SlutWalk Toronto http://www.slutwalktoronto.com BECAUSE WE'VE HAD ENOUGH Fri, 11 Jul 2014 05:00:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.1 #SWTO2014 Sat. July 12 – Speakers announced! http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/swto2014-sat-july-12-speakers-announced http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/swto2014-sat-july-12-speakers-announced#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:21:59 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=503 SlutWalk 2014 starts at 3 pm Saturday June 12,

Nathan Phillips Square.

Event hashtag is #SWTO2014.

 


Speakers:

 

Monica Forrester 

Recently honored at world pride 2014, for her tireless work in the LGBTTQ2IA community. Monica Forrester is a 2-spirit, black, queer, Trans-femme, radical, sexworker, and activist. She is currently the Coordinator at Maggieʼs Toronto – Sexwork Action Project.

Monica rallies for the rights of all sex-workers, marginalized women, and trans* people.

 

Blu Waters

Laureen ( Blu) Waters; Istchii Nikamoon- Earth Song

Cree/Métis / Micmac-Wolf Clan, member of the Metis nation of Ontario

Blu’s family is from Big River Saskatchewan, Star Blanket Reserve

And Braʼdor Lake, Cape Breton Nova Scotia.

Currently working at York University as a elder on campus Providing Traditional teachings and
One on One Counseling.
Blu grew up with her grandmother and learned about traditional medicines performing extractions, healings, and care of the sick and teachings
She was adopted by a white family, at 10, and grew up and lived in Parkdale.
Blu spent many years in High Park, hunting geese, rabbits, ducks, muskrat, harvesting medicine plants and maintaining her connection to Mother Earth.
She has traveled to Nova Scotia to learn from Herbal medicine people and the Queen Charlotte Island in British Columbia where her brother is a Shaman. And medicine man.
She studied landscaping and Horticulture for four years and has studied herbal medicine.
Blu was also the national caucus Representative for the Toronto urban aboriginal strategy for 5 years working with the community of Toronto and the Government
She also is a graduate of DeVry Institute of Technology receiving her business software, micro computer architecture, and A+ Certification.
Bluʼs gifts include,
House cleansing,Giving traditional spirit names,Hand drumming,Song writer
Creative writings. Full moon conductor, Traditional teachings
She has been a traditional counselor for most of life.
She is a mother of 3 and a grandmother, of 3 and a Sun dancer and a pipe carrier

 

Jeff Perera- White Ribbon Campaign 

Jeff is a Community Engagement Manager for White Ribbon, the worldʼs largest movement of men working towards re-imagining masculinity and inspiring men, young men, boys and male- identified people to help end gender-based violence. Heading up the annual What Makes A Man White Ribbon conference and having delivered two TEDx talks, Jeff speaks to people of all walks of life about embracing the impact we make, and difference we can make.

 

Akio Maroon 

Akio Maroon is a Mother, Occupational Health and Safety Consultant, Educator, Nurse, Social Justice Organizer, Advocator and Fundraiser for sex workers rights and HIV/AIDS support services. Akio is the founder of GRIND Toronto – a quarterly event celebrating sex positivity, the joys of safe/r consensual sex, in a LGBTQ2I space for BIPOC* (Black, Indigenous and People of Color)

 

Flo Jo 

Flo is a sex worker and active drug user. She is self described as very sexy, hot, and delicious. Even at 52, she is all that!

*******************Picture ban on this speaker. NO PHOTOS!

 

Kira Andry

A longtime supporter of the SlutWalk movement, and aided in the organization of SlutWalk 2014.

Kira Andry is an agender, queer, mixed, activist and student. As a proud and out non- binary trans* person, they go by gender-neutral pronouns (they/them/their).

They are passionate about body positivity, consent, education, reproductive healthcare/ choice, sex worker rights, BDSM awareness, trans* visibility, and social justice.

They are currently the organizer of HAVEN Toronto, and are heavily involved with many other community initiatives.

Kira aims to shed light on the injustices that currently exist for trans* survivors within the legal system, as well as the lack of basic civil rights.

Their main goal is to unify the community, fight for justice and ultimately help create a more supportive and survivable world for fellow victims.

 

Catherine McCormick- SlutWalk MC

Catherine McCormick is a queer writer, comedian and unrepentant feminist, intent on smashing the patriarchy apart, one pussy joke at a time.  She also hosts and produces the popular podcast Box Social as well as the groundbreaking biweekly LGBTQ+ comedy show Queer As Fuck.

