On 24th January 2011, a Toronto cop gave shocking insight into the force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”. So began a world movement to reassess perceptions of female sexuality, sexual consent and erase the view that rape can be ‘deserved’.
Last weekend the protest spread to London, with a march from Piccadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square, co-organised by 17-year-old sixth former, Anastasia Richardson. Many of the marchers wore ‘slutty’ clothes to reinforce the idea that short skirts does not imply consent. We sent Siobhan along to see who was there, what they had to say and what they were wearing.
Amy, Megan & Vicky, of Royal Holloway's FemSoc
Whatever the press may have said, whatever cynics may have thought, the SlutWalk London made it out with more than merely women in their underwear. The protest ostensibly against the misguided Canadian policeman, got a greater turnout than many expected, and came across as more than just a response to one man.
Ella, enjoying the bra weather
Obviously, with a name like Slutwalk, there was an overarching theme in both fashion and the expectations of the general public. Those trying to reclaim the word slut, as many activists have done with various infamous words in the past, were out and proud as slutty dressers. However, it might be hard to say who was really out there claiming back the word, and who was just out there to fit the theme. As some, male and female, showed, in part the slutwalk was about dressing up and having fun while maybe trying to make a point about respect. Rosie and Andrew, both students and a couple, turned out in fancy slut attire, and were clearly out to make an impression.
Andrew and Rosie
A little lost from the crowd, we asked whether they were looking for the slutwalk start point too. Although almost denying it, their sartorial efforts were self evidently slutwalk appropriate.
Cookie and Dogzilla
Others came out to walk as part of their wider concerns with society and its views on outsiders. Experiencing problems as part of the squatting movement, including the theft/almost theft of their dog, another couple went for a more casual look, adding a touch of the vamp with some fishnet tights, but sticking to the always flattering palette of black.
Nude buttocks on a Boris bike? Let's hope they wiped it down
With speeches from the organisers, prostitutes, journalists, transgender victims of harassment, and artists, the whole event offered a range of opinions on clothing, rape, power and the law, and also featured an almost planned subsidiary movement in the naked bike ride that passed by.
With both women and men out in bras, on bikes, and in burqas, the issue of simple respect was high on the agenda, while the issue of clothing, or lack of it, was practically superfluous. Of course, wearing little to prove a point was popular, wearing what you want showed itself to be the overarching and predominant message - less “If you’ve got it flaunt it”, more, “If you want to flaunt it, go ahead”.
To find out more about the SlutWalk philosophy, and to look up SlutWalks in your area, visit www.slutwalktoronto.com