As we culturally and socially have become more woke, events have been springing up throughout the country to celebrate diversity and embrace what makes us uniquely us. From Pride parades to women’s marches and rallies, all the way to fetish balls and bear bars, folks are claiming their sexuality and boldly standing in self-empowerment. While we see the shift in spite of the current climate that urges many back into the closet, there is still one broad area that has gone relatively unchanged: that of slut-shaming.
Despite age, sexuality, or gender, all across the globe, victims are still blamed for their role after acts of violence and assault, often attributing the event to the “allure” and/or attire of the person who was preyed upon. Bullies are given a pulpit, as it is acceptable to demean and degrade a person for “slutty” behavior or for wearing clothing that is considered by some subjective accusers to be “inappropriate.”
As long as slut-shaming is still an active practice and unwanted and nonconsensual behavior is affecting our friends, loved ones, and ourselves, people will continue to take to the streets and shine a light on things that still need to change.
On Saturday, September 14, the annual SlutWalk Denver will be making their way to Civic Center Park for their now eighth year of gathering for the rights of all to be able to dress how they want without fear of assault or judgement. The intersectional and international movement, which began as a result of a group of women in Toronto who were tired of the rape culture, seeks to provide education about body policing, slut shaming, and victim blaming.
SlutWalk Denver has reported that 300-500 activists and participants gather every year to voice their collective pain and hope and to educate each other and the community about rape culture. In collaboration with Awakening Boutique, the gender-embracing, body-loving, and sex-positive shop on Broadway, the march and speak-out is inviting the community to stand with them at this family-friendly event.
Even as feminists combat slut-shaming, as it often stems from an underlying or overly misogynistic narrative, the issue continues, breaching all demographics of age, gender, race, and culture. In 2015, LGBTQ feminist Amber Rose was under attack for her involvement in SlutWalk, and we have also seen the current U.S. president take to twitter to tear down women left and right long before his election in 2016.
Australia saw a massive case when labor politician Emma Husar was accused for “exposing herself” in 2018 and wrongfully, publicly shamed, which eventually led to an apology from BuzzFeed and their journalist. Even this year, in late August, Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros was criticized on social media over a dress she wore in a photograph that showed a portion of her leg that was considered “indecent.”
While women are usually the ones accused, this issue is experienced by men as well and especially those within the queer community. As we continue to strive toward a world that is inclusive, respectful, and embracing, events like SlutWalk remain necessary and important.
Photograph and flyer from SlutWalk Denver’s Facebook event page.