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Slut Walk

Posted by Tom Megginson | 5-03-2011 23:35 | Category: Gender issues

“On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police 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 begins the manifesto of Slut Walk, a grassroots movement of sex-positive Toronto feminists who will be demonstrating by walking from Queen’s Park (the Ontario Legislature) to Toronto Police Headquarters on the afternoon of Sunday, April 3. They plan to dress to kill, and re-appropriate their public displays of their sexual selves as something righteous and worthy of respect.

We’ll follow up after the event. Read the whole manifesto after the break.



On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police 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”.

As the city’s major protective service, the Toronto Police have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of ‘the slut’, and in doing so have failed us. With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim.

Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

We are a movement demanding that our voices be heard. We are here to call foul on our Police Force and demand change. We want Toronto Police Services to take serious steps to regain our trust. We want to feel that we will be respected and protected should we ever need them, but more importantly be certain that those charged with our safety have a true understanding of what it is to be a survivor of sexual assault — slut or otherwise.

We are tired of speeches filled with lip service and the apologies that accompany them. What we want is meaningful dialogue and we are doing something about it: WE ARE COMING TOGETHER. Not only as women, but as people from all gender expressions and orientations, all walks of life, levels of employment and education, all races, ages, abilities, and backgrounds, from all points of this city and elsewhere.

We are asking you to join us for SlutWalk, to make a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. Whether a fellow slut or simply an ally, you don’t have to wear your sexual proclivities on your sleeve, we just ask that you come. Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us.

Join us in our mission to spread the word that those those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.

Slut Walk Toronto


Comments about Slut Walk

I really think the ‘don’t dress like a slut’ is blown way out of proportion, it is more a word of caution to avoid drawing attention to yourself, not about “blaming the victim”  Much like if you do not want to be mugged don’t flash wads of cash in public - it is basic common sense.  I am glad I will not be in Toronto to experience the delays associated with this

Posted by slater | 31-03-2011 14:50

Comments about Slut Walk

When it comes to getting attacked by a stranger rape is a crime of aggression not attraction. Rapists look for vulnerability not sex appeal.


Posted by 888 | 1-04-2011 01:08

Comments about Slut Walk

We are talking about Rape and sexual Assault here, what one is wearing has nothing to do with it.  Rape is a violent act, an act of terrorism.  An act as terrorizing as having a gun held to your head.  The comments made by the police officer shows how uneducated some people are about Rape and sexual assault, shows that the Education of police officers in gerneral is not adequate to do their job. I think it is tme to include sexual assault and rape in sex education in schools.  Police training and education must be upgraded to fit the fact that we live in Canada supposedly one of the most educated countries in the world.  A place where we rally againt racism, where we rally for inclution of all peoples. Rally then against Rape!

Posted by Ann | 4-04-2011 04:12

Comments about Slut Walk

I think feminist movement is making hay of this.  The Toronto Police work long and hard to apprehend criminals, including those that commit sexual assaults.  To try and suggest that the police support such behaviour is foolish.  Secondly, the comments made by the officer, although less than tactful, seemed to be more in the vein of “be aware of your surrondings” rather than aimed and blaming victims.  Not much different than saying “don’t leave an expensive notebook computer visible in your car when parked.”  If your window gets smashed and your computer gets stolden, I don’t think the police are blaming you, and I don’t think the are uninterested in finding the person that committed the crime.  They are just providing you common sense advice re: safety.  How you dress, men and women, should be a function of the environment they are in.  If a man or woman walks down the street in an outfit that screams for attention, they will get it, some good and some bad.

Posted by rick | 4-04-2011 20:24

Comments about Slut Walk

As a sexual assault survivor, I believe that this police officer’s comment has been blown way out of proportion. I will not be attending the Slut Walk in my city on Sunday.

Posted by AG | 5-04-2011 17:32

Comments about Slut Walk

“the comments made by the officer, although less than tactful, seemed to be more in the vein of “be aware of your surrondings” rather than aimed and blaming victims.”

If the officer had said “Women should avoid dressing well or looking good” then I might agree with you.  I suspect that the officer used “slut” not to mean “someone comfortable with sexuality” but “someone doing something bad”, so I’d argue that the officer essentially said “In order not to have something bad happen to you, you should not act like a bad person.”

If you can persuade me that the officer used “slut” in a strictly amoral sense, then I’ll buy that there was no victim-blaming.

Posted by ben | 17-04-2011 22:51

Comments about Slut Walk

“WE ARE COMING TOGETHER. Not only as women, but as people from all gender expressions and orientations, all walks of life, levels of employment and education, all races, ages, abilities, and backgrounds, from all points of this city and elsewhere. We are asking you to join us for SlutWalk, to make a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. Whether a fellow slut or simply an ally, you don’t have to wear your sexual proclivities on your sleeve, we just ask that you come”.

