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Slut Walk at Penn State: The Wrong Approach?

I’m a feminist, and I’m proud…there, I said it. Go ahead and cast your stones, but I don’t care what anyone says. I am proud of being a female, and I am especially proud of the accomplishments of the women who came before me: the women who overcame adversity, the women who stood up against inequality and were unfazed by the negativity and sexism standing in their way, threatening to stop them in their tracks.

It isn’t just women’s rights I am interested in; I care about equality for all, and believe wholeheartedly in The Golden Rule. So, now that I made everyone aware that I am very interested in women’s rights, I would like to voice my opinion on the idea of having a “Slut Walk” at Penn State, which is currently being organized by a group of students via Facebook.

For those of you who don’t know what a Slut Walk is, it is a march like the one originally organized by women in Toronto who were fed up with the ridiculous notion that what a woman chooses to wear, means she is “asking” to be raped. A comment by a Toronto police representative in January regarding sexual assault sparked the idea for the walk:  “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” The essence of the Slut Walk is to raise awareness of our society’s rape culture, and the victim blaming that has become commonplace when a woman reports a rape.

I can see why these women were enraged by this comment; it enrages me, and should enrage EVERYONE, not just women…but I can’t say that I agree with the idea of women parading through the streets, dressed in scandalous clothing in order to prove a point.  After researching the Slut Walks, which have grown in number since the first walk in Toronto in April, I found photos of women in skimpy clothing taking “back” the word slut.

The women participating in these walks, according to the official website, want to re-appropriate the word “slut” into something positive. I have never been able to understand this “taking back” of a derogatory word by the group who has felt oppressed by it.  Taking ownership of an offensive word, polishing it up, and making it new again doesn’t take away from the words original meaning or agenda. The word, in my opinion, is still offensive. Words like slut should be eliminated from our vocabulary, not given a new life.

I commend these women, because they are bringing light to our society’s culture, which normalizes the sexual objectification of women. Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault, and no one ever asks to be raped by the type of clothing they are wearing. I agree—I should be able to wear whatever I want and not have a fear of being raped because of it.

Although these women are courageously speaking out against an issue that often gets swept under the rug, I believe that a different approach could be more beneficial in making a point. It is the people who need to be informed the most about rape, the young men in our society, that will probably be the least receptive to a Slut Walk. I think that the young women of Penn State, and the men that are brave enough to call themselves feminists, could join forces to create an event that raised awareness without raising so many eyebrows.

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