A Toronto police officer and a Winnipeg judge were two main catalysts in the formation of the Winnipeg Slutwalk. When Const. Michael Sanguinetti warned women in a personal security class that they should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized, Canadian women reacted. When Judge Dewar ruled, “sex was in the air” when a woman was sexually assaulted while wearing a tube top, heels and no bra, Winnipeg females brought the Slutwalk to the prairies.
Hundreds of women and men gathered for the second Slutwalk on Sept. 15. The walk began at the law courts and concluded at the Legislative Building.
Sherrie-Lee Chiarot, a member of the organizing team, was drawn to the Slutwalk from a deeply personal experience. She had been 14 years old (and dressed conservatively) when an 18-year-old family friend raped her.
For years after the rape the man defended his actions by arguing that Chiarot’s body language was inviting the action. Chiarot explains that victim blaming, like the one that she experienced, is her motivation to partake in the Slutwalk.
When the man contacted Chiarot years later under a fake Facebook profile, Chiarot brought the issue to the police. The police responded by suggesting that she should change her privacy settings to avoid contact from the rapist.
The police explained that since she wasn’t under any “physical threat” they could not grant her a restraining order. They would, however, issue him a warning and call her after the warning was given. Two years later, Chiarot is still waiting for that call.
Chiarot argues that they key to eradicating victim blaming is education. At 14 years old, she said that she should have known that it was not her fault that she was raped.
Chiarot explained that criticism of this event often comes from the name. She said that people often respond to the march with the argument that women need to take responsibility for their actions.
“Rapist should take responsibility and not do the action to begin with,” said Chiarot.
Kevin Reilly, a man from Booth College who attended the walk, explained that he came to support his fellow human beings. Reilly explained that, unfortunately, he knows many men who continue to treat women like objects.
Chandra Mayor, a local novelist and poet, was a speaker at the Slutwalk and stated that she was exhausted of the continued victim blaming in rape cases.
“I feel tired because everything about this matters to me. I cannot freaking believe that we still have to do this and I am so, so goddamn tired of this,” said Mayor.
Mayor explained that camp counselors, boyfriends, and landlords all sexually assaulted her, the “usual list,” as she described it.
Mayor argued that the common denominator in all rape cases was not the clothing of the victim, but that someone thought it was permissible to use their bodies as a weapon against another person.
“The only person accountable for the rape is the rapist. Period. No one asks to be raped. Seriously, think about it for a second,” exclaimed Mayor.
Mayor suggested that instead of teaching young girls to police themselves, society should teach young men to not rape in the first place.
Participants in the walk held signs with statements such as, “I can control myself, can you?” and marched through the streets chanting, “2, 4, 6, 8, consensual sex is really great”
This year’s Slutwalk concluded with a self-defense class at the University of Winnipeg, with entry donations being accepted for Osborne House.