By: Elle Stanger
If you’ve never heard of Slutwalk, the name can be a bit stultifying. Slutwalk Portland is a yearly demonstration stemming from an international demonstration in 2011. We gather by the hundreds for guest speakers and then march through downtown Portland, sharing resources and making connections with other people in our community.
In March 2011, a Toronto constable named Michael Sanguinetti stated to a small group of mixed gender college students that “women could avoid being raped if they would stop dressing like sluts”. Even though crime statistics remind us that women are most likely to be murdered or assaulted by a former (or current) partner or by an acquaintance/friend/family member, this cop seemed to be one of the many humans who believe and reinforce victim-blaming. What were you wearing? How much did you drink? Slutwalk was originally intended for women and allies to take to the street in protest of these ideas.
Slutwalk was not created by former stripper and celebrity Amber Rose, although she has capitalized her fame by rebranding LA Slutwalk as synonymous with her name. Unfortunately, Rose hasn’t publicly spoken against any bad legislation or policies that target sex workers or women, but I digress.
Slutwalk as a movement is not perfect and each city that participates does so independently; the Slutwalk you visit in Toronto will be different than the Slutwalk you visit in Portland. Slutwalk has been legitimately criticized for focusing on white women’s feminism – which is the practice of supporting issues that are only important to that demographic of sometimes-privileged people.
As a white cisgender woman and co-organizer of Slutwalk Portland I’m committed to bringing attention to our most marginalized peoples who are often ignored during pink-pussy hat-type “activism”. So we talk about the many contributing factors to our rape culture: systemic racism, transphobia, and heteronormativity are just a few. Our guest speakers reflect the diverse and often misunderstood aspects of their lives, our educators offer suggestions or ideas for coping with difficult decisions around sexuality. And we are hoping to host a voter registration table just in time for 2018 elections.
At a time when our reproductive freedoms are facing constant attacks, as our Obama-era workplace protections are being overturned, as queerness and transphobia becomes more visible and attacked by this administration and it’s supporters, consensual sexual expression should be celebrated and supported in any way possible. Come for the gathering of like-minded people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and abilities – some people bring their kids, and some folks bring their grandparents. Join us for resources and literature that can help us stay connected to advocacy groups that are sex-positive and radically progressive. Say hello and see ya there!
Slutwalk Portland is September 9th at the PSU Park Block A: Salmon St and Park Ave, Portland at 3 pm.
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