UA Slutwalk 2017 deliver's bare message against slut shaming

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Sofia Moraga | The Daily Wildcat

A protestor holds up their sign at the 2017 SlutWalk, an annual event that protests against rape culture and sexual harassment.

Tucsonans and University of Arizona students marched across town during the annual SlutWalk on Nov. 9, marking the seventh year in a row the event has been held. The UA’s Women’s Resource Center and their affiliated student group, FORCE, organized this year's march.

SlutWalk is a protest movement originating from Toronto in 2011. It aims to "end rape culture and slut shaming." Protesters carry signs with slogans that address these feminist issues, and many choose to dress in revealing clothing.

“I think SlutWalk is a time for all of us to find our own expression and own our bodies,” said Brigette Villaseñor, an intern at the WRC and one of the organizers for this year’s SlutWalk. “Students can find community here... and just realize that you’re not alone in your survivorship, and you’re not alone in your support.”

Prior to the walk itself, the WRC hosted an event where participants could design and create their own feminist t-shirts, protest signs and buttons. It also provided an opportunity for like-minded individuals to get to know each other before heading out into the night. 

The SlutWalk itself began in front of Old Main at 6:30 pm. Protesters represented a diverse range of races, genders and ages, including children.

One attendee said she brought her children so they can learn that "no means no," and that they will be safe in the future, regardless of what they are wearing.

Protesters marched down University Boulevard, along the sidewalk across the street from Illegal Pete’s and No Anchovies.

Marchers yelled chants such as “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “My body my choice!”

While en route, many bystanders demonstrated their support for what the protesters were doing. People lined up outside Centennial Hall to see Noam Chomsky raised their fists in solidarity with the marchers, with some applauding.

Diners at Gentle Ben’s raised their glasses in cheers when the protesters walked past, and cars driving by honked their horns.

The group that started at the UA took a brief break at Catalina Park, where more protesters had been waiting to join the march.

The protest culminated with a rally at Revolutionary Ground Coffee Shop in downtown Tucson. 

A small stage was set up in an open area behind the shop. Various feminist groups including the Southern Arizona AIDS foundation and Voices for Planned Parenthood also had tables set up around the space.

Once assembled, organizers from the WRC explained the arrangement of the space and the schedule for the rest of the night. They also informed the crowd of a separate area set up for attendees who became overwhelmed, or were triggered by any of the sensitive issues being discussed that night, including sexual assault.

The rally began with a series of planned speakers and community leaders, many of whom discussed their experience with sexual violence. They also advocated for female empowerment in the form of continuing activism, calling for local change and reclaiming self-worth.

“Being a slut doesn’t mean you have no boundaries. It doesn’t mean you’re asking for it,” said Brenna Stauffer, one of the speakers and a UA student. “To me, it means that I like to have sex and I’m not ashamed of saying so.”

Following the speakers was a performance by the Esperanza Dance Project, a local dance troupe made up of teenagers and young adults that aims to raise awareness for childhood sexual violence. 

After the performance, organizers opened up the floor to a “Speak Out Session” for anyone who wanted to share their experiences. Several survivors came up to tell their stories, with many of them also sharing poetry they wrote as a way of dealing.

The Speak Out acted as a forum for survivors to discuss their experiences in a safe environment to a supportive audience. 

Attendees expressed encouragement and understanding with each other, that many said they felt was absent in general society. At one point in the evening, a little girl in a sparkly dress came up to give a hug to one survivor, introduced as Mercedes the Pimp, who shared her story and called the crowd beautiful. 

“I actually feel really confident,” said Jules Taglieri, a protester attending her first SlutWalk. “I’m surrounded by people that are really nice and friendly and have been through the same experiences as me, and support me and actually believe me.”


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