This weekend, Philadelphia will become the latest venue for a women’s rights demonstration that has been circling the world. On Saturday, “SlutWalk” will draw attention to a word that has been used to describe some victims of sexual assault.
The name is only part of the provocation. Many participants in “SlutWalk” are expected to dress in clothes considered revealing or sexual. Demonstrators are speaking out against blaming victims of rape and sexual assault based on how they dress.
While many observers support the message, many scratch their heads over the way it’s being delivered.
“Shame or blame should never be on the survivors,” said Aishah Shahidah Simmons, a local filmmaker and activist. “It should be put on the perpetrator. Words like slut and whore should not play a role in how we view women who have been raped or assaulted. That’s what happens: she’s a slut, she’s a whore, she deserves what she gets. For me it’s really challenging, this name-calling.”
The first SlutWalk occurred in Toronto after a police officer said women should avoid dressing like sluts. Last month, something similar occurred in Philadelphia when the editor of a local arts blog wrote that women bring sexual assault on themselves by dressing provocatively.
SlutWalk begins at 11 a.m. in Louis Kahn Park on Pine Street.