Friday, 9 March 2012

Because I've Had Enough.........

At six o’clock tonight, I’m going to walk in a slut walk.
I remember when I was a student at the University of Waterloo I attended a take back the night event in Waterloo Park. It was a small group of women and men from the community who came together to say that violence against women needs to stop. I heard about the event, the memorial if you will, and felt a tug in my heart to attend. I wanted to say that I stand with women who have been a victim of crime. I wanted to say that I will continue to walk beside these women, extending compassion, building trust and being a safe place to land. I wanted to express that I will look for ways to change attitudes and perceptions with my male friends, my brothers. It was important for me to be there to say that I care and that I will stand with these women.  
I grew up in a home that gave me a lot of freedom, but that also had some rules. With three girls in the house there needed to be some order. One of these rules was around what we wore out of the house. My parents wanted us to learn as we were growing up that respect was important and that as girls/women, it was important to make sure that we respected ourselves. I want to be sensitive here to other cultures and to those I share community with recognizing that we all share different perspectives on this issue.  My parents didn’t control our creativity in what we wore, but there were rules around the length of the shorts we wore and tank tops and halter tops and those types of things.  Considering we spent most of our time at the farm running around in fields, playing in the garden with dirt, or trying to beat the boys at some sport, it’s not hard to understand why there was very minimal conversation around what we were wearing and why I can say that I didn’t really feel controlled in regards to what I wore as a young girl maturing into womanhood.
I don’t look back at those “rules”, if you will, around what I was wearing as a 13 year old girl as oppressive or limiting. They helped me to develop a sense of understanding that my body isn’t the only definition of who I am as a woman. I also understand that for young children as 13 years of age when so much is happening in regards to physical development, many parents are looking for helpful boundaries.
When/if I go out these days, you’ll mostly find me in jeans and a t-shirt. Comfort over style for me. BUT, there is another factor. I don’t want to be looked at, touched, the topic of conversation around how my butt looks in the skirt or how the tank top I’m wearing works on me. I want to celebrate the company that I am with. I want to dance and share conversation. I want to enjoy my time out.   
All of that to say I was in Edmonton when I heard the news.
 On January 24, 2011 Constable Michael Sanguinetti spoke on crime prevention at a York University safety forum at Osgoode Hall Law School.  He said: "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." Out of this statement, co-founders of the slut walk in Toronto, the first walk to take place, Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis decided to use the word slut in their response. They observe that historically, "slut" has had negative connotations, and that their goal is to redeem the term. They write that women "are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result."
I stopped to think about what this statement, from a person in law enforcement meant for our society. I stopped to think about my assumptions about other women. I stopped to think about all the messaging that exists specifically for women so they can be safe.
I had to really check some of my bias. So much of this conversation asks me to examine my thoughts and assumptions first.  it’s a hard conversation to have as a women, culture, childhood upbringing, faith, workplace standards all of these perspectives influence me, yet, the one reoccurring thought that burns deep in my souls is that ASSULTING A WOMAN IS NOT RIGHT AT ALL, EVER.
At six o’clock tonight, I’m going to walk in a slut walk.
I’m walking because I am a woman
I’m walking because nothing, not the clothes I wear, not the comments I make, not how my body is formed gives anyone the right to rape or assault me.
I’m walking because I’m tired of having to justify why I’m walking in a slut walk.
I’m walking because I’m tired of everyone telling me to take friends with me when I go out so that nothing bad happens.
I’m walking because I want the men in my life to know that I will not accept anything less than the utmost respect.
I’m walking because I want the leaders in my community, in my province and in my country to start working to change policy and language around violence against woman.
I’m walking because I want to stand with those who have been victims, who are healing and are victims no more
I'm walking because I want men to hold themselves and their other male friends accountable for this discourse.  
I’m walking because all over this world women are told and made to feel that the rape, the assault is their fault and I’m sick of the lies.
At six o’clock tonight, I am walking in a slut walk.


  1. Wish I could walk with you.

  2. Wherever I am tonight at 6pm, I will take a moment and go for a walk - to join you and the others walking with you - in a statement against violence, against being 'targetted', against being blamed for begging to be a target of violence, and so that together we can put our foot down, take a stand, and march together in solidarity.