I’m a child sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape survivor and a former prostitute. The word ‘slut’ and other words that have traditionally been used to insult and degrade women were used consistenly throughout my sexual abuse as expressions of hatred and violence towards me as a female. I don’t believe that it’s possible to ‘reclaim’ a word that is still used largely to insult and degrade women. I can’t participate in a protest that asks me to capitulate to or buy into male definitions of who I am as a woman when those definitions have been used against me and other women in real acts of violence. I’m not a slut. I don’t believe that such a thing exists except in the minds of mysoginists. And I think that buying into male defined concepts like this is ultimately self defeating.

I defnitely agree that women should not be blamed for the violence of men regardless of what they wear, but I don’t have to sell myself and other women out by labelling myself (and by extention other women) a ‘slut’ to do it. If this movement truly wishes to be inclusive of people from all walks of life then I think it should consider the way that it’s actively excluding women who don’t buy into ‘reclaiming’ violent, abusive language and definitions or who are triggered by such language. Surely there’s another way to make this important protest without reducing ourselves to that?

Posted by Adele | 21-04-2011 14:19

Comments about Slut Walk

It would be men who try to minimize the issue and miss the point. The fact is that we as people, individuals, have the right to dress and act as we see fit without worrying about any sort of assault, sexual or otherwise (or at least we should). To put it into perspective, if a man is dressed in a nice suit and takes a walk in a busy city, even in the inner city, he should not have to worry about be robbed and beaten. Telling him not dress like that to avoid being robbed sounds ridiculous and would most likely cause a few eyebrow raises. ‘If you do not want to get robbed, don’t dress well’.
Basically, the point is that religious influence throughout the years have made it so that women should be oppressed, so that in one way or another it is our fault that we are sexually assaulted.
It is not my fault that I was nearly raped or that I was molested, regardless of my dress. It was the fault of the bastards who committed the crime.

Posted by Tricia | 24-04-2011 16:42

Comments about Slut Walk

ANYONE, male or female, should have the freedom to walk around dressed in ANY DAMN WAY THEY PLEASE, without fear of sexual attack.  The Toronto Police officer showed his real ignorance of sexual violence.  Rapists don’t really care how you dress, they’ve attacked nuns!  Rape is at root a crime of VIOLENCE, not sex.

Posted by Carlos | 6-05-2011 15:44

Comments about Slut Walk

SLUT walk. isn’t that just hookers walking the streets. i got $20 bucks so blow me ho

Posted by Jeremy | 6-05-2011 21:25

Comments about Slut Walk

Give the officer a break.. he is only doing what others on the post are doing- exercising his right to free speech… and sadly, he probably is right…
How you dress says a lot about your character, so if you dress like a filthy slut chances are your going to be perceived as one.. is it the police officers fault that some women have such low self esteem that they feel the need to dress like sluts to overcompensate for the lack of attention they got as a child??
People need to grow the fuck up stop blaming everything on everyone else!

Posted by shawn | 6-05-2011 22:01

Comments about Slut Walk


If the officer were speaking as a private citizen, then he could exercise his right to free speech.  But he was speaking in his capacity as an officer of the law, and thus was speaking for law enforcement.  Saying “The guys with the guns, who put you in prison if we choose to, deem that this was your fault” is different from saying “I personally think that you’re a filthy slut.”

Yes, of course how you dress affects how people see you.  But should it affect whether people think that raping you is okay?  Can you tell the difference between clothing that says “filthy slut” (whatever the hell that means) and “healthy attitude towards sexuality and flirtation”?  Or is it okay to rape either person?

“People need to grow the fuck up stop blaming everything on everyone else! “

Leaving aside the matter of you obviously blaming women for dressing as they choose…

Obviously you should not blame someone else for your own actions.  But you seem to be under the misapprehension that when you’re raped it is due to your own action.  I sincerely hope that it will not take you being raped in order for you to understand this, but if that’s what it takes, I hope we can arrange that facet of your education ASAP.  And not by an individual acting independently, but by an Officer of the Law acting in his official government capacity to rape you because of something he thought indicated that you were Asking For It.  Because, you see, wearing jeans is a universal symbol for being a boy-bottom who likes it rough.  I trust you will correctly blame yourself, right?

