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A photo of the Toronto Slutwalk
A photo of the Toronto Slutwalk

Hundreds march in Toronto Slutwalk to combat sexual violence Add to ...

Tackling sexual violence and victim blaming was on the agenda at Toronto's second annual Slutwalk march Friday. But organizers opted to put less emphasis on the reappropriation of the word slut this year because it was “divisive” and “contentious.”

A planned Slutwalk march in Vancouver was cancelled this year after some feminist groups criticized the event's reappropriation of the word “slut,” saying many women don't find it empowering, according to the Tyee.

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“There's a very common misconception that Slutwalk is a walk where women come scantily clad to protest rape,” said organizer Colleen Westendorf, referring to iconic Slutwalk pictures of women marching in miniskirts and fishnets. “We've always said, 'Come as you are, as you're comfortable.' You'll notice here today the majority of people are wearing jeans and T-shirts.”

Hundreds of people marched through Toronto on Friday evening to protest rape culture. Tomorrow, Brazil will play host to a national Slutwalk march that will take place in 20 cities.

The protest started last year after a Toronto police officer told a group of York students that if they don't want to be raped they shouldn't “dress like sluts.” Slutwalk quickly took off, with marches springing up all over the globe, including in New Delhi, India, South Africa and Tel Aviv, Israel.

“Last year was a reactive response,” said Ms. Westendorf. “But over the past year, given the explosion of Slutwalks in different places all over the world, we've really gotten a better sense of how pervasive of an issue this really is. So that's why we're still here.”

Sonya Barnett, one of the founders of Slutwalk, said she acted because she wanted her son, 9, to grow up respecting women.

“It was important to me that he didn't grow up in the world that I grew up in, where 'slut' was a slur and people had the idea that rape is something that happens in a dark alley.”

Follow on Twitter: @alexposadzki

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