SlutWalk to Take Place at UW

by uwchevron

Author: Erin Perri

This April marks the first annual University of Waterloo SlutWalk. The initiative has been organized by the Women’s Centre, a Federation of Students’ service located in the Student Life Centre (SLC). For many years, the Women’s Centre has worked on initiatives that promote acceptance, inclusivity, and respecting others on campus.

The SlutWalk movement officially began a few years ago. On January 24th, 2011, a member of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) travelled to York University to give a presentation on sexual assault and violence, something that had been all too familiar to the York campus at the time.

The representatives went over the same details that women are given time and time again, but what started the outrage was stating that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.”

Heather Jarvis, a queer feminist activist and survivor of sexual assault, got wind of this. In the summer of 2011, Jarvis began planning the first ever Slutwalk. Her main goal was to debunk the myths and stereotypes around the identification of “the slut.” The bigger picture Jarvis was looking to shed light on is the all too-common victim blaming and shaming epidemic entrenched in so many cases of sexual violence. This speaks to all who have been shamed for dressing a certain way, drinking too much, walking alone, having many sexual partners, and being deemed “asking for it.” Put simply: no one is ever asking to be raped. In situations where this does happen, women should feel comfortable going to the police and gaining support, resources, and justice.

The SlutWalk is here to call foul on the accusations made by the TPS and the many people who still believe that victims hold some responsibility for their assault. The SlutWalk phenomenon spread like wildfire, and SlutWalk marches are now happening internationally.

Our walk holds the same values of the Toronto SlutWalk with an emphasis on the vulnerability of victims in university cities such as Waterloo. The Women’s Centre is proud to be part of a campus that supports its students and works to maintain its safe environment. We are asking people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, and so forth to come out and support this cause. There are no requirements for what people need to look like, dress like, or identify with to take part in this walk. It is instead a united front to show that we are against victim-blaming. We hope to see you all out in support of this important cause.

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