Posted by ben | 6-05-2011 23:30

Comments about Slut Walk

I have seen way to many naive comments from people telling us whats in a rapists head, my first question to any of you is. are you a rapist?
If the answer to that question is no, which it most likely is. Then what the hell makes you think you actually know whats going on in a rapists head?
It is foolish to believe that your attire and attitude do not contribute to risk factors.
It is fair to say that about 85% of women are sexually assaulted at some time in their life. People are too busy trying to place blame. and are ignoring the actual problem.
Someone said that men in general are more attracted to women because of what they are wearing, so what makes you think the same doesnt go for a male rapist?
and why is it always men? do you honestly believe a woman has never been convicted of rape?
This “slut walk” is an embarassment, to everyone. Slut is a degrading word, it should not be used to encourage anything. especially provocative dressing.
The simple fact is, the cop was right, bad choice of words, but he was absolutely right.
Their called risk factors, the cop was simply explaining one, and who cares if people like it?
Guess what, if you dont lock your door, there is a better chance of your house getting robbed. So, if this cop was to say, “you would have less of chance of being robbed if you were smart enough to lock your door”, would he face the same scrutiny?
Lets think smart here, I personally have testified in a rape case, 2 actually. One of the girls in question was raped by her stepfather. He was attracted to her because she regularly dressed provocative, and as a young well-developed woman, he looked at her the wrong way. and he did something that was wrong. The cop says, had she worn less provocative clothing that her stepfather may not have done what he did, is he right? absolutely.
I think every man has looked at a woman and thought, “I’d love to hit that”, “oh i bet she looks great naked” etc… and of course also pictured the woman naked. and many woman reading this can say “ew, i know how that feels, I hate when men look at me like that” pull your f’in skirt down then. stop wearing skirts that all but show your privates.
Am i saying a woman shouldnt be allowed to dress all skimpy and not get raped? of course not. but is she increasing the risk of being noticed by some drunk guy that probably normally wouldnt be so aggressive but this time is different. Hell yes. Like we already said, a man is more attracted to a woman thats dressing to show off her parts, then one who is not, what the hell makes you think that a rapist is any different?
This cop hit the nail on the head, and the truth hurts, suck it up, or dont listen.
And get rid of these slut walks before my daughter thinks its ok to be called a slut, and starts calling herself a slut. Like having multiple sexual partners is a good thing. what kind of society are we turning into?
Someone commented about a nun being raped, so, because a rapist has raped a nun before then that means that there is absolutely no relevance in what is being worn in any rape? How can you blanket something like that?
Even if only 5% of rapists pick their victims because of how they were dressed, which im sure its more like 50 - 80%, but anyways, even if it was just 5%, does that make the cop wrong for saying that its a risk factor?
If 5% of houses in your neighborhood got robbed and you normally didnt lock your door, would you start? people forget how much 5% really is.
The truth hurts, the slut walk is an abomination.

Posted by Perry | 6-05-2011 23:51

Comments about Slut Walk


I’m so glad that these slutwalks are happening, and I’m delighted that you posted this.  It lets us get some misconceptions out into the open where they can be discussed rationally.

Risk factors—quite right.  If you wear hot clothes, you’re more likely to get raped (is this actually true?  I don’t have numbers and you pulled yours out of your ass, but I am inclined to believe you’re right).  Similarly, if you eat lots of processed agribusiness foods, you’re more likely to become obese, get type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.  If you leave your house, you’re more likely to be killed by a car.  But there are better ways to minimise risk factors than just avoiding the risky behaviours—and the idea here is that maybe we can make society a better place.  Rather than each person being forced to change dress or diet or social life in order to avoid having to confront a broken society, how about we try to make it safe for people to wear what they will, to make food available that isn’t filled with carcinogens and obesogens, to provide fast safe cheap transportation options far from cars?  Back on topic, one of the best ways of making sexy clothing less likely to get you raped is to make the clothing choice more socially acceptable, and to show people that there’s nothing wrong with it.

And the other thing:

What’s wrong with having multiple sexual partners?  Humans were designed to enjoy sex with multiple partners (proof: most of us do; those who don’t sacrifice much in order to live such sexually isolated lives).  The “slut walk” is about pointing out to people like you that “slut” currently means (a) loving sex and (b) filthy.  (a) is good, but why (b)?  Rather than making up a new word to express “women who enjoy lots of sex with multiple partners… in a good way” (which would doubtless be perverted by prudes and puritans) the point is to ask “why is “slut” something to be ashamed of?”

Simpler question: could you (or someone) please suggest an alternative word that means “a woman who enjoys lots of sex with multiple partners” but has positive (or at least no negative) connotations?  The equivalent of “stud”, for women?

Posted by ben | 7-05-2011 00:32

Comments about Slut Walk

Perry - you blamed a child for being raped by her step-father because of what she wore? You have lost all moral high ground to speak on this topic. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.

