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SlutWalk event shines light on college rape culture

Members of the Organization of Women Leaders and Central Michigan University students and community members march in the 2014 Slut Walk on Saturday, April 26, 2014. (Shannon Millard | Staff Photographer)

Members of the Organization of Women Leaders and Central Michigan University students and community members march in the 2014 Slut Walk on Saturday, April 26, 2014. (Shannon Millard | Staff Photographer)

Marching and chanting “however we dress, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no,” about 175 students marched in the SlutWalk on Saturday.

The march through campus marks the second annual installment of the national event, and takes aim against sexual assault victim blaming. SlutWalk also supports survivors of sexual assault.

“Slut is one of the most powerful four letter words that I know of,” said Ashley Scheetz, president of the Organization of Women Leaders. “It has the ability to render incredible violence and it also has the ability to bring people together marching and chanting and feeling together like we do today.”

OWLs, a Central Michigan University registered student organization, hosted the event. SlutWalk as a response, first originated in 2011 in Toronto after a police officer said to a group of women that they should avoid dressing like sluts in order to avoid being raped.

Those controversial statements helped inspire a movement, and there have since been many local SlutWalks hosted across the United States and in other countries, such as India and Brazil.

Stephanie Cumper, a Marlette senior and OWLs member, wearing a black dress and fishnets, was one of many students showcasing that ideal.

“The idea that a person can be blamed for being raped based on what they are wearing is ridiculous,” Cumper said. “It doesn’t matter what I wear, (pieces of) clothing are just items to express yourself.”

While the march is part of a national event, the CMU edition had its own flavor and message it wanted to champion, including recent sexual assaults that have happened on-campus throughout the last year.

“Every walk is a little different. Each group adds their own personal touch to it,” Scheetz said. “But one thing has always stayed consistent, and that is that blaming the victim is never okay.”

Scheetz pointed to the multitude of alleged sexual assaults occurring on college campuses around the nation, including the subsequent backlash that survivors face in the wake of bringing complaints forward. She said these occurrences are proof enough that students  are not fully aware of an on-campus rape cultures.

“We want to recognize the strength of the survivors on our campus and community and to let them know they are not alone,” Scheetz said.

The walk started in the University Center and proceeded through campus, ending finally back at the UC.

As the participants marched, they hold up signs to such as “Jesus Loves Sluts,” “Rapists Cause Rape, Not Clothes” and “My Clothes are Not Consent.”

They repeated several chants including “Yes means (expletive) me. No means (expletive) you” and “Two, four, six, eight women are sexual and sluts are great.”

Filmmaker, writer and speaker Andrea Bredbeck spoke as the keynote speaker for the event. As a survivor of three separate incidents of rape, she has devoted her life to spreading rape awareness and focuses the life changes that occur after a sexual assault.

Bredbeck spoke to the audience about her experiences, the rape culture, the need to understand the psychology of  rapist and the need for advocacy.

Morenci junior Elaina Pruzinsky, another member of OWLs, said that the reactions from onlookers were mixed.

“All people who were watching got excited. Some of the others were a little put off,” Pruzinsky said. “It seems really out there because it so blunt.”

The walk was not geared only toward women, but men who are aligned with the cause of survivor support.

Macomb sophomore Michael Sweet said he volunteered at the SlutWalk along with his some of his other brothers of Theta Pi Iota because it was the right thing to do.

“It’s important to raise rape awareness because a lot of people on college campuses don’t take it seriously and it needs to be,” Sweet said.

13 Comments

  1. Jesus may love sluts, but let’s be real. It’s way easier to be a white slut than a Black slut, and non-white bodies are already hypersexualized enough. This is a classic example of outdated radical feminism.

  2. K, I’m not able to understand where race comes into this as you mentioned above, however, I think this is a powerful event that makes a statement that will never become outdated. Respect for consent should not be considered a trend, it should be the norm for all races and genders.

    • I think you may be missing the point, race comes into most everything and being able to ignore it is a huge privilege.

      This is way old, but I think it properly addresses concerns of the SlutWalk from the perspective of Black women: http://www.blackwomensblueprint.org/2011/09/23/an-open-letter-from-black-women-to-the-slutwalk/

      From the third paragraph: “In the United States, where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, ‘slut’ has different associations for Black women. We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label.”

