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Is ‘SlutWalk’ an effective Third Wave Feminist protest?


Summary of story from Ottawa Citizen, April 9, 2011

‘SlutWalk’ originated in Toronto after a police officer made the grave mistake of telling law students at a safety forum at York University’s Osgoode Hall that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victims.” (See WVoN story)

The first outing in Toronto attracted a reported 1,500 walkers. One wore a bridal gown, another wore fishnet stockings. Some wore far less.

A 39-year-old, who called herself Polly Esther, told a reporter she had been sexually assaulted after being dragged into a stairwell at age 14. She was wearing pants (trousers in British English), a coat and gloves at the time.

Emily Griffiths, a 22-year-old psychology and women’s studies student at the University of Ottawa, helped get the SlutWalk ball rolling in Ottawa.

She couldn’t afford to go to Toronto, so she decided to organize a parallel event in Ottawa. Another will be held on Sunday in London, Ontario, and others are in the works for Vancouver and also Boston, USA.

Some might ask why, 50 years after the advent of Second Wave feminism, is it still about women who wear too little and those who wear too much? 

Third Wavers see it differently. What to wear to SlutWalk? Something slutty. But only if you like. Polly Esther wore a plunging neckline and knee-high platform boots. But you can wear a burka, if you’d rather. Or a grey cardigan and sensible shoes.

SlutWalk’s purpose is four-fold, says Ms Griffiths.

1 To stop perpetuating the “slut” stereotype.

2 To protest victim-blaming.

3 To call on the failings of the police, courts and media.

4 To educate.

WVON comment: The article goes on to outline that this reclaiming of the word Slut is part of Third Wave Feminism, which also encourages women to wear ‘slutty’ clothes and have a sense of humour about it at the same time. 

But surely this is operating within the rules of a male-dominated system that frames the rebellion?

What do people think?

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