Posted by Nat Bro | 7-05-2011 02:58

Comments about Slut Walk

This is stupid.  The officer wasn’t trying to put the blame on anybody.  He is trying to give ADVICE on how to PREVENT being a victim of sexual assault.

Poor choice of words?  Yes.  But does dressing provocatively attract unwarranted attention?  Is there some sick scumbag who may feel the need to sexually assault a woman based on how they’re dressed and if that person is attractive?  Hey, it could, can, and HAS happened.

This SlutWalk thing is such an immature response to what was basically an officer trying to give advice on how not to be a victim albeit using a single bad word, and I’m sure these Slutwalk organizers wouldn’t bother posting the rest of the officer’s presentation, which I’m sure was not “How to put the blame on the victim!”

Grow the hell up.

Posted by Burnhardsson | 7-05-2011 07:05

Comments about Slut Walk


No, NEVER grow the hell up.  Why are old people so seldom responsible for social progress?  “Grow the hell up” generally—and specifically to you, apparently—means that we should accept the way things are, stick our heads in the sand, and not try to do anything about it.

Ask a Muslim man what a woman should wear, and how she should behave.  When a woman shows her ankles or neck and is beaten or stoned to death, point out that she was dressed immodestly and could have avoided a painful death if she hadn’t behaved like such a filthy slut.  Sound good?

Posted by ben | 7-05-2011 20:42

Comments about Slut Walk

There is enough blame to go to both genders: for the women and girls who don’t have enough sense to dress properly and the men and boys who take advantage of them.  Shame on you for participating in demeaning women into nothing more than an object of sex.  Your warped sense of reality is NOT mainstream and it never will be, so crawl back in the slimy holes you came out of.

Posted by Cece | 8-05-2011 00:52

Comments about Slut Walk

I hate groups like this with a passion. I’m sorry but I started boiling in anger when I saw MSNBC giving these girls coverage.. over something stupid. One thing I do applaud them for even though they shouldn’t be applauded is that they’re protesting. The thing is.. we have to get people who are silent about issues, who have really good ideas and WANT TO FIX SOCIETY, parade.. and protest.. Instead of these girls protesting about stupid stuff. No offense.. but… we should be teaching our girls in our country to dress modestly and not wear slut like a label to be proud of… I feel really sorry for the guys in our country nowadays.. If guys see these girls parading in lingerie.. and slut attire, they will be tempted to think lustful thoughts and these girls are making themselves look EASY…. .............. I dont know…............... to me this is stupid…... we should be fighting better things…..... and not taking what a cop said out of porportion…...

If this isnt the end times….. I dont know what is…... but we need to pray for our country and the moral values… that are being smashed into pieces…........

Posted by Ashley | 8-05-2011 05:42

Comments about Slut Walk

I was sexually assaulted 5 years ago whilst wearing baggy jeans and a long-sleeve top. I was sat at a table in a bar when a man pretended to fall behind my chair, and pulled himself back up by thrusting his hand down the back of my jeans and inside my underwear. Unfortunately it happened so quickly that I was in shock and reported it to no-one. Anyway, that assault must somehow prove that I am a slut and so I’m proud to support my sister sluts on their walks wherever they may be. GO SLUTS!

Posted by Victoria | 10-05-2011 15:39

Comments about Slut Walk

Rights this rights that. Purely this is only about logic.common sense. If u dress like a cop I’m gonna think you are a cop.if you dress like a nurse I’m only gonna think you are a nurse. Same here. And the word slut is not to be glorified into something good. Are u telling me u want ur daughters to grow up into sluts if they choose to be because it’s not a negative thing already? Go around sleeping with men,is that what u want ur daughter to do?if yes,then good for u.

One participant wrote"just bcoz I’m showing it doesn’t mean I’m sharing it”. Yes that us true from the rights point of view. But hey, it’s like saying I’m “leaving $100000 cash on the road and I don’t want anyone to take it”.it’s my right but that is never gonna stop others. U wanna show it? Expect ppl to take it n to hell with whether u’re willing to share or not. Sick in the head these slutwalkers. Dress modestly and nicely. Don’t dress with a sign that says “fuck me”. Please women, I’m supporting u women but if u all are doing something this ridiculous then think of ur daughters future. Being a slut is nothing wrong? Goodness

Posted by Lhy | 16-05-2011 04:49

Comments about Slut Walk

The comments on this article are amazing to me.  What the cop said is absurd.  There are hundreds if not thousands of sexual assault cases that are dismissed on the basis that it was the victim’s fault for whatever they must have OBVIOUSLY BEEN DOING OR WEARING that provoked someone to rape them.  You know what?  Even if someone is actively making out with someone else and they decide halfway through that they don’t want to have sex… it is STILL not okay to go ahead and rape them.  I am completely blown away and appalled by the commenters that are validating this cop’s ignorance and stupidity.

