Slut Walk Minneapolis

October 1, 2011 § 13 Comments

I’ve been anxiously waiting for a Slut Walk to come to Minneapolis, and this afternoon I was finally able to participate. I woke up excited and only slightly morose over having to go alone. As much as I want to share action and feel supported by my friends, being by myself provided a calmer mental space. I biked over the stone arch bridge worrying that there wouldn’t be very many participants. There were. Plenty. Just as there have been in cities around the U.S., taking Canada’s cue.

Before writing a bit about my experience, I’d like to recommend reading up on rape culture and offer the mission statement of the Slut Walk MPLS:

1. The Walk is inclusive to all. Period.
2. People are not required to dress “slutty” or reclaim the word “slut”. That is entirely up to each individual. Dress in what’s comfortable for you.
3. We will emphasize the motto: It’s not “don’t get raped”, it’s “don’t rape”
4. We will encourage people to think about the Rape Culture and how it is mostly propagated by men against women, although rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone.
5. We will ally ourselves with the people in the sex industry (strippers and prostituted women and teens) and those who were in the sex industry, as we realize that they are very vulnerable to sexual assault/rape by the very nature of their work.
6. We will expect our SlutWalk participants to be respectful of all our Walkers. All diverse groups are welcome here: “radical feminists”, “riot grrrls”, “dudes”, “punkers”, “rockers”, “new wave feminists”, moms, grandmas and grandpas,GLBTQ folk, high school and college kids.If you don’t see yourself represented here, give us a shout! We want to acknowledge you. We welcome people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and religious and non religious beliefs…there is no ticky box involved. All respectful beliefs are valid.

You can also read the wiki on Slut Walks here,

I decided to dress in my running attire, because, although I consider my workout gear to be straightforwardly pragmatic — I am often made most uncomfortable by men when I’m running through parts of my neighborhood. The remarks are unsettling, especially cumulatively. Where I once wore running tops, I now layer shirts. Where I once wore leggings, I now wear oversized shorts. To the Slut Walk I wore my former favorite running combination, including a fitted sports top and running shorts.

At first, with this decision, I felt out of place. I didn’t look particularly radical, I wasn’t wearing my informed feminism outwardly. I didn’t anticipate my clothes mattering, but somehow they did. I recognized three women who I’d met a year prior and approached them to thank and acknowledge their presence, but they were cold, bothered, and did not return my gesture of solidarity. They scanned my body vertically and seemed to not recognize anything of themselves in me, and turned. I was genuinely hurt by their hypocritical (re)action to a fellow Slut Walker. There were men. I was angry with myself over how I felt that their presence validated our walk in ways that we could not on our own. I am angry with how that is probably true. I am grateful to the man who told me “You have nothing to be sorry for, don’t ever be sorry,” when I apologized for getting some of my sign’s remnants on his own. I was, however, able to thank two of the central organizers for their diligent work and they reciprocated warmth and love.

Since I was alone I was able to reposition myself in the stream of walkers several times. I walked for a long time next to a young man with a shirt that read, “I was 12,” along with a sign reading “I begged for it to stop.” Later, I passed an older woman whose chest declared, “I was 7.” Through my contributions to PussyWedgy I encounter a fair share of Slut Walk imagery and discourse, but I had not expected to see so many survivors, staking their experience openly, bravely, on their bodies. A young woman pinned a sign to her (unremarkable) shirt, reading, “This is what I was wearing when he raped me.” These messages affected me most of all. I tried to compliment as many signs as possible, and to echo the whistles and honks of passing cars.

I passed numerous young women who, through comments and nervous laughter, expressed their discomfort with chanting and unfamiliarity with how to walk in the “right” way. I hope that being there turned something inside of them to know that, at least, their presence and caring matters. There is no right way to walk. There is no hope without each other. In realizing the depths of sexism, racism, homohatred, ableism, ageism, and broad social apathy, we often feel at a loss, in despair. But it is absolutely possible to live your life against these sociocultural truths. And once you start, you’ll see that you aren’t alone. The following endures as a motivating reminder for me:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

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§ 13 Responses to Slut Walk Minneapolis

  • This is going on Facebook. Fabulous piece!
    (I was also there today, wearing my everyday clothing.)

  • Kim says:

    This was such a GREAT article!

    Thanks so much for being there….I’m glad you were there.

    I’m sorry you were ignored by some other Walkers. Goodness, we’re all about inclusivity, right?

    As to the men….we didn’t need the men to ‘validate’ the Walk….but we DID need the men to show other men that REAL men don’t rape….REAL men support survivors…REAL men are survivors as well, and they deserve support and solidarity along with everyone else.

    I hope you will Walk with us next year….and come to some upcoming Events…it takes people like you and me and everyone else who is willing to stand up and protest the Rape Culture and the victim blaming to make a change…

    Thanks again!

    Kimberia- SlutWalk Minneapolis organizer

    • Hi Kim! Thank you for your kind words. You can bet I’ll be there next year. I hope you know how grateful I am for the work you put into making the walk happen.

      I should clarify that I don’t believe, in my heart/mind, that men needed to be present to validate the walk. You’re spot on with pointing out that men are survivors too. We are all victims of rape culture.

      I think there was just something unsettling to me about my OWN reaction and feeling that they could somehow legitimize in ways We could not. I know better, but I am still struggling through patriarchal thinking in my own life. It was a good moment for reflection for me though, and I really appreciate your comments.

  • Susy Savig says:

    i’m glad you posted this- i too felt a little out of place because i wore a typical outfit of mine and made a sign that didn’t have a catchy phrase, but instead a summary of my story. however; we are all in this together and i am so glad for every person who came out to extend support. i would love to hear your story. :]

    -susy

  • Thanks for sharing your personal powerful story. I was really moved by walkers’ frank sharing too.

  • Mari says:

    I, too, arrived to by myself but knew I wouldn’t walk alone. Even when I’m weak inside, I can at least pretend to be strong for someone else. That’s what got me started, wanting to help survivors, long before I acknowleded that I, too, am a survivor.
    Every time someone else shares their strength, we all get stronger.
    Thank you.

  • wendyjean56 says:

    so articulate. proud of you. mama

  • Thanks for writing this post. I’m quite moved and now I wish I took part in the LA SlutWalk (to be honest I haven’t even heard about it nor had I known about rape culture, though I’ve witnessed this firsthand as a recent college graduate). Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience and insight!

  • Amanda says:

    Wonderful post. Reminds me a lot of Take Back the Night. I wish all people could understand that rape isn’t just about sex, or lust or whatever, it is about POWER and CONTROL. These are the things taken from victims and as a society, by condemning and shaming and saying “well what did you expect would happen if you wore that…”, we are continue to keep the power in the hands of the perpetrators and away from the victims who need it so they can not only survive but thrive. Thank you so much for your work to fight our society’s rape culture.

  • […] the knowledge to be able to know properly when someone is consenting, and when someone is not. *See my post on the Minneapolis Slut Walk and check out this Open Letter from Black Women on the subject while you’re at it. 23. Stop […]

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