May 19, 2012

My SlutWalk 2012 Experience in Brisbane

Warning: This post mentions rape and sexual assault, so if these are sensitive topics for you, please feel free to not read this post.

What is SlutWalk?
SlutWalk originated in 2011 in Toronto after a police officer told women to stop dressing like sluts if they didn't want to get raped.  This then became a global movement against blaming victims, shaming people for their sexuality and rape cultureSlutWalk started in Australia last year with rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Why did I go to SlutWalk?
I have been on the receiving end of gropes, leers and comments about my body since I hit puberty at age 12.  That's just my personal experience.  I didn't just attend SlutWalk for myself.  I also attended SlutWalk because of the number of my friends who have been sexually assaulted, raped, feared for their bodies, groped, all simply because their bodies were deemed to be public property by others.  Not just for them, but for all people who have been raped, or experienced verbal and physical abuse or harrassment for what they wear or the way that they express their sexuality.

I walked in the hopes that it would help to create a dialogue about consensual sex, healthy sexual relationships, asexuality, the failings of sexual education in schools around Australia, the rights of people to wear what they want and act how they want without fearing assault.

Mitch, Lia, Blair and I.  Photo by Lisa B.

No one should be harrassed or abused or raped for what they wear, or because they are refusing to have sex with someone, or because their sexuality needs to be 'fixed'.  Most rapes that occur are perpetrated by people close to the victim and it often has nothing to do with what they are wearingLearn more about the official statistics.

Making Signs
I had prepared my signs for this day at 1am that morning before heading to bed.  My sign ended up with the slogan "Still not asking for it; no one asks to be raped" on one side and "I am a person, not a sex toy; I require consent, not batteries" on the other.  I was hoping to make something a little more witty and I regret not covering something along the lines of 'ask before touching' as this is a topic that is close to my heart.

The Speakers
I turned up just on one and almost had a panic attack the whole trip there as I was freaking out about someone talking to me about it or getting confrontational.  Once I got there and saw my friends though, I managed to calm down and then the speakers started. I missed out on the introductory speech as I was still handling my anxiety (poorly), which I am a bit sad about.

A representative from Respect Inc (sex worker rights organisation) talked about how there is a lot of violence in sex work, which is usually written off by society as something that they should 'expect' as part of their work.  This is not right; people should never expect to be abused or assaulted because of their job.

Someone from the Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors Support Centre (BRISSC) stood up and talked about how great it was to see so many people there.  They talked about how many of the survivors often blame themselves, and that the speaker would be taking back this support, the support shown today, to show the survivors that they are not alone, that there are people out their fighting for them and fighting against a culture that makes victims feel this way.

Andrea Silva was up last and her speech was really good.  She talked about the mechanisms of slut shaming and how they are used to control people who are open about their sex lives, or who dress differently.  How people can be alienated, lose their jobs, be abused and more just because they are sexual or dress in certain ways.  There was some talk about the BDSM community and how there had been some controversy about her coming to speak.  As she said, there are negative behaviours in any community.  These negative behaviours are what need to be fought against, not consensual sex between adults.

Photo by Lisa B

The March
We walked around one block in Brisbane with about three or four policepeople on motorbikes, while following one red police car.  We drew a lot of attention and there were a lot of photos taken.  It was over within half an hour as there were only a couple hundred of us.  I hope that next year there will be a greater turn out as people become more aware of the issues that SlutWalk is fighting against.

The chants that were yelled as we went around the block are listed below (please forgive me if I have remembered some of them incorrectly).
  • 2, 4, 6, 8, stop the violence, stop the hate.
  • Hey hey, ho ho, sexual violence has got to go.
  • Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go.
  • There are no bad whores, just bad laws.

Photo by Lisa B.
In Conclusion...
It was nice to have so many people there supporting this movement and standing up against rape culture, mysogyny, victim blaming and slut shaming.  I felt more sure of myself and I felt stronger for going.  I know that I am not alone in my views or in my efforts.  I also got to talk to someone who was a rape survivor; they told me how thankful they were for this walk, how we all had to stick together and that hopefully one day attitudes would change.  I truly believe that together, through events like this, we will be able to create positive discourses about sex and create a community were victims are able to seek help without fear of persecution by friends and the media.  Thank you to the organisers for putting this all together.


  1. I can't believe I missed this post, or this event. I would have gone :(

    1. There's always next year! :) As one of the organisers said, it's not just about this one day, we are activists every day in our own lives whenever we speak up about rape culture, sexism, gender issues and more.

  2. I definitely want to attend next years event after hearing what my friends experienced and others when they were looked down/mistreated because of the way they dress


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