What classifies someone’s outfit as “slutty,” exactly?  Did this woman just wear a dress and some high heel shoes, say something in fashion now?  Yeah, ok.  That makes it okay to rape somebody.  The critics of female dress have obviously never been shopping for women’s clothes.  Pull down your shirt?  Do you know how fucking hard it is to find a decent women’s shirt that doesn’t ride halfway up your stomach or show half your tits?  Give me a break.  Even if all women decided to walk naked in the streets this does not invite people to rape them.  We’re human beings.  Beyond that, many women who don’t dress “slutty” get sexually assaulted and are also blamed for their assault while the asshole who assaulted her gets away with it.  Has anyone considered that maybe we need to teach men how to have some fucking self control?  That maybe letting people get away with rape because of “he said she said” or it not being violent enough or she was wearing a low cut top is not actually HELPING the issue?

Maybe the next time I see a dude in a bar wearing a wife beater I’ll hit him over the head with a bottle.  He was obviously some jock white trash meathead asking for a fight.  If he wasn’t he wouldn’t have been out in public looking like that, you know.

Posted by MC | 18-05-2011 09:47

Comments about Slut Walk

I dont belive in rape and any abuse be it to male or female, I agree with the walk but the name so takes away from what it is all about. The word slut sadly has been around for well to long and sadly will always be around. People will dress the way they want men and women will look at whoever they are what ever way they look at them be it there boobs hanging out or a tight pair of shorts on a guy, people dress to feel good and look good and want people to know they look good, if your got your boobs hanging out yeah sure Im going to look for sure, does not mean im going to touch then, people look at people what we wear and dont wear be it fashion or not, girls will look at guys guys will look at girl thinking oh he or she looks sexy and think things and keep looking, People will always look no matter what. its crossing the line thats the problem sadly so is the name of the walk. People have looked at people and think yep thats about right thats what we have become and have always been maybe in another 100 or so years it may change I hope it does and people will think its normal to wear not much show your tits or dick or ass whatever. Pick another name it wont lose what it means sadly

Posted by troy | 28-05-2011 09:21

Comments about Slut Walk

I agree with MC. Some of the comments on this page are astounding.

The wallet full of cash on display analogy..stealing cash isn’t such a bad crime. Most people would probably take some cash they found just lying on the ground. On the other hand, rape is a totally disgusting crime. Most people wouldn’t rape someone just because they got the opportunity. There’s something totally perverse about the criminal that’s the whole cause of the crime of rape.

In the case of the wallet of cash, telling people not to leave money lying around is acceptable..because a) it’s not a big deal to most people whether they’re careful with their cash or not, and b) we can all understand why someone would take a wad of cash they find lying on the ground.

In the case of rape however, (EVEN IF your clothes increased the odds of you being raped, which they don’t) telling people how to dress is not acceptable because a) people’s right to dress as they choose is an important part of their freedom of expression, and b) most people will not rape you just because the opportunity arises.

We need to reduce rapes by teaching people not to rape. We need to address potential rapists rather than (or much more than) potential victims.

Risk factors…I think it’s acceptable to warn people of risk factors that could increase their chances of getting raped BUT, there is NO evidence that the amount skin someone is showing has any correlation to their chances of being raped…so police officers have no business telling people how do dress or not to dress.

Dress is being confused with being in a vulnerable situation, like alone, down a dark alley, late a night. This is obviously a risk factor, as indicated by the study 888 posted above:


Which says that the main risk factors are opportunity and vulnerability. So yeah, advise people not to go down dark alleys alone, late at night.

People have said in the comments above that showing skin makes people notice you and think you’re sexy, but rapists don’t go looking for the hottest person to rape or the girl who looks like she wants to have sex to rape. Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power. Rapists are looking for ANY person they can overpower and rape without being caught (opportunity and vulnerability).

People have also taken issue with reclaiming the word slut. In the past, it’s meant both ‘sexually free’ and ‘dirty’. In the past, these two were compounded…this is what we’re looking to change. We’re looking to seperate these meanings and legitimise women’s sexual freedom (just as men’s is already legitimate).

We can change, we are changing the meaning of the word slut. Yes, I hope your daughters will grow up in a world where they could be proud to call themselves sluts and testify to their sexual liberty if they so chose.

Posted by ProudSlut | 5-06-2011 16:58

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