Catherine’s Tumblr: http://mccormcorp.tumblr.com/catherine https://twitter.com/McCormCorp

Find her on Twitter: twitter.com/McCormCorp

 

Heather Jarvis

Heather Jarvis is a queer femactivist. She has been involved in community activism and social justice for the last 10 years and believes that communities know how to take care of each other best. She has worked in social work, in a variety of non-profits, and has experience working with survivors of sexual violence, youth, queer and trans* people, people living with mental health issues, and people living with HIV/AIDS. In 2011 she co-founded SlutWalk Toronto and has been with it ever since. Heather believes in radical compassion and justice from the ground up.

 

Cheri DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale-High Park

In 2012, Cheri DiNovo‘s groundbreaking legislation Toby’s Act forced the government to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to include gender identity and gender expression. Now she is pushing to ensure the law is implemented across the province. She is demanding that the minister of community safety and correctional services bring its policy inline with Toby’s Act. Trans and gender non-conforming people are disproportionately affected by sexual violence in prisons.

 

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March with us July 12! Who are you calling a slut? SlutWalk Toronto 2014 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/slutwalk-toronto-2014-rally-date-announced-july-12 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/slutwalk-toronto-2014-rally-date-announced-july-12#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:00:38 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=496 Join us on Saturday, July 12th at 3pm for the 2014 Toronto SlutWalk. Meet us at Nathan Phillip Square at 3pm. From there we’ll be marching north up University Avenue to Queen’s Park, with speeches  from 4-5pm. We’ll announce the list of speakers closer to the date.

We do not require participants to reclaim slut or any other slurs that have been used against them, nor do we require any particular dress code. We ask only that you come to support an end to victim-blaming and rape apologia.

Regardless of the victim’s ability, age, attire, gender, intoxication, race, or relationship with the abuser, the only person ever responsible for sexual violence is the perpetrator.

If you’d like to volunteer and help out with SWTO 2014, we’d love to have you! Please email: volunteer@slutwalktoronto.com

For media requests, please e-mail media@slutwalktoronto.com.
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ACCESSIBILITY INFO:
Please help us support accessibility and inclusion. We ask that participants refrain from wearing scents or from smoking at the front of the march or near the stage, so that chemically sensitive people can attend. ASL translation support has been confirmed. Active listeners (counsellors) will be available if you get triggered or upset or just need someone to talk to. They’ll be spread throughout the crowd and wearing blue bandanas. Just flag them down and ask to talk.

SlutWalk Toronto 2014 event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/256189414569060/

For more information about SlutWalk, please check us out on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SlutWalkToronto
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SlutWalkTO

 

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International Day Against Victim-Blaming http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/international-day-against-victim-blaming http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/international-day-against-victim-blaming#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 04:02:07 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=493 Thanks to everyone who participated again this year in International Day Against Victim-Blaming on April 3.

Please check back here for more information about upcoming SWTO events and campaigns.

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Hugo Schwyzer and SlutWalk http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/hugo-schwyzer-and-slutwalk http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/hugo-schwyzer-and-slutwalk#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 12:38:06 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=400

The organizing team of SlutWalk Toronto would like to offer a sincere apology for Hugo Schwyzer occupying a position of authority in the organizing team of SlutWalk Los Angeles in 2011.

Hugo Schwyzer has impacted and caused harm to many women, especially women of colour he’s dismissed, degraded and stopped from being recognized, heard and valued (background info here). Women such as Flavia Dzodan (aka @redlightvoices), Sydette Harry (aka @Blackamazon), brownfemipower and many others. We know this harm – that Hugo Schwyzer has now owned – has left and continues to leave wounds. Hugo Schwyzer has also been involved in organizing and advocating SlutWalks, partcularly SlutWalk Los Angeles in 2011. We are sorry for the harm he’s caused and his involvement and connection to SlutWalks and efforts to support survivors of sexual violence.

We first were introduced, online, to Hugo Schwyzer in 2011 shortly after our initial SlutWalk Toronto rally occurred, and when SlutWalks were taking place in various cities around the world. From afar we quickly came to understand he identified as a feminist, he was a Professor at a college in California teaching on gender, sexuality and feminism, and he was passionate about supporting SlutWalk where he was in Los Angeles, California. He played a central role in the first year organizing of SlutWalk L.A. and participated in many conversations around SlutWalk on a lot of various platforms. At the time we supported him, his involvement in our gender inclusive efforts and encouragement of why men needed to care about sexual violence, victim-blaming and slut-shaming, and the whole of the SlutWalk L.A. team of organizers, speakers and volunteers.

