I was so excited to attend SlutWalk Seattle with my friend Sera two weekends ago. Seattle got a very interesting makeover (see pictures above) when hundreds of people gathered to protest an all too common (and completely ridiculous) notion: that women "should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
As the event's website explains:
People aren’t assaulted because they invited it or enticed others to it by looking a certain way; they’re assaulted because somebody chose to assault them. Saying that survivors could have protected themselves by not looking like “sluts” implies that the survivors are at fault and creates a culture in which the heinous crime of sexual assault is seen as no big deal.This was my first real "protest." I probably saw more skin that day than I've seen in my entire life, but the fact that people could be so bold in order to make a point (i.e. it doesn't matter what you're wearing — or not wearing — rape is never okay) was truly inspiring. In my nothing-fancy Seinfeld t-shirt and jeans I felt a little intimidated at first, but once I started talking to random people and asking to take their pictures, I realized that these were some of the kindest and most activism-driven people I'd ever met in my life.
Sorry for the cliche, but you really can't judge a book by its cover.
The event itself consisted of marching from Cal Anderson Park to Westlake Center, both in Seattle. The atmosphere was incredibly positive and uplifting, even though we got a visit from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. If you've never heard of WBC, they've gained national media attention for protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers and spreading their hateful, homophobic, anti-Semitic religious dogma at a variety of high-profile events. WBC hates Jews, homosexuals, the U.S. military, sluts (and many others, I'm sure), and are known for their bold, colorful signs that say everything from "Aids Cures F*gs" to "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
I was excited to see WBC in person. I wanted to see the idiocy up close.
I didn't get any good shots of WBC in Seattle, so I had to Google a photo.
This is actually one of the less offensive pictures I found!
For me, the most surreal and passionate and amazing part of the protest was when everybody chanted together. Hundreds of voices tangled to create a gigantic, powerful echo; we rattled the entire city with sayings like "Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no, and yes means yes!" and "When women's rights are under attack, what we do? Stand up! Fight back!"
If you can imagine the strangest collection of people ever — men, women, children, the elderly — of every orientation, color, body shape, and style of dress — all united by a common cause, that's what SlutWalk Seattle felt like. Being a feminist can feel lonely and alienating when it seems like the world is against you, but last Sunday I was embraced by an entire community of people who were willing to risk anything to fight for women's rights.
Another poignant part of the day was when we heard from Cee Fisher, a member of a socialist feminist organization called Radical Women. At one point she screamed "Show Seattle what a feminist looks like!" into her microphone, and everyone in the crowd pointed to themselves and repeated the sentiment.
I'm not a loud person by any means. But when Cee Fisher challenged us to show the city — neigh, the world — what a feminist looked like, I pointed to myself and screamed along with everyone else.
You know those times when you feel so impassioned you just want to cry?
That was one of those moments.
There were some very powerful speakers at SlutWalk. We heard from feminists, a spoken word artist, and even people who've experienced rape and sexual assault first-hand. Here's a video of one speaker who nearly had me in tears. A recent women's studies major and graduate of the University of Washington, this woman explained what she had to go through to convict her attacker.
- SlutWalk Seattle 2011 (Flickr)
- SlutWalk Seattle Photos (Facebook)
- Reclaiming Stereotypes by Kirsten Johnson (UW Newspaper)
- SlutWalk aims to empower women through a bold message by Elizabeth Dinh (Komo News)
- Rape awareness aim of Sunday's SlutWalk in Seattle by Katherine Long (Seattle Times)
- Hundreds march in Seattle 'SlutWalk' demonstration by Tonya Mosley (King 5 News)