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Do SlutWalks make us think differently about sluts or sexual assault?

by AirTalk

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Demonstrators march on a Slutwalk on June 4, 2011: first ever slut walk made in a bid to raise awareness about commonly-held attitudes towards rape and sexual assault. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

In April, when women in Toronto took exception to a police officer who said, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized" the SlutWalk was born. Women descended into the streets marching in attire sometimes described as “slutty” and protested cultural attitudes linking violence against women with the way they dress. The SlutWalk caught on and women in cities throughout Canada, the US, India, and Europe are organizing marches to reclaim a loaded word like “slut,” pairing a strong message against sexual violence and societal attitudes with provocative clothing. In early June, West Hollywood was home to L.A.’s first SlutWalk. The event focused on putting a stop to “victim-blaming in situations of sexual violence.” But these gatherings have provoked mixed feelings from feminists and others. For some, the very attempt to redefine the word slut is useless and unrealistic. They say that it’s wrong headed to conflate linguistic definitions with a very potent message about violence against women. What does the SlutWalk movement mean to you? Do you think these marches are a smart way to highlight the movement’s message? Does dressing “slutty” make women more prone to assault and if so, what should be done about that?

Guest:

Lindsey Horvath, President Emeritus of Hollywood NOW (National Organization for Women), Equality Advocate, Community Organizer, Former Councilmember, City of West Hollywood

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