SlutWalk movement comes to Montreal
Published Sunday, May 29, 2011 1:12PM EDT
An international march to "take back the word ‘slut'"took place in Montreal Sunday.
Protesters showed their support at SlutWalk, the growing movement arguing that no one should be blamed for a rape or sexual assault committed against them, regardless of what they wear or how they act.
"We are here to say if we're a sex worker or if we're dressed sexy, there's no way it means consenting. Even sex workers have the right to say no," said Emilie Laliberte, general director of Stella, a group fighting for sex workers' rights and one of the organizers of the event.
The crowd of 300 or so came out in a variety of colourful garb, including some topless women, and others wearing shirts that read "Sluts Unite."
Members of the crowd waved placards that read, "This dress is not a yes," and "Viva la slut revolution."
The group said it is against "slut-shaming."
"In the tradition of taking back degrading slurs such as queer and re-appropriating them to remove the shame we want to do the same with the term ‘slut.' People regardless of their gender should be allowed to dress however they please without fear of judgment, harassment or violence. Furthermore, we want to deconstruct the double standard that being promiscuous is a respectable lifestyle for heterosexual men only," reads a statement on the Montreal event's Facebook page.
Micheline Chartier of Glam Gam Productions, one of the organizers, said she felt there was nothing wrong with dressing provocatively.
"I feel sexy in this, and I want to feel sexy -- but it's not an invitation," she said. "Women still face slut-shaming in our society and it's important to call that out when it happens."
The marches were sparked by a Toronto police officer who suggested that women shouldn't dress like "sluts" if they wanted to avoid being raped or assaulted.
The officer made the remarks in January at York University's Osgoode Hall, telling a group of students at an information session that not dressing like a slut was one way to avoid being assaulted.
The comments triggered a so-called Slut Walk at Queen's Park in Toronto that attracted thousands of participants.
The movement quickly spread throughout Canada, and to the U.S. and England.
The officer who made the comments in Toronto, Const. Michael Sanguinetti, was disciplined but remains on duty.
Mark Pugash, a spokesperson for the Toronto Police, said the comments "were completely unacceptable and did not reflect the way the TPS trains and teaches its officers."
Maryse Rinfred-Raynor from Universite de Montreal's school of social work said it's not surprising women are so outraged by the police officer's comment.
"I really feel that women who react to that kind of thing are right to do so, because no woman should be perceived only sexually - a woman is much more than that," she said.
It's a lesson SlutWalk attendee Jenny Cockburn said she wants to teach her seven-year-old daughter.
"Her value as a woman is beyond her sexuality, but that there's also no shame in her having her sexuality and expressing her sexuality," she said.
The Montreal SlutWalk began at Peace Park on St-Laurent St., where speeches took place with members of Stella, queer solidarity group PolitiQ, and Glam Gam.
The event ended with a party at Le Drugstore bar. All proceeds went to Stella.
With a report from CTV.ca