Second annual SlutWalk Vancouver march against victim-blaming takes place today
A second annual march is set to take place in Vancouver this afternoon (June 30) against victim-blaming and sexual violence.
According to organizer Rachel Malek, the goal of SlutWalk Vancouver is to raise awareness of victim-blaming and the idea that “clothing is not consent.” Another message central to this year’s event is “only yes means yes.”
“It’s something that allows an anti-sexual violence, but sex-positive message,” Malek told the Straight by phone. “We wanted it to be a positive message, that consent is consent when it’s offered, and if it’s not, it’s not.”
SlutWalk began in Toronto last year in response to comments made by a police officer at York University.
“He was speaking to college students and describing that if they wanted to avoid getting raped, they should not dress like sluts,” said Malek.
Similar events have now spread to cities across Canada, and overseas to places like New Zealand and the Ukraine.
“It’s an inclusive movement, and it’s one that many people have had their own experiences with, and can just recognize the need to end victim-blaming and end slut-shaming,” she said.
Malek noted organizers conducted an online poll this year to determine whether to change the name SlutWalk, and the majority of people voted to keep it. She added that while organizers welcome the criticisms of the title, it’s one that gets people talking.
“They get hit by it - they get an emotional reaction to it, and it leads them to question their own assumptions, of why do I have a positive or negative association with that, why am I offended by that,” she explained.
“There’s a lot of people who have identified with that word or who feel like they can take away the power of it as an insult by reappropriating.”
Last year’s SlutWalk Vancouver event drew over 1,000 participants. Malek noted that organizers are already planning to recruit volunteers for a third march next year.
Speakers this afternoon will include Susan Tatoosh, the director of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Michael Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, and Susan Davis of the B.C. Coalition of Experiential Communities.
The event will begin at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 2 p.m. this afternoon (June 30). Following the series of speakers, the march will take place between 3 and 4 p.m.
Related article: Photos: SlutWalk Vancouver 2012