Have You Heard of SlutWalk Yet?

A Canadian cop advised women to stop dressing like sluts if they wanted to avoid being victimized and his comment has inspired international protests. 

slutwalk protest
(Image credit: Archives)

Prompted by a Toronto police officer's public declaration that "women should avoid dressing like sluts" in order to avoid being sexually assaulted, that Canadian city held the world's first known "SlutWalk" in early April. Protesters (plenty of them dressed in exactly the manner the cop warned against) took to the street to demonstrate how offensive they found the guy's comment — a textbook example of blaming the victim. If anyone should know that men who engage in sexual assault often go after women covered from head to toe and often break into houses without any clue of what the women inside are wearing before attacking them, it should've been him. And yet what he said was uncomfortably close to, "Wear a mini-skirt and some three-inch heels, and you're asking for it."

And, of course, simply using the word "sluts" makes his comment sound unacceptably derogatory and sexist. People in a number of other cities throughout the world are following Toronto's lead: A SlutWalk went down in Boston over the weekend, London is planning to have one on June 4, and another will take place in Portland, Oregon, on June 11. Dallas, Asheville, North Carolina, and Ottawa, Ontario have already had SlutWalks, and marches are also planned for cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Reno, Nevada, and Austin, Texas.

I'm all for these protests, in spirit. But the phrase itself bothers me. Sure, "SlutWalk" is memorable, and there is something defiant and punk-rock about it. And yes, I get that reclaiming the word is empowering. Nonetheless, a slur is a slur, even when the group it is intended to offend uses it to describe itself. It also seems to me that acknowledging it and promoting it so publicly means that the original meaning — the intended slur — gains a certain amount of prominence. I know "Sexy Women Walk" doesn't have the same ring. And neither does "Sexy Women Wearing Whatever the Hell They Want." Possibly "These Boobs Were Made for Walking?" Well, no.

What do you all think about this?