SlutwalkNYC: March or Movement?

Over 1000 demonstrators gathered in Union Square for Slutwalk NYC, a march and street protest against rape culture, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, as well as sexual and domestic violence.

Slutwalk NYC is a grassroots effort that began earlier this year, after a Toronto constable told University of Toronto students in a self-defense class “not to dress like sluts” in order to protect themselves. Students angered by the idea of victim-blaming mentality, that places the responsibility of safety entirely on the victims rather than their attackers, protested that and the idea that appearances are what cause female rape. Today, Slutwalks have taken place in cities from Boston and Chicago to as far as New Delhi, India.

It was an event that brought people together: victims of sexual and domestic violence, feminists, and all people in support of what Slutwalk NYC stands for. Slutwalkers shared personal experiences of sexual violence while also offering support and sympathy for each other and chanted, “The people united can never be defeated,” as they walked along Union Square.

Recent sexual assualts in Brooklyn further fueled support for the protest as reports state that police officers are requesting that women no longer wear skirts or dresses where the assaults have taken place.

As inspiring and admirable it was to many, including feminist, Alice Walker, who told that Slutwalk “speaks to women’s resistance of having names turned weapons against them.” However, it has also received severe criticism, such as the African-American community. In “An Open Letter from Black Women to the Slutwalk”, members of Black Women’s Blueprint wrote:

“We are deeply concerned. As Black women and girls we find no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it…As Black women, we do not have the privilege or the space to call ourselves “slut” without validating the already historically entrenched ideology and recurring messages about what and who the Black woman is. We don’t have the privilege to play on destructive representations burned in our collective minds, on our bodies and souls for generations. Although we understand the valid impetus behind the use of the word “slut” as language to frame and brand an anti-rape movement, we are gravely concerned.”

This is what causes some people to even question the impact Slutwalk has on the cause its fighting for, even causing some to question if this could even considered a movement rather than just a march. Salamishah Tillet of explains in her article, “What to Wear to Slutwalk” explores this idea that Slutwalk cannot sustain the momentum it had the week following the event because it does not involve the entire community. According to Tillet, a majority of people at the event were white, and as it was not inclusive of women of all races, Slutwalk cannot have the impact that it wants to have. It has to include all victims of sexual assault in order to fight against it.

For more information on Slutwalk NYC and what it stands for, visit:

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