slutTALK 2012: Conversations One Year After the March

by Angela Marie MacDougall

Battered Women’s Support Services is headed to slutTALK 2012 today.

Here’s the Facebook info:

In our work and in our lives, at BWSS, we are serious about taking action to intervene and prevent the attitudinal, institutional and systemic factors at play that support rape culture, the mainstreaming porn culture the endemic victim blaming that impact all of our lives as girls and women. These are the forces that train our boys and our men toward misogyny and violence against not only us but against themselves too.

80 percent of women who access our services are dealing with some type of sexual violence and we are navigating these problematic cultural norms affecting our lives on a daily basis.

So we are headed to slutTALK 2012 and we will participate…I will attempt to live blog during the event (see my updates starting at the bottom)

SlutWalk started when a Toronto Police Service member suggested women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like a “slut” in that moment a catalyst that ignited an international action for change:

The action was driven by and through social media and 2011 galvanized the vital of social media in the work for social change:

I have been saying that SlutWalk isn’t a movement rather a moment in the over 40 years of women and feminists organizing for liberation and an end to violence against girls and women.

SlutWalk, important moment
…and not everyone wants to “reclaim” the word “slut” or thinks the name of the march is empowering.

This is me speaking at SlutWalk Vancouver 2011.

Here’s a Ms blog by Jenell Hobson on some the dialogue and critique by African American women of SlutWalk:

Harsha Walia provided a deep path through much of the complexity in this post:

“SlutWalk — in its slick branding — runs the risk of facilitating the dominant discourse of “liberated” women as only those women wearing mini-skirts and high heels in/on their way to professional jobs. In reality, capitalism mediates the feminist façade of choice by creating an entire industry that commodifies women’s sexuality and links a woman’s self-esteem and self-worth to fashion and beauty. Slutwalk itself consistently refuses any connection to feminism and fixates solely around liberal questions of individual choice — the palatable “I can wear what I want” feminism that is intentionally devoid of an analysis of power dynamics.”

In 2012, to their credit after hearing criticisms about the Slutwalk name from Indigenous women, women of colour, feminists, and activists and other marginalized groups, SlutWalk Vancouver — has opted to hold a discussion instead of a SlutWalk march.

As reported by Meagan Murphy in The Tyee, Slutwalk Vancouver organizer Natasha Sanders-Kay said, “we obviously heard a lot of criticisms about our name and we wanted to provide a space to acknowledge and address those criticisms,”

Here’s Meagan’s Tyee article:

SlutWalk Vancouver hopes critics and supporters will continue the discussion today about sexual violence, rape culture and ways to address them. Very interestingly SlutWalk Vancouver 2012 want participants use the discussion today as an opportunity to decide whether or not the name “Slutwalk” is effective, or if there are better alternatives.

Here’s from SlutWalk Vancouver 2012 website:

slutTALK 2012: Conversations One Year After the March
One year later, our concerns are still ever-present as victim-blaming continues in the media, the criminal justice system, and in many other interconnected institutions that affect communities on a daily basis. The rape culture persists, and so SlutWalk Vancouver sees a need to continue organizing. This year, so far, we have been organizing two events to facilitate conversations one year after the march, including a film screening night the evening of May 15th, and an unconference the afternoon of Saturday, May 26th. The dialogue that results is going to play a major role in determining the direction of SlutWalk Vancouver. The next walk is June 30th at 2:00pm, starting at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Join the conversation now to have your say in what that walk will look like, and what it will be called!


Why is the term “slut” in the movement’s title, and why is it in the title of this year’s events?

We marched under the “SlutWalk” banner last year because we felt that the word “slut” effectively captures the sense of stigma and victim-blaming that happen when women are raped. For some organizers and supporters, our use of the term was an attack on the very concept of a slut. For some, it was a reappropriation of the term to halt its oppressive power. There have been many critiques of the name, so we are using this year’s events to acknowledge and explore some of those criticisms, and to invite both our critics and our supporters to share their input. We’re focusing on the “talk” behind the walk, and exploring the politics of the word “slut” and what it means to different people.

Media representations of SlutWalks have been problematic and detracting from the message. Joanna Chiu provides insight into the media response in this post:


Right now…



Ting Ting has just presented her paper Beauty and her Patriarchal Beast: a comparative analysis of Twilight and True Blood Seriesand we are discussing Twilight And True Blood series.

Slut shaming and why it’s wrong by Sarah MacLeod

Isaac Louie, BWSS YOUth Ending Violence facilitator is in the discussion about about slutshaming in high schools. Looking forward to adding his comments.


Introducing SlutTALK: Conversations on language and sexual violence
BY Lucia Lorenzi

Rosa Elena Arteaga and I are sitting in on a discussion of the future of the march and planning for the next event. A march has been scheduled for June 30th at 2 pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery.


Danielle Lee Williams is sitting in the discussion Asexuality & Sluts & Polyamory