In January 2011, Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti addressed a small group of York University students on campus safety. Prefaced by the statement ‘I’m told I’m not supposed to say this’ he went on to advise that, ‘women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized’ (Kwan 2011). While his intention might have been to protect women, his comments that ‘slutty’ women attract sexual assault perpetuated the long-standing myth that victims are responsible, or somehow ‘are asking’ for the violence used against them. In response to PC Sanguinetti’s comments, Toronto residents Heather Jarvis and Sonya Barnett translated their anger at the ways women were slut-shamed and victim-blamed, into political activism. Creating a website and Facebook and Twitter accounts, the women invited the public to join them for a ‘SlutWalk’ to the Toronto Police Headquarters to vent their frustration. On 3 April 2011, the first SlutWalk set off from Queen’s Park in Toronto, attended by thousands. Although the organizers asked people to dress in their normal, everyday clothing to demonstrate the ways that sexual assault occurs no matter what women wear, a number of attendees showed up in ‘provocative’ attire to make a statement that no matter how they dress, they do not deserve to be assaulted.
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