Slutwalk Chicago came to town yesterday and it was great! Here are 3 facts that might surprise you about the event and the Slutwalk movement. These three facts have been underreported – and in some cases even twisted – by the mainstream media.
1. Slutwalk wasn’t (mostly) about sluts.
But don’t believe the media hype, or the carefully selected media images, suggesting that the march consisted of 2,000 women in lingerie. Most of the marchers were wearing everyday clothing, of all varieties, reflecting their individual identities and personal styles. The overall message was to put an end to victim-blaming, no matter what survivors are wearing.
2. Men were a central part of Slutwalk Chicago.
Men marched on their own, with their girlfriends, with their boyfriends, and in groups. Men worked as volunteers along the route to support the marchers. They cheered and chanted, they held signs saying “An injury to one is an injury to all” and “Fight for a World Without Sexism.”
This was one of the most moving and underreported aspects of the march – to see men out on the streets demanding an end to violence against women is a huge shift in a movement that has long alienated male allies.
We in the anti-violence movement need to embrace this change, and to further encourage male allies to organize workshops, rallies and other events to speak out against violence.
3. It’s time for the anti-violence movement to listen to younger women, who have developed important new messaging.
If you think an anti-violence march only has the message of “end violence,” then listen up: this march aimed to promote positive sexuality that is consensual and free from violence. Posters like “Wow, I like sex so so much when it’s consensual!” send an important message that many younger women in the movement have embraced.
You hear it from groups like SHEER (Sexual Health Education to End Rape), a group that has partnered with many organizations in Chicago, including the Taskforce, to build a new sex-positive anti-violence movement. In their own words, SHEER is
a survivor centered, sex positive, pro-consent coalition formed to prevent sexual assault, abuse, harassment and victim blaming and to address myths about rape by promoting an affirmative consent standard as the cornerstone of healthy sexual interactions. An affirmative consent standard calls for the use of enthusiastic consent that is active, mutual and ongoing throughout a sexual encounter.
This new messaging is helping to shape the movement going forward, and it was displayed in full force at Slutwalk Chicago.