“No means NO, and Yes means YES,” could be heard for blocks in the heart of Downtown Vancouver on Sunday May 15th. The walk which began at the Vancouver Art Gallery made its way through the downtown core was the culmination of six weeks of dedicated hard work and planning from the Slutwalk Vancouver organizing committee. Our common goal was to spark conversation about the impact of victim blaming and rape culture, and highlight how it affects both women and men within Vancouver and beyond. The walk, which was the most visible part of the campaign, stopped, at various points along the way to hear the inspired and poignant words of women and men, who shared stories that as Lucia Lorenzi said in her profound spoken word piece, were in many ways all of our stories.
Slutwalk Vancouver is just one walk in an outstanding grassroots uprising that began in January after the victim-blaming comments of a Toronto Police Officer were made to a group of York undergrad students. Since then, walks have sprung up across Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South America. Over the next three months there are countless walks planned all over the world! While each walk has its own organizing team, the walks are all linked through the Toronto committee and through the belief that rape culture affects and demeans EVERYONE in our society. It is these beliefs that drew me to Slutwalk; as a feminist, a student, an activist, a woman and a mother. Thus, when I received the email looking for people who might be interested in organizing a Slutwalk in Vancouver, I needed to be a part of it. I knew that I had made the right choice as committee meetings progressed and it became clear that the people on the committee were there because they believed in starting conversations and helping to change the 'common sense' sexism that is deeply embedded in victim-blaming and sexual assault. What amazed me the most over the course of the last six weeks was the way that people connected to these beliefs. One of the ways it became clear to us that this movement was more than a walk, was through the many stories and messages we received from women and men telling us stories of their assaults. As such, we launched a campaign that encouraged participants to send us their stories that they wanted to share publicly, to post as part of our stories campaign.
Slutwalk has grown in ways that the founding group in Toronto probably never imagined. It has taken on a life of its own in some regards, spreading to cities and communities around the globe, into classrooms, and homes, the walks have been attended by an incredible cross-section of people, sparking conversation and allowing us all a chance to rethink how we interact with each other.
What more could we have asked for.~~Kat Davidson
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