Sluts’ take it to the streets

Sluts’ take it to the streets

Marcus Clem | editor in chief

As a brand, SlutWalk is an international phenomenon, but it’s not familiar to everyone. Even less familiar to Southeast Kansas is a group of scantily clad women walking down the street in broad daylight.

Changing people’s minds

That was the central element of the Women’s Studies Club’s first SlutWalk protest on Thursday, Sept. 19, though several women in everyday clothes and a few men also took part.
“For the most part I was just moving along with the protest march holding signs,” said Seth Carrithers, sophomore in computer information systems, “but it still felt really good to be a part of this event.”
About 30 people participated after organizers Alyssa Marsh, Jaci Gilchrist and Britnee Pond gathered their club in the Oval and began promoting the event to passersby.
It’s not a promotion of revealing clothes or sexualized behavior; it instead aims to be a message against rape.
Followers of the movement argue that there is a societal bias against victims of rape and that people tend to believe that the responsibility is on victims to avoid becoming victims.
“The most important goal that we had was to change people’s minds,” said Gilchrist, club co-vice president and sophomore in political science, “to stop the practice of teaching women how not to get raped, and just start teaching society to not rape.”

Marchers given wide berth

At 4:30, the group set out, with Pond and Gilchrist leading in protest chants.
Examples included, “Stop slut shaming; end victim blaming!” and, “My dress is not my yes!”
Gilchrist directed most of the crowd’s involvement with a megaphone, to the point where she began to lose her voice toward the end of the march.
“Do you know what causes rape?” Gilchrist asked. “Is it the clothes we wear? Is it the drinks you had at the club? Is it because we’re asking for it? No!”
Marsh said that the response impressed her.
“I was actually surprised at the number of people who both showed up and actively engaged,” said Marsh, club president and senior in fashion merchandising and marketing. “I expected that people might be nervous about chanting.”
Macy Gerken says that the protesters were active.
“We were chanting the entire time,” said Gerken, freshman in vocal music education. “There was a lot of enthusiasm for the cause on the part of everyone. It made me very happy to see it.”

Minor disturbance

The march orbited the perimeter of campus, going north on Joplin Street, east on Quincy and returning on Broadway.
The closest thing to an obstacle that participants encountered was a truck driver on Joplin.
The driver repeatedly accelerated past the march, seeming intent on drowning out the chanting with the noise of his engine.
The march proceeded from there without any further difficulty.
“There are always going to be people like that,” Gerken said. “We kept saying what we needed to say. What any idiot says or does isn’t important. What’s important is what’s being protested and the cause it represents.”

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