After 2011, there were many more conversations about who he is, and what he had done. Like many cities with volunteers organizing SlutWalks, the people making up the SlutWalk L.A. team changed. The SlutWalk Los Angeles team decided to organize specifically without Hugo Schwyzer moving forward in 2012. We supported them in knowing what was going on in their communities more accurately than we ever could, and in making this decision as one that was best for their team and the many survivors they were connected to.

In the last couple of years, we’ve learned a lot more about Hugo Schwyzer and the damaging impact he’s had upon many women, including some of the women he’s had relationships with, and women of colour he’s targeted. Again, we are incredibly sorry that he has been involved in SlutWalks, and that he has used this position to further infuse misogyny and racism into the lives of so many women, including many survivors of sexual violence.

We wish care, support, safety and healing – emotionally, mentally and physically – to the many people who’ve been impacted by Hugo Schwyzer’s actions, including his loved ones and family.

We want to give a shout out of thanks to the voices that have spoken out around the damage caused by Hugo Schwyzer, and to thank those who have spoken out against those who have supported him and offered up more platforms for him to be heard over others. Thank you for calling out the problems, sharing your experiences and working to hold folks, including us, accountable. We want to specifically acknowledge the incredible conversations, knowledge and experiences shared in the recent #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen hashtag trend on twitter, created and instigated by Mikki Kendal (aka @karnythia).

On a final note, we understand allies are not perfect and there are many intersections of oppression, such as mental illness, where we need to shore up resources and support. But oppression in one area does not give us or our allies permission to be oppressive in another. We need to hold our allies and each other accountable. When our peers, even the ones we otherwise respect, screw up we need to call them out on it. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure we take ownership of our issues and problematic actions and inactions. It is up to us to do our own learning and to ensure the media we look to is not exempt from our critical lens. It is up to us to not put the onus on oppressed groups to take their energies away from their battles to hold our hands through our discomfort in realizing how our privilege harms them. It is up to us to do better, and be better, so that we reach the end together and not on the backs of our sisters and brothers.

– The SlutWalk Toronto team

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On recent statements regarding the Julian Assange sexual assault case http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/on-recent-statements-regarding-the-julian-assange-sexual-assault-case http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/on-recent-statements-regarding-the-julian-assange-sexual-assault-case#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 16:43:48 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=386 We believe everyone deserves safety and a right to live without violence. We are not experts in    international criminal law or extradition procedures. However, what anti-sexual violence activists know from the years of work that they have done is that victims of sexual violence often do not report, often face consequences when they do, and that systemically the vast majority of perpetrators of violence are never convicted for their crimes.

We recently learned of statements made by SlutWalk London (UK) in support of the organization Women Against Raperegarding the ongoing case against WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange for sexual assault. We have concerns about these statements and even as we do, we want to recognize that the work these two organizations have done has been instrumental in supporting hundreds of survivors and fighting back against sexual violence. We are thankful for their voices and their efforts in doing so much for so many.
Statements from Women Against Rape can be seen here.
Statements from SlutWalk London can be seen here.
We also believe people must be held accountable. Julian Assange has been accused of rape and no matter who he is and what importance people feel he has had in stopping other atrocities, he must be accountable to the warrant for his arrest on this basis. That he is being pursued with a zeal that is unfortunately not given to most sexual assault cases that may be politically motivated, does not in any way alter the severity of what he is being pursued for. We recognize that often justice and institutional systems are not a safe or worthwhile mode of recourse for many survivors, but with a legal course of action being the path the survivors accusing Assange have chosen to take, he must be accountable to this.

No matter who Assange is, his political involvement and status should never be used to discredit or cast doubt upon his victims or protect him from being accountable. Suggesting otherwise goes against what we believe SlutWalk is. We recognize many survivors have expressed pain, anger and hurt at recent statements from SlutWalk London regarding this case and we welcome further dialogue on this issue.

*UPDATE:

On Sun. Sept. 30th 2012, SlutWalk London released this public statement where one of their organizers took responsibility for the Assange comments:

The recent views expressed regarding the extradition of Julian Assange were my own rather than those of SlutWalk London. I