Protesters march in Toronto 'Slutwalk'
Demonstrators march in Toronto on Sunday as part of Slutwalk, an effort to call attention to sexual assault.
April 4th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

Protesters march in Toronto 'Slutwalk'

Women and men - dressed however they want, thank you - came out in force Sunday in Toronto to protest what they perceive as a callous attitude by the Toronto police regarding  sexual assault.

Tongue-in-cheek and defiant in name, Slutwalk attracted about 1,000 people in Queen's Park and went off without a hitch, police said.

“It was very peaceful, and they got the message out that they wanted,” constable spokeswoman Wendy Drummond told CNN on Monday morning.

"We feel it was a huge success," Slutwalk organizer Sonya Barnett said in an e-mail to CNN. She said the crowd numbered closer to 4,000. "It was great to see that most people came out 'as they were,' not in the stereotypical idea of slut," she said. "Our definition is about attitude, not appearance. Just like sexual assault is not about appearance."

The demonstrators, some dressed in miniskirts and holding provocative slogans, clearly wanted to rouse Toronto residents and raise awareness about a very serious topic: sexual assault. In doing so, protesters staked their claim to take a derogatory term and wrestle it back.

"Just 'cause I'm a slut doesn't mean I want to be raped," said one female protester, according to CNN affiliate CTV.

"We should be beyond the myths of people ‘asking' or ‘deserving' to be assaulted due to their behaviour or appearance," Heather Jarvis, a movement co-founder, wrote to CTV.

The Slutwalk protest was organized in part in response to comments made in January by police Constable Michael Sanguinetti. Speaking to students at York University about community safety tips, Sanguinetti said, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” according to media reports.

Faculty and students at the university had been on guard since a wave of sexual assaults on the campus in 2008. But the police officers' visit in January, part of a community awareness initiative, was overshadowed by the constable's widely reported remarks.

Students expressed outrage that it took Toronto police nearly a month to issue an apology, written by Sanguinetti and addressed to York students and staff. “These comments were entirely inappropriate and I can assure you, the officer understands that clearly," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said in media reports.

But by then, the anger had reached a boiling point.

Barnett, who left a comment on an article about the incident on the York University school newspaper’s website, called for a demonstration and linked a Facebook page. The page had more than 4,500 likes as of Monday morning.

On Monday, Drummond said Toronto police have continually addressed the issue since the January incident and are seeking to move on.

Barnett said this is not the end of Slutwalk.

"In looking to the future, we will be working on initiatives to continue spreading the word," she said. "As SlutWalk Toronto was initially conceived to be a one-time event, the response has been so incredible that we are considering this to be an annual event."

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Filed under: Canada • Crime • Protest
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. LolaJoeShmoe

    If a women dresses scantily, it's because she's proud of the body she has, not because she's an idiot. If you think punching a woman is okay, I REALLY think you should seek professional help. No one deserves to be punched because of the way they dress.

    April 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Karl

    Some people are saying "don't dress like that if you don't want to be assaulted". Um, how about the women coming home from the gym dressed in sweatpants and hoodies being assaulted. were they asking for it? how about kids who are told they need to put on makeup by pretty much every media they encounter in order to be beautiful who are assaulted by a gang of 20 year olds. How about women with disabilities that are unable to stop their aggressors? Apparently dressing like "their asking for it" can be pretty much be applied to anybody.
    Just because a women wants to look nice does not mean its a free ticket to drug her drink or force her. These assaults happen, but we need to stop blaming the women or men it happens to and start blaming those who are sick enough to believe they can abuse them in this way. It needs to be taken seriously by the police so we can prevent it from happening to more people.

    April 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Ann

      Thank you for your support. The movie "The Accused" with Jodie Foster from 1988 covered everything the above idiots have expounded on. You are correct. Every media outlet available advocates children dressing like 'hos' and then blame them when they do not understand the contradiction.
      I hope that every one of those little boys in men's bodies have daughters and find out what it is like on that side of the line for raising children. If they continue with their disrespectful and objectifying beliefs and behaviours, their future children probably won't matter to them. All of these young women are someone's daughters, sisters, mothers, cousins, nieces, and friends. When did we forget that?

      April 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GodIsLove

    @Lola: (Nice name by the way) I think the point being made is that certain women heave their boobs out of their shirt and let their booty hang out then get upset when men talk to them. I've been at bars and been very respectful only to have the girl get furious that a guy dared to approach them. Lol And no I'm not unattractive either. It's a game being played where girls with daddy issues like treating guys like dirt, so they dress in a way that attracts as many men as possible in order to spread the hate more effectively. Of course nobody deserves to be physically assaulted, but some deserve it.

    April 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karl

      Whoa whoa whoa whoa. So correct me if i'm wrong but just because a woman might not want to sleep with you they deserve to get assaulted. Yeah anyone can be a jerk, women included, but you don't attack them for it.

      April 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      also you're generalizing horrifically about women. You think just because you're "not unattractive" that women should give you a chance. I've gone out dressed up because I'm out with friends and we want to look nice, not necessarily wanting guys to come up to us. Sorry that some girls have treated you as "like dirt" but get over yourself. We don't all have "daddy issues" and we don't "play games" with men. that's just outrageous. You should probably think about it next time you go up to a girl at a bar who is dressed nice and she doesn't swoon at you're "not unattractive"ness and realize that maybe they just went out for a drink or to dance.

