SlutWalk, a social effort considered by some as a modern day women’s movement, has continued to draw support from both men and women around the world. The movement, which originated in Toronto in 2011, advocates against victim blaming, survivor shaming, and rape culture. Since its founding, it has reached over 200 communities in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The movement was created a direct response to comments made by a Toronto police officer that perpetuated misconceptions about rape. His words sparked a transnational response, uniting a diverse group of people to address the harm that results from pervasive and insidious victim blaming.
Though the name itself is provocative, according to co-founder Heather Jarvis, its meaning is twofold. An original motive of the movement was the reappropriation of the term “slut.” The branding was intentional, designed to challenge this offensive language, and encourage discussion about rape culture.
The conversation however, has recently shifted. Earlier this month, many award winning actresses and prominent figures were the victims of what some consider a sex crime. Following the release of hundreds of intimate, behind-closed-doors photos, many commentators began a campaign of victim blaming and shaming. In response, Girls creator Lena Dunham took to social media, encouraging the public to remember that viewing the pictures amounted to “violating [the] women again and again.”
Somehow, today’s society unjustly and continuously blames women for the illegal actions of others. This extremely disheartening trend underscores the need for social movements such as SlutWalk, which offers a constructive approach to this important social issue. It is to be hoped that through education and awareness, movements like SlutWalk will eradicate rape culture in our lifetime.