Walk comes on heels of controversy

Annual SlutWalk takes place in midst of men’s issues debate

Organizer Shelley Murphy marches in SlutWalk.
Organizer Shelley Murphy marches in SlutWalk.
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A protester carries an anti-victim-blaming sign.
A protester carries an anti-victim-blaming sign.
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The third annual SlutWalk took to the streets of Kingston last Sunday afternoon.

The walk began in City Park at 2 p.m. with speeches and spoken word poetry.

Organizers Danielle Freeman and Shelley Murphy, members of the organizing group Sexy Queen’s U, were among those who gave speeches, discussing the significance of SlutWalk, rape culture and personal experiences of survival.

“Sexual assault is an all too common event in our society, affecting many men, women, non-binary individuals and children.

"However, it is often a topic that is shied away from, and pushed under the rug. When it is talked about, it is often discussed in a way that blames those assaulted,” Murphy, ArtSci ’14, said in her speech.

“It is time to put sexual assault survivors first.”

She criticized societal victim-blaming and the presence of rape culture in Canadian society.

“We are all here to protest these poisonous attitudes that are all too common. We are here to demonstrate that these attitudes will not be tolerated any longer. We will hold ourselves, our families, schools and institutions to a higher standard, as we demand that sexual assault survivors be supported instead of blamed.”

Daniel Beals, president of the Kingston and the Islands NDP riding association and an activist involved with White Ribbon Kingston, also gave a speech.

This year’s SlutWalk came on the heels of controversy over the attempted de-ratification of the Queen’s Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS). Last year’s march also followed controversial comments on sexual assault from past AMS presidential candidate Alexander Prescott made after the campaign.

Freeman, ArtSci ’14, said that the response to SlutWalk has been largely positive.

“We seem to always have weird AMS things going on at the same time,” she said.

“I swear we pre-plan the SlutWalk, and then things just seem to happen around it.”

Freeman said she decided to join SlutWalk after seeing photos from the first march.

“I saw the photos on Facebook and I knew I wanted to be a part of the group,” she said.

According to the pair, Facebook has been both a positive and negative tool for SlutWalk. Freeman and Murphy both said that one of the challenges of planning this year’s SlutWalk was getting the word out while avoiding online harassment.

“We tried not to advertise it too soon because last year we had a problem with people trolling on the Facebook group,” Freeman said.

“So we wanted to do it like maximum two weeks before the event because we didn’t want people writing horrible things on the wall again.

“We just kind of leave it up to Facebook and word of mouth to get people here, so we’re always not totally sure about the numbers, but it turned out well.”

Several dozen people turned out to the march, which followed a route down Bagot St. onto Stuart St., before walking up University Ave. and turning onto Princess St.

The protesters were on the street, getting a few honks, to which the response was a cheer.

As they marched, they called out several chants: “Little black dress does not mean yes,” “hey hey, ho ho, rape culture has got to go,” “hey, ho, no means no,” “two, four, six, eight, no more date rape,” “we’ll keep cheering, you’ll keep jeering, tell you once, tell you twice, no means no” and, more simply, “no means no.”

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