      There are countless other resources from the feminist community about the problems with the SlutWalk. Not all of women have the same experiences in America, and the personal is still very political.

  3. I’m sorry but why does the color of someone’s skin dictate the ease of them being a slut? No matter what color their skin is women of all or sorts are hypersexualized.

  4. Really…how does race make its way into your comment! That is just stupid.

  5. The SlutWalk doesn’t intend to dismiss that history. It intends to reclaim rightful ownership of one’s body. Female OR male, no matter how they look or are classified.
    It is a movement that strives to be as inclusive as possible, starting with the original organization in Toronto which reaches out to indigenous women in an effort to have their voices heard along with all other women. I know that OWLs put thought into this event, and made an effort to include all women – regardless of race, ethnicity, or other background – and to include men as well, because issues regarding sexuality and violence affect all of us. Doing this does not erase history or tension between varying groups of people, and those behind the SlutWalk internationally and here at CMU are aware and educated about that.

  6. white, black, asian, latino, who cares. People are people. I believe one of the main messages of the slutwalk is to show that… No matter what a human being is wearing, no matter their color, their makeup, literally anything, consent is REQUIRED. This is not outdated radical feminism. This is a group of people advocating for a group of people who have lost their voices. I am a survivor and the slut walk shows that the only thing that matters when it comes to any kind of sexual activity, is consent.

  7. at what point are people going to realize that every thing has a reaction it may not be a simple 1+1 kind of thing but if you dress like a slut act like a slut flirt tease taunt that it is not going to go un noticed and is going to have some affect on what happens to you whether its what people think about you or if you are able to go to a job interview. why do people have to go to such extremes with everything. i have the legal right to carry a gun around with me but am i going to get mad when someone stops me or calls the police. but lets not remember the main point a slut is a profession and i say that loosely but its a job. if you dress like a “best buy” employee are you going to get mad when someone ask you where something is or is it your right to dress like that and not get bothered. how are they going to know you look the same way that the prostitutes look hahaha its just a big joke. let me say that rape is bad but these anti rape crap rallies are ridiculous

  8. chipskeptic says:

    Some people should really NOT wear yoga pants. On the other hand it will diminish your chances of being attacked…

  9. michmediaperson says:

    First, let me congratulate the 18,000 students, faculty and staff members that didn’t show up for this ridiculous march of feminists. CM LIFE continues to waste time giving free publicity to people who barely can draw a crowd.

    If this group of feminists are serious in what they are saying (but I don’t think they are. They’d rather just complain and whine about men), I would support them if they would get to the root cause of the problem.

    Liberal men!!!!

    If they are really really serious and want our support, here are two things they should do:

    1. Attend the CMU Board of Trustees meeting and demand the Trustees BAN rap music from being played on campus since there are so many anti-women and suggestive lyrics in rap music. The Board eliminated tobacco. The Board could eliminate rap music. Of course, these liberal women would never do that.

    2. Call a press conference at the Michigan Democratic Party Headquarters and demand that Hillary Clinton (a darling of feminists) not run for President in 2016 because of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, who has had a history of sexual problems with women on staff and payroll.

    Do those two things ladies and you will garner the respect of the majority.

    Of course, you won’t because you like the rap music lyrics and you like Bill Clinton’s antics.

    Bunch of hypocrites!! It’s time CM LIFE calls them out!!

    • Congratulations! If feminists ever want advice from an ignorant white supremacist, you’ve provided it.

      While you wait for something that’ll never happen, quit acting out your vile urges.

  10. You are all missing the point of this rally. It’s anti-RAPE. It’s saying, “stop blaming rape for what the woman is wearing”. It’s saying, “START blaming RAPISTS for RAPE”. It’s saying that women ARE FREE to do whatever they so choose to do, including to dress however they want… And it’s telling men to RESPECT that. I agree that this event is extreme. But we are currently in a state of social change and the more outspoken this group is, the more they will be noticed. If you didn’t see this article, would you have known this was a legitimate issue? I am a survivor. I was told that because I was dating the guy that it was my fault for leading him on and if I didn’t want anything with him I shouldn’t have dated him. I was 15. Now, get off your high horse and tell me how that’s my fault. I said no. Women AND MEN, deserve more rights. More chances to say no AND YES. Sex is CONSENSUAL. That is exactly what makes it such an amazing act between two human beings.

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