By Russel Contreras, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — This social movement really gets around.

An international series of protests known as SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer’s flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to avoid being raped or victimized, is taking root in the United States.


WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports
Some women and men who protest dress in nothing more remarkable than jeans and T-shirts, while others wear provocative or revealing outfits to bring attention to “slut-shaming,” or shaming women for being sexual, and the treatment of sexual assault victims.

“It was taking the blame off the rapist and on the victim,” said Nicole Sullivan, 21, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an organizer of the SlutWalk planned Saturday in that city.

“So we are using these efforts to reclaim the word `slut.”‘

The police officer made his comments in January to a group of York University students at a safety forum. He later apologized, but his comments were publicized widely on Facebook and Twitter.


They inspired a march in Toronto last month that drew more than 3,000 people, as well as SlutWalks since then in Dallas, Asheville, N.C., and Ottawa, Ontario.

In addition to Boston, marches are planned in cities including Seattle; Chicago; Philadelphia; Reno, Nev.; and Austin, Texas.

“The event is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault,” said Siobhan Connors, 20, of Lynn, Mass., another Boston organizer.

“It’s to bring awareness to the shame and degradation women still face for expressing their sexuality … essentially for behaving in a healthy and sexual way.”

The events are similar to “Take Back the Night” rallies and other marches that aim to bring attention to sexual violence. But there are key differences.

SlutWalkers have danced to hip-hop, worn T-shirts with the word “slut” and held signs that read “sluts pay taxes.”

Some women have skated around on Rollerblades in lingerie, while their male supporters wore shirts reading, “I love sluts.”

The rallies typically end with speakers and workshops on stopping sexual violence and calling on law enforcement agencies not to blame victims after sexual assaults.

In San Francisco, SlutWalk organizers want to make their protest a family event.

“Singles, couples, parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends,” the SlutWalk SF BAY Facebook page announces. “Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us.”

Connors said organizers had initially planned for about 100 people to attend the Boston event; by Thursday, more than 2,300 had responded to a Facebook shout-out.

Another 2,000 people have similarly committed to attend the SlutWalk Seattle on June 19.

“Everything happened organically,” Sullivan said.


The officer who made the comments, Constable Michael Sanguinetti, was disciplined but remains on duty, Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said Thursday.

“We said at the time that his comments were entirely unacceptable, that they didn’t reflect in any way what we train and teach our people,” Pugash said.

Pugash wouldn’t comment on the movement the officer’s comments have spawned.

The Boston SlutWalk group has had to delete several “inappropriate comments” about women and faced criticism from a group that promised to organize a counter “Pimp Walk” in Boston, Connors said.

“We think it was put there as a joke, but it’s disturbing that a number of young people still feel that way,” said Connors, referring to sexist comments left on the page.

Pages dedicated to other cities’ SlutWalks also deleted inappropriate comments.

Connors said the Boston SlutWalk will proceed from Government Center at noon to Boston Common.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (9)
  1. Willow says:


    I don’t believe there is ever an excuse for rape or any other kind of sexual violence. However, I will say that girls as young as 12 years old strut around looking like a Bratz doll, which in my opinion look like street walkers. I hate the “S” word so will stick to the word, “suggestive.” If you don’t want to be noticed, then don’t call attention by showing everything you possibly can without breaking the law. Women don’t have to dress in such a manner to show their sexuality.

    1. Ultraviolet says:

      Would you say the same comment if a 12 yr old boy was not wearing a shirt in the Summer and got raped? It’s not “Women don’t have to dress that way”. It’s Men Don’t Have to Rape. It is a crime, you know.

      1. dms says:

        Nobody argues the fact that the fault lies with the rapist and only the rapist. I think the intention of the Canadian officer’s comment was that wearing less provocative cloth may reduce the risk of getting raped and that’s clearly something I would also say to my own daughter. I wish I didn’t have to but that’s just the way it is.

        If, as a woman, you want to proof a point at the cost of your own safety then go ahead and walk half naked through the commons at night. Should you be able to? Of course. Is it advisable? Probably not. Same principle as avoiding certain section of the city at night.

  2. Buddy says:

    Is this for real? Give me a break. Get a life. How stupid is this?

  3. Maggie says:

    It does not matter what you wear or do—NO MEANS NO and there is NO excuse for violence of any kind against women. I don’t care if a woman parades naked down the street–no man (or woman) has the right to touch her without her consent.

    1. Ken says:

      A police office should be able to touch her and haul her a** to jail! – “It is a crime, you know”!

  4. Lowell Mass says:

    Sexual crimes has gotten higher when the exploding of illegal immigrant numbers got higher here in this country, No means No but to those who don’t belong here in this country No does not apply to them. They don’t care about the word NO! I know there are sick minded people in all groups of people no matter what ethnic back ground but sense the growth of illegals grew so did their crimes and their illnesses that they bring over with them. I know that this is not a cure for sexual crimes against women and children but people should review who commits these crimes and if they belong in this country, you will see what I’M talking about, the words you don’t belong here is the same as the word NO!

  5. Midol4all says:

    Another opportunity for bitter, selfish females to over react on a comment every body knows holds a bit of truth.

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