Protest Report: Slutwalk Dunedin

By Jessica Ward

The first of September was a cold day in Dunedin.  I got dressed in the sluttiest clothes I felt comfortable in; a short red velvet dress with a pair of black woolen tights and a splash of red lipstick. As I walked through the central city towards the dental school where the rally was to begin I saw no signs of fellow “sluts” along the way.  The town seemed almost dead with only a few couples littering the sidewalks.  Arriving at the designated meeting point outside the Dental School I was disheartened to see only a few people, mostly girls wearing fur coats which I imagine were keeping their body temperatures above freezing before the walk began.  But slowly the crowd began to grow.  Signs, badges and lists of chants were handed out. The signs, placards and patches had kindly been hand-painted by the organising committee and distributed to anyone committed to adorning themselves with pro slut propaganda.

 

The crowd waited in anticipation for about half an hour for our marching route to be closed off to traffic.  The crowd grew restless.  We were ready to march for our cause.  The chanting began “slut, skank, slag or ho, whatever you call me, no means no!” Men and women, of all ages chanted together for a nation that does not blame victims and holds perpetrators responsible for their actions.  We walked down Fredderick St and up George St to the Octagon.  Yelling “whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no,” we paraded the streets with pride as women wearing what we chose without fear of judgment.  Some men dressed in drag to support the cause and others simply walked alongside the girls in bikinis and mini skirts.

 

The “Slut After-Party” was held at the historic Pioneer Women’s Hall on Moray Place.  The entrance was marked with a plethora of signs and placards from the walk leaning up against the wall on either side of the glass doors.  The hall had been decorated with coloured fairy-lights and bunting.  After paying a gold coin donation guests were invited to partake in zine making and eating of home baked vegan treats.  Aptly Opposite Sex provided ambient music followed by Strange Harvest who also played to celebrate the second successful Dunedin Slutwalk.

 

The Slutwalk began in 2011 as a reaction to a red necked police officer in Toronto who informed a group of girls that they should dress less “slutty” if they wanted to avoid being raped.  The Slutwalk raises awareness about rape and sexual abuse and the myths surrounding these issues.  Our patriarchal society places the blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator.  As a society we need to stop men raping, not stop women from being raped.  The speakers at the rally addressed this point also noting the importance of the significant amount of males in the audience who are as much of a part of this movement as women.

 

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