SlutWalk, the social movement sparked by a Toronto policeman's comment about rape and dressing provocatively, came to Seattle on Sunday afternoon.
SlutWalk, the social movement sparked by a Toronto policeman’s comment about rape and dressing provocatively, came to Seattle on Sunday afternoon.
A feisty crowd of chanting, sign-waving, self–described “sluts” marched down Pine Street from Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park to Westlake Center — stopping traffic, confounding tourists and drawing an enthusiastic crowd of onlookers.
Seattle’s event is part of an international series of slutwalks, which got their start earlier this year after a Toronto police officer told a group of women that to avoid being the victims of rape or abuse, they should not dress like sluts.
The suggestion that women are to blame for a rape or sexual violence because of the way they dress has inspired activists to organize walks in Toronto, Boston, Dallas and Ottawa, Ontario. On Saturday, about 200 participants marched in the Spokane SlutWalk. Seattle police estimated about 500 participated in Sunday’s event.
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“This is too much — we don’t want to put up with it anymore,” said Robin Sacks, one of the organizers of the Seattle rally, who will be a University of Washington freshman this fall. “We’re against rape victims being implicitly or explicitly blamed for the assault.”
The crowd was equal parts women and men, young and old.
And while plenty of participants went all-out to be provocative — fishnet stockings, corsets, Lady Gaga-esque platform boots — others were dressed in bluejeans and sweatshirts.
“This is as bold as I get,” joked Judy Farbach, who wore shorts and a T-shirt. She is a founder of the group Adult Survivors of Child Abuse — Kitsap County.
Farbach said she was 6 when she was raped by a family member; she was wearing a Brownie uniform at the time. Her attacker called her a slut, implying that she could be treated as something less than human, she said.
The walk’s organizers aim to turn the word “slut” from an insult into a positive word to describe a woman who enjoys sex.
“I had someone call me a slut one day, and I said, ‘Yeah, I am,’ and he had nothing to say,” said Alison Powell, who recently returned to the U.S. after living in Africa.
She described herself as both a rape victim and a woman who enjoys sex without wanting to be bound to a long-term relationship.
Powell, wearing a lacy camisole and the word “tramp” on a sticker on her chest, said her message to men was, “You’re welcome to flirt with me, just don’t touch me, or you’ll lose a hand.”
Some of the participants brought their husbands and boyfriends. Amanda Woodard of Seattle walked with her friend Peter Donnelly; both of them wore stockings and high heels.
“As a gay man and a drag queen, it’s about empowering everyone to be whoever they want to be,” Donnelly said. “Dressing up for me is dressing however I want — there’s no reason why it should be any different for a girl.”
The marchers chanted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, sexual assault has got to go” and “So what, I’m a slut,” as they passed the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle.
The unusual mix of people — women dressed in skin-baring outfits, men dressed as if they were practicing for next week’s Gay Pride Parade and many dressed in regular street clothes — seemed to bewilder some tourists
“It’s hard to figure out what this is,” said Mike Shannon, who was visiting from the Tri-Cities with his friend Leslie Craven. Shannon pointed into the crowd: “There’s a couple of topless ones.”
“Only in Seattle,” Craven said.
Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or firstname.lastname@example.org