Jake Weinraub

Slutwalk Kicks Off in Chicago Today

Filed By Jake Weinraub | June 04, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Chicago, rape, slut, slutwalk, toronto, victim blaming

Hundreds are gathering at Thompson Center Plaza in Chicago today for Slutwalk - a march "in support of education and against intolerance" around rape culture. The march is inspired by SlutWalk Toronto, where on January 24, 2011 a representative of the Toronto Police Service was quoted saying, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized":

From the the site:

SlutWalk Chicago aims to combat the myth of "the slut" and the culture of victim blaming that prevails the world over.

Our mission is to enforce the truth that those who experience sexual assault are never at fault-- no exceptions. We seek to combat a culture that teaches "don't get raped," as opposed to "don't rape."

Slutwalk Chicago organizers have kept a blog for posting updates and conversations around the event, including responses to some of the event's criticisms. A major criticism is of the event's title and questions of who can and cannot feel comfortable reclaiming the term 'slut' for the duration of the march. Organizer Jessica Skolnik thoughtfully responded on the Slutwalk Chicago blog that the name will remain but its interrogation is useful. She writes:

Reclamation is rooted in certain experiences and certain privileges (being comfortable enough to apply that word to yourself without fear of reprisal or violence, for instance). Instead, I see the contentious name of our event - SlutWalk - as a name that both joins us to work being done by other organizers (including the original Toronto organizers) and gets at the heart of how sexual double standards and rape culture are connected (for instance, how perceived sexual availability is used to invalidate allegations of sexual assault).

While some response has been unfavorable, ("SlutWalk is a pitiful, hands-and-knees crawl for respect-crumbs of the patriarchy. Good luck with that"), the intentional organizing for Slutwalk Chicago will no doubt leave an immeasurably powerful impression on the city.

The walk starts from Thompson Center Plaza, moving east along Randolph Street, south on Michigan Avenue (along Grant Park), west on Jackson Boulevard, and north along Clark Street to the final meeting place at Daley Plaza for speakers and entertainment.  

Project contributor Yasmin Nair will be speaking at Daley Plaza on behalf of Gender Just around 2PM.

img src Rick Carroll

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Very mixed feelings about this; I've supported multiple "take back the night" events, but the Slutwalk, even the name, leaves me a bit uneasy with the inherent sexualisation

Hey, Maura,

Completely understandable - lots of people feel that way about the name. I'll be posting my speech up on my website and on Gender JUST sometime today - it provides some explanation of why we reclaim the word, but also complicates the reclamation.

Om Kalthoum | June 6, 2011 11:33 AM

Having never been a slut, nor aspired to be, I have no desire to "reclaim" the word. YMMV.