On Saturday, September 6, Goucher’s Feminist Collective (FemCo) bought over fifty students to participate in Baltimore’s annual SlutWalk. SlutWalk is an international movement that came about in 2011, after an incident where a Toronto policeman said, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” The movement, which holds Slut Walks in many cities, aims to “end victim-blaming and slut-shaming,” and to end rape culture, according to its website.
The representatives from Goucher joined other members of the Baltimore community to march from the Bank of America building, through the Inner Harbor, to City Hall dressed like “sluts.” The people who participated in the walk sported various kinds of attire, or the lack of one. Some wore a t-shirt and shorts, others wore a bra and shorts, and some women and men wore only duct tape over their nipples with shorts. Most of the participants held up various signs with slogans such as “End Rape Culture,” “Goucher Sluts Unite,” and “Consent is Sexy.”
Throughout the walk, the group accumulated a variety of responses from the general public.
Some responses were positive, and applauded the group for standing up against slut shaming and sexual assault. Others, however, were displeased that so many people were wearing next-to-nothing in a public place. One middle-aged man who walked by and said to the group, “Down with women. Up with men.”
At the conclusion of the walk at City Hall, various speakers gave presentations to the walkers in order to further convey the message of the event. One speaker, who introduced the importance of the movement, said, “The word ‘slut’ was redefined by SlutWalk founders…as someone who is in control of their sexuality.” She placed an emphasis on “no shame,” articulating that those who are victims of assault should not be ashamed of their sexuality or who they are.
Sara Wilkinson, the president of the Maryland chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), a grassroots movement that works towards women’s rights, also spoke. Wilkinson emphasized that rape can happen anywhere, including college campuses, and encouraged the participants in the walk to take political action on this issue. She reminded those in attendance, “We are privileged to be here in Baltimore, where the police are not harassing us. We can wear whatever we want,” and to “Look around and see who’s not here, think about why they’re not here.” Wilkinson ended her talk on the note of teaching today’s youth about the need to end street harassment and rape culture.
Hollaback Baltimore, an organization that works to end street harassment, helped coordinate the SlutWalk and had one of their co-site leaders, Mel Kellner, speak at the SlutWalk. Kellner’s message focused on this, as she explained, “Ending street harassment means ending all of this stuff [rape culture] and changing our culture, shifting us over to being consent-oriented, to recognizing that women and queer folks define ourselves [and] dress the way we…want.”
The overall message of the event encouraged people to speak up against assault, and not to be silent if they are in this situation. In order to help spread this message, participants were invited to share their own stories with the group, and a couple of Goucher students took this opportunity.
FemCo co-presidents Natalie Dibo ’16 and Mackenzie Anderson ’16 are proud that “Goucher, the smallest school in the Baltimore area, represented about 80% of the protestors at [the] SlutWalk.” They also said, “FemCo’s outstanding presence at SlutWalk Baltimore highlights our focus, concern, and passion on the issue [of slut-shaming].” Dibo and Anderson are “excited to build on the momentum that SlutWalk generated.”