reported July 24, participants carried signs and shouted chants such as, “A dress, a dress, a dress is not a yes” and “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Victim blame has got to go,” as they made their way downtown from East Tennessee State University.
The first SlutWalk was held in April in Toronto to protest the comments of a police official there who suggested some rapes occur because the rapist thought the victim dressed like a “slut,” or provocatively. Similar SlutWalks have spread across the United States, as well as parts of Europe and India.
Organizers say the events are helpful in educating members of the public who incorrectly believe victims are somehow to blame for rape. Giving victims of sex crimes a chance to feel like it wasn’t their fault was a reason ETSU students Kristina Bogue and Valerie Treece say they decided to organize a SlutWalk in Johnson City.
“It’s just about being able to wear whatever you want to wear and not being blamed for that, like you’re not asking for it if you were to get raped,” Treece said.
Bogue said she got the idea of holding a local SlutWalk after seeing a picture of a girl holding a sign that read, “Teach men not to rape. Don’t tell us what to wear.”
While SlutWalks have gained praise from many for calling attention to the problem of rape, others say they are not an appropriate way to show why victims shouldn’t be blamed for their attacks.
As Rebecca Taister recently wrote in the New York Times Magazine: “To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial) to what society already expects of its young women.”
Taister also wrote: “So while the mission of SlutWalks is crucial, the package is confusing and leaves young feminists open to the very kinds of attacks they are battling.”
Are SlutWalks effective in raising public awareness about rape?
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