Opinion

Slut Walk defies sexual assault philosophy | Amy Johnson

On June 19, a number of Federal Way natives travelled to Seattle to participate in the Slut Walk.

“Slut walks” have quickly become international events, in response to a Toronto police officer stating earlier this year that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

In 2009, 51 rapes were reported in Federal Way, fueling the desire for local representation in this event.

I wasn’t at the Slut Walk, so my friends sent me pictures. Included were photos of signs that read, “My dress can’t say yes; only I can,” “Real men take NO for an answer,” and “Jesus [hearts] sluts.”

This spring, I wrote about the annoying fact that, although the vast majority of sexual assault perpetrators are men, the vast majority of education about sexual assault prevention is aimed at women, teaching them how to stay safe by altering their behavior. The underlying assumption seems to be that if a woman is attacked, she did something to provoke it — or at the very least, didn’t do all she could to prevent it.

What would it look like if we shifted that philosophy 180 degrees? What if the underlying belief was that, if a woman is attacked, her attacker is 100 percent at fault? Here’s a peek at how PR might change to accomplish this shift (credit to Angela Scott):

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone.

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them.

4. Never open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator, and someone else gets in, don’t assault them.

6. Use the buddy system. If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

7. Always be honest with people. Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not intend to rape them.

8. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake.

9. Carry a whistle. If you’re worried you might assault someone accidentally, you can hand it to the person you’re with so they can blow it if you do.

10. Don’t assault people.

Silly? I don’t think so. We need some serious shaking up in our communities about who to blame for rape. Survivors of assault often report feeling re-victimized by the process of reporting and prosecuting a perpetrator. Character assaults, using a survivor’s sexual history against her or him, suggesting the survivor was in the wrong place or wearing the wrong thing — this all implies the victim is to blame for the assault.

It is no wonder that the justice department estimates that more than 60 percent of rapes go unreported, bringing Federal Way rape statistics to more like 130 per year.

Using strong visuals and radical action to create change isn’t new. Instead of uniting in fear, the Slut Walk supporters— women and men — have united in solidarity over creating a cultural norm of safe, positive, consensual sexual experiences for all people.

So, Federal Way, where do you stand? I’m sure we can organize a more local Slut Walk next year. Care to join me?

Other resources

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, there is help.

• Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN): www.rainn.org. Features resources, a free confidential online hotline, and a national sexual assault hotline at (800) 656-4673.

• King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KSARC): www.kcsarc.org. Local resources, counseling referrals and sexual predator notification 24-hour resource line: (888) 998-6423.

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