The first SlutWalk since the start of the #Metoo movement remains a powerful protest against rape culture
Protesters chant feminist songs as they walk down University Boulevard on Nov. 5, 2018 in Tucson, Ariz.
Protesters dressed as “sluts” marched from the Women’s Plaza of Honor to the Rialto Theatre in SlutWalk 2018. This was a worldwide protest aimed at reclaiming the word “slut” and fighting for women’s rights over their bodies. Protestors sought to bring awareness to sexual violence, end rape culture and discuss consent.
This year’s protest was hosted by FORCE, the University of Arizona Women’s and Gender Resource Center and the Southern Arizona Aids Foundation. FORCE stands for Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower, and it is a feminist group on campus.
Mekayla Walters, one of the coordinators of the SlutWalk, said that she and other planners had a new goal in mind this year.
“Historically speaking, people included in SlutWalk have been cis white women. The whole idea, especially this year, is intersectionality. That was our main priority — encouraging diversity,” Walters said.
Yoleidy Rosario, director of the Women and Gender Resource Center, spoke at the beginning of the protest at the Women’s Plaza on campus.
“It’s great to see people who are passionate and coming out here and demonstrating unity and being in solidarity with one another,” Rosario said. “I think that’s really important and healthy right now, given all of the things happening in our nation.”
Alejandra Pablos, a field coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, spoke at the Rialto Theatre about sexual violence and consent. “The SlutWalk is a rally, march, protest and a movement into making visible the prevalence of victim blaming, rape culture, street harassment and sex violence,” Pablos said.
Pablos talked about her experience and feelings about victim-blaming and slut-shaming. “I’ve been considered a slut from every deportation officer I’ve encountered.” Pablos said. “I’ve been considered a slut by every man that’s asked me out on a date and I’ve refused. Consent is something new to me.”
She expressed gratitude for the Tucson community that supports her and was one of the leading protesters in the SlutWalk.
Lily Cain, another volunteer at the SlutWalk, had her own interpretation of what the SlutWalk means.
“The mission is to chip away at the idea that rape culture provided us with — people who survive these sort of events are sluts, and that to be a slut is a thing,” Cain said. “I think it’s to reclaim the word slut and to show that anyone can be a victim.”
Tucson activist Leilani Clark was one of the leading voices in the SlutWalk. She carried a megaphone and led protestors down University Boulevard and Fourth Street while leading chants like: “We have the right to walk alone at night,” “Yes means yes! No means no!” and “Solidarity is our weapon!”
At the Rialto Theatre, Clark gave a speech about the movement for women’s rights over their bodies and bringing awareness about sexual violence.
“This movement to end rape culture and to dismantle sexual violence is going to be survivor-led. It needs to be that way,” Clark said.
Jackie Joslyn, a graduate student of sociology at the UA, spoke on what it meant to be a participant in the demonstration in light of the #MeToo movement.
“Sexual assault is such an important issue right now. It’s bringing a lot of women together in ways that they never have before,” Joslyn said. “The identity of being a woman has always been kind of secondary to other identities, and this year, and in the past couple of years, this has been brought more to the surface.”
Another participant in the SlutWalk shared her motivation for participating.
“I, myself, went through sexual assault last year,” she said. “I wasn’t able to use my voice then, but I think the events that the Women and Gender Resource Center has put on, such as the ‘I Will’ week last semester and the SlutWalk this semester, I’ve been able to find my voice in a community that helps me get through it.”
Once protestors arrived to see the band, Vasectomy, perform at the Rialto Theatre different speakers came on stage and shared. Alejandra Pablos did introductions.
Kristen Godfrey, SAAF representative, made a speech at the Rialto theatre discussing the the importance of the movement.
“The Senate will not do it,” Godfrey said. “They do not give us progressive laws. The Supreme Court does not give us progressive laws. People demand change. We do that.”
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