Why I’ll Walk the Slut Walk on Sunday

1 in 2 local women will experience some form of sexual violation in their life ... but 90% of them will not report it to the police. This demonstration is largely about ending victim silence.
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Not too long ago, I wrote a piece on how complicit the average Canadian is in contributing to victim silence in cases of sexual abuse. My short blog post on why victim silence exists was met with hostile comments from both men and women across the country, a threat of physical harm in my inbox, several Ghomeshi-enthusiasts vowing to stop reading The Overcast, and many saying I was crying out for attention or for the affection of women “by siding with them.” It was my own up-close look at why women don’t speak out against sexual assault: doing so angers people, makes them uncomfortable, and stirs up overwhelming public reaction. Who needs that on top of having been sexually violated?

When people talk about a rape, it’s too common to hear utterances like, “But she was drinking, so who knows what really happened?! … but look what she was wearing, what an attention-seeking slut! … but she’s promiscuous anyway, so what’s the difference!” This is why 2014-2015 has been the year of discourse on consent: a drunk woman isn’t asking for anything but a night out with friends, a scantily clad woman isn’t inviting you to tear her clothes off, and a promiscuous woman is sleeping with whomever she wants to sleep with, NOT WHOEVER WANTS TO SLEEP WITH HER. There is a massive difference, and that difference is  called rape. You know, the most overt and disgusting violent crime. You never blame the victim. You blame the sexual predator. How ridiculous would it sound to say “Well, it’s sad that store was held up, but, that clerk had it coming: look what he was wearing!” No one wants to be violated. No one should be. And it’s always 100% unacceptable.

So that’s the purpose of Sunday’s Slut Walk demonstration: a wakeup call. 1 in 2 women in Newfoundland & Labrador will experience some form of sexual violation in their life … but 90% of them will not report it to the police. Why? Because it’s hard enough to pull yourself through such a violent violation without having to deal with statements like, “You were drunk, so how can you be sure he didn’t think it was consensual” or “But you’ll ruin his career, and your own, for being a troublemaker in the workplace.” You should see how many women are harassed by absolute strangers on Twitter and Facebook after they accuse a public figure of sexual abuse.

Another scary statistic: 95% of women will know their offender. It complicates the already emotionally and physically devastating place the victim is in. And until we have a society that never judges a woman in any way for speaking out, only 1 in 10 women will. Which means less than 10% of rapists will go to jail.

Attend this event on Sunday. Help rage against rape culture and stamp out victim silence. Everyone will meet at 2 pm at Harbourside Park, and guest speakers include local Slut Walk co-founder Heather Jarvis, lawyer Lynn Moore, Laura Winters (who represents sexual workers), and Jenny Wright (Director of the St. John’s Status of Women).

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