Women reclaim 'slut' with walk that strives for gender equality

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Briana Sanchez / Arizona Daily Wildcat

SlutWalk Tucson, an organization formed in 2011 to challenge victim blaming, makes its way around the UA campus and University Boulevard on Nov. 17.

Women chanted and held posters as they gathered under the flagpole in front of Old Main for SlutWalk Tucson 2012 on Saturday.

SlutWalk Tucson formed in 2011 to challenge victim blaming, the idea that victims of sexual assault must have done something to deserve it. The event was sponsored by the UA Women’s Resource Center and aimed to bring more awareness to women’s rights. The walk also served a celebration of everyone’s right to determine their own sexuality and who gets to share it with them. The center promotes gender equality through education, leadership development and advocacy.

“I think it is really sad that today, especially young people, don’t see that there is a need for feminism,” said Marisa Skelpsa-Munoz, head of activism for Feminists Organized to Resist, Create, and Empower.

“If we don’t recognize that there are still many issues we face in our society, then nothing happens to change that,” Skelpsa-Munoz said. “I think being an activist and putting in some effort to change the world is very important to the human experience.”

The walk also served as an open forum for attendees to discuss feminism, a term that some think has taken on negative connotations.

“Feminism is such a dirty word these days,” said Olukemi Oso, student director of F.O.R.C.E. “Often these issues are overlooked. It’s nice to have a safe place to talk freely about these topics.”

The event’s name stems from feminists’ reclaiming of the word in an effort to remove its negativity.
“[Slut] is such a pervasive word,” Oso said. “I don’t use ‘bitch’ in a negative way to put down women. I do think there is something to use these words in a positive way to take away the negative power from when people use them.”

In addition to leaders of various campus activists groups, students turned out to show their support for the cause as well.

“I’m here to stand up and say it’s not OK,” linguistics and anthropology sophomore Rachel Billeci said. “The staggering statistics of people raped and abused on a daily rate is not OK.”

Participants walked down Park Avenue, up Sixth Street and over to Fourth Avenue and back up University Boulevard to end at the Women’s Plaza of Honor.

“A lot of people have an issue with us using the word ‘slut,’” Skelpsa-Munoz said. “We need to face it head on.”

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