      April 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Ann

      Only men without a higher education or drunks use the terms "daddy issues" and assume the position of a psychology major when they are shot down. Taking the incidents personally suggest that YOU have 'issues' that need to be addressed. When women are out with their friends they do not need to be hit on. If you are interested, apologize for iinterupting, give her a compliment, pass her your phone number and ask her to call you. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH. You just took a good chance on life with NO strings so don't take it personally.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jokester

      @Mary Ann - "Pass her your phone number"? Bwa ha ha!!! Do you really think you're all that? If I ask for your number and you don't give it to me, I'm moving on to the next one. I'm not stupid enough to think you would actually call me!

      Can't stop laughing!

      April 19, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jimmy the Hindu

    What's wrong with cows?

    April 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jen

    Thank you Karl!!!!! Everything you said is so true. It is refreshing to read comments such as yours. Although I don't personally dress that way, I don't believe that ANY person has the right to be treated like dirt.

    April 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. GodIsLove

    @Liz: How about she say "No thanks I'm not interested"? Is a little courtesy too much to ask considering I'm not some drunk who's being disrespectful and not trying to get her in the back seat of my car in the parking lot? Lol MANY women are playing just as many games as men. I've also dated some women who were complete pigs. I'm so tired of everyone treating girls like delicate flowers and men as the bad guy. Women like saying no. There are many women musicians who champion the games girls play, so spew your nonsense to someone who doesn't know the game being played. If you don't want to be approached by a guy then go to a church social not a club, but please don't pretend women are chaste angels that never play games. Not all men are dumb like you seem to think I am.

    April 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      Like karl said some women are jerks, but to say that "women like saying no." it makes you look like a huge jerk. I'm sure women would love to go to church groups to go out and have fun with their girls, especially when they want to drink. You can't generalize all girls because you herd a song or because some women at the bars don't want your attention. Maybe when sick men stop attacking women we wont have this idea of women being delicate flowers. It isn;t fair to make all men sound like rapist, nor is it fair to say that all women are teases. To say that women who don't want to go to "church groups" to have a fun evening but don't want to be bothered by others and might get fed up after 10 guys continuously bother them deserve to be attacked makes you like a uneducated idiot which i'm sure the church doesnt need more of.

      April 4, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Ann

      Again you took it all personally. This present generation has few if any manners, do not follow the protocols of earlier generations, treat each other as objects instead of people deserving of respect and think that respect is something that is reserved for close friends only. They also think that respect means ownership. That is control and abuse, not respect. People play games. Know that they do and move on. Escalating your frustration does no one any good. Expect nothing and when something good happens you can be pleasantly surprised. You do not know these people and society has a very bad habit of promoting EXCLUSION as some kind of superior way of being. It is not and it limits society as a whole. Inclusion is the only way to move forward. Knowing your motives, which can be picked up by anyone is a great place to start looking at your intentions. Instead of complaining about the games others play, look at the ones that YOU play. Also if a man is too needy, he comes across a whimpy. Too much work – I'm not his mother.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy

    We all know *some* women are on ego trips, and dress provocativly just to see how many men they can reject. Yes, that happens. We also know that there are women who want to look nice and hang out with their friends and have a drink and dance. Just because a woman looks nice, and goes to a club with her friends, does NOT mean she is their with any ulterior motive, holding a score card. Women should have enough tact to say "no thanks" without making a guy feel like a total schmuck, but conversely, when told "no thank you", men should not automatically take it as an insult and attack said woman.
    The purpose of this walk was to call attention to violence against women, and that the way they dress isn't "asking for it". No one in the world dresses a certain way hoping they get r*aped. That's nonsense, and if any man really believes that, they're not men at all.

    April 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mmmmm

    It is a crime of violence and whose motives are that of a predator: women, children, boys, girls, teenagers even the elderly. It is narrow minded ignorance to believe the caused of these groups being attacked is due to inappropiate dress. I believe the real cause is po rno graph¥ and just being evil.

    April 5, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      ...men are victims of this crime, too.

      April 5, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Maranatha

    Promoting lustful behavior in men, women, & children. We live in a fallen world that Jesus died for. Repent for the Kingdom Of God is at hand. You choose : forgiveness or judgement

    April 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Zap

    Women don't deserve to be assaulted for dressing provocatively but it certainly does raise the risk of being assaulted. If you chose to take said risk knowing it exists then you need to live with the consequences.

    I like the lady gaga/meat suit/bear example. Don't blame others for a risk you took. The world isn't fair, so deal with it.

    April 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • sciguy73

      Then I don't want to hear any complaint when you or your family members are injured in a car accident by a drunk driver. After all, you were asking for it by leaving your house, right?

      Newsflash: It doesn't matter what she is wearing. You don't get to touch people without their permission. You were supposed to learn that in Kindergarten. Perhaps a remedial class is in order.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Kate

    doub: Ok, maybe I'll walk around the forest in my Lady Gaga-like meat outfit and blame the bears when they devour me.

    Bad analogy unless you think there is no difference between men and wild animals. The better analogy is someone driving around in a flash car or wearing a Rolex watch. Society says that makes them cool and someone who steals the car or the watch a criminal. I’ve never heard a police official say it was their fault for driving around or dressing like a pimp.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kalie

    Which one, your mom?

    April 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Davis

    Wow! In the US (or at least the universities I've been to) the police take this very seriously. If you are so much as suspected, you will be kicked out for X number of years, if you're let back in at all. You can't finish your degree, and what other school would want you?

    April 19, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. joe

    There is a difference when woman get hit on a at a bar and being attacked in a dark alley.

    April 19, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rob W

    I think "Arrested Development" said it best.... "Girls with low self Esteem – Part V"

    April 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
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