Posts Tagged ‘sexual violence’


FLF Co-chairs Carla and Eli, along with members Mary-Ellen and Leila attended this year’s Slutwalk march in downtown Winnipeg. While the crowd was a little smaller this year (as compared to last), the sentiment remained positive and empowering. A commonly held misconception about the Slutwalk movement is that, rather than conveying any particular message, it’s really just an over the top, outrageous display of exhibitionism.

Two years in, we’re happy to report that this is far from the case. Sure, people are welcome to wear anything they’d like (that is part of the idea), but most people don’t attend the event because they want an excuse to whip out their nipple tassels. To the contrary, the focus is far from what people are wearing. Rather, the event centres on making a powerful, united statement against victim blaming in all its forms.

A shorter march this year meant there was more time for speakers, and these were speakers worth listening to. Those who spoke at last year’s Slutwalk set a very high bar, and this year’s speakers met that challenge. Starting with Chandra Mayor (who spoke brilliantly last year as well; you can read her tremendous speech about the word ‘slut’ here), the tone was set for thoughtful reflection, incredibly brave personal story telling and accept-zero-bullshit activism and advocacy. Mayor was followed by several women who told their own stories with grace and grit.

There is something incredibly powerful about both the telling and the hearing of these stories; for those who have been lucky enough not to be touched by sexual assault, it lends a striking air of reality to a devastating issue. For those who have been assaulted, there is hopefully some comfort in knowing they are not alone. Perhaps the lasting contribution that Slutwalk will make will be to provide a safe, public forum for victims of sexual assault to stand up and declare, “This was not my fault,” and for other people to hear it.

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According to the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Police Department is considering a new set of guidelines that would instruct officers to prioritze sex workers’ safety over enforcing prostitution-related prohibitions. The propsed guidelines were written by Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke, and highlight the historic distrust of law enforcement by sex workers, and a need for officers to show them respect. “Sex work involving consenting adults is not an enforcement priority for the [Vancouver Police Department],” state the guidelines.

It’s interesting to note that the guidelines come in the wake of the Pickton Inquiry, which is investigating why the VPD failed to recognize the ongoing abduction and murder of sex workers by Robert Pickton. Evidence before the inquiry has shown the tendency among officers policing Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to not only disregard violent crime against sex workers, but also to personally harass, over-enforce and even to commit assault themselves against sex workers, up to and including the recent past. While the guidelines do seem progressive, considering them in context highlights the fact that they may be more in the realm of damage control than a sincere attempt to protect the phsycial safety and dignityof sex workers. That being said, sex work safety advocates seem to be excited by the prospect of the new guidelines, and it does seem possible that they could lead to positive change.

The guidelines will be considered before the Vancouver Police Board tomorrow, and we look forward to seeing if they are adopted. We’ll keep you posted!

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At our post-slutwalk discussion on Saturday, one of our rad new members, Carla, mentioned the Miss Lonelyhearts column from the previous day’s Winnipeg Free Press. The headline, she said, read “He Didn’t Rape You; You Were Too Lazy to Say No“. No one else had seen it, but we were all pretty horrified by Carla’s description of it. When the rest of us were able to have a look , we were even more disturbed by the tone taken by Miss Lonelyhearts. While the headline itself reads like a slap in the face to anti-victim blaming efforts, Miss Lonleyhearts also provided no crisis counselling information and seemed to have no notion of the actual definition of consent as being not only active but willing. The issue here is not whether this man would be convicted of sexual assault on the facts we have available, but rather that the tone of the response is a perfect example of out-dated and damaging attitudes towards unwanted sex.

Winnipeg Free Press

Here is a link to the column. And, becuase it will likely be archived in the next few days, we’re reproducing the question and response below.


He didn’t rape you; you were too lazy to say no

By: Miss Lonelyhearts

Posted: 10/14/2011 1:00 AM

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I had unwanted sex with a guy because he was begging me, and then afterwards I felt it was not something I really wanted. I felt forced because he broke down my resistance. I just finally gave in after all that begging and took him down the hall to my bedroom to get it over with, so he’d go home. It was a charity thing, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t have done it with him if he hadn’t begged and seemed so pathetic. Is breaking down resistance a form of rape? — Just Wondering, Winnipeg

 Dear Wondering: No. This was certainly not rape and not something you would want to send anyone to jail for. It was your decision. You weren’t forced; you were too lazy to take him to the door and say bye-bye. He may have bugged you until you DECIDED it was easier to say yes than to say no, but he didn’t force you. You also called it a “charity” thing — giving your body to him and taking his — inferring you felt sorry for him. That’s no reason to have sex.


A few members of the FLF have been talking about this, why it seems so wrong, and what to do about it. A letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press is in the works, but we also thought it was important to share it with others. If you have any thoughts, please share them!

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Thanks to everyone who joined us for Slutwalk yesterday! It was a lovely sunny day for a well-attended, organized and thought-provoking event. And our discussion was really great, too! If you weren’t able to make it out yesterday,we’d still love to hear your thoughts . About three hundred Winnipeggers came out and attended the annual Slut Walk in downtown Winnipeg Saturday, October 15, 2011. (John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

The FLF’s very own Meghan Menzies, as well as Robson Hall’s Professor Karen Busby, were both quoted in a feature length article about Slutwalk by Melissa Martin in the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday. Check it out!

Here’s looking forward to lots more fun and interesting FLF events to come. (On that note, don’t forget about Take Back the Night — this Thursday October 20th at MERC!)

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You may recall our earlier post, announcing a discussion of feminism and SlutWalks, put on by U of M’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics on September 30th. Well, if you, like me, were sad to miss it, you’re in luck! The University has created a podcast of the event as a part of their Campus Cast series. Hooray! Give it a listen here. (I also found the musical interludes between speakers quite enjoyable.) 


It provides a really interesting array of perspectives (legal (our own Prof. Busby!), linguistic, philosophical and cultural academics) on the SlutWalk phenomenon, and the reclaiming of ‘slut’.


A special thanks to our number one contributor, Brad Findlater, for alterting us to this!

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Those who attended the first meeting of the FLF this past Monday will recall that the topic of SlutWalk came up, and it seemed there was no conclusive plans to hold one in Winnipeg. While that was only yesterday, news has since emerged that Winnipeg will indeed host a SlutWalk. You can see the Winnipeg Free Press story at the link below. The walk be on October 15th, beginning at the Burton Cummings Theatre.
The FLF is pretty much dying to hear your thoughts on SlutWalk– have you attended one? would you? do you support the anti victim-blaming message while having mixed feeling about use of the word ‘slut’? or do you think that this is an important re-claiming of a formerly derogatory word? Is it fun? Is it effective? Let us know!
The FLF will very likely be attending, and also holding a pre-or-post coffee/food/drinks meeting in order to provide an opportunity to express views and share experiences. Details to come!

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Many thanks to FLF co-chair Dayna for passing along this news item highlighting Nafissatou Diallo’s recent interview with Newsweek. Diallo was on staff at a New York hotel when she accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Khan of sexually assaulting her.

The coverage of this case in the media in recent months has focused substantially on the credibility of Diallo as an accuser, with little attention being paid to the events of the night in question.  As one of her lawyers, Douglas Wigdor, says in the article, “She’s being attacked… and she thought it was important to put a name and face to her account.”


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