Over sixty students chanted and marched around the residential side of campus on Thursday for the annual SlutWalk, hosted by Sisters United.
Junior and Sisters United vice president Kaila Johnson said the SlutWalk originated in Toronto after a police officer said publicly that if women do not want to be raped, they should not dress like “sluts.” SlutWalk has since become an international movement, held in cities all over the globe.
“The purpose of SlutWalk is to march, rally, and protest against rape culture, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming,” Johnson said. “It is a walk of solidarity with those who have survived rape and sexual assault, and a way to show that a woman’s clothing is never an excuse for violence against her.”
She said the event was brought to OWU about five years ago by Nola Johnson, who graduated last year. Due to the provocative title, she had to fight the administration to gain approval for SlutWalk to be held on campus. Since then, the event has been held every year.
SlutWalk attendees gathered in front of the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center at 6 p.m. on Thursday for the event. Posters and a sheet of chants were available to anyone who wanted them. Johnson spoke about how the event originated and called for end to victim-blaming and slut-shaming.
Student representatives from the Spectrum Resource Center, Women’s House, Pride and the Women’s Resource Center spoke about what services their organization offers and what they stand for. A staff counselor from counseling services also attended and said she was available to anyone who wanted to talk to her.
Students then walked down the JayWalk, holding up their posters and saying chants like “A little black dress does not mean yes” and “Hey hey ho ho patriarchy has got to go.” The protesters walked down Rowland Avenue, through the circle of fraternities and around House of Black Culture before heading back to Ham-Wil.
While students were gathering back together, some members of the Board of Trustees passed on their way into Ham-Wil for a dinner reception in the Benes Room.
“I am grateful to Sisters United for their leadership in drawing attention to this important issue and to all on campus who come together to walk in solidarity with victims of rape and sexual assault, and to affirm our collective abhorrence of practices that have the effect of blaming victims,” President Rock Jones said. “Ohio Wesleyan is firmly committed to a culture that is safe for all persons and where people are free to express themselves without the risk of being violated by others. Our Board of Trustees, which is on campus this week, joins me in affirming this fundamental Ohio Wesleyan value.”
Sophomore Teona Council attended the event and said she believes “victim-blaming is one of the worst things a society can do to those who have experienced this tragic event in their life.”
“When I was in high school everyone thought I was a slut,” said junior Abby Hanson. “It was really hurtful. I think being called a slut ever is just not a good thing.”
“This walk doesn’t end now,” Johnson said. “We must continue this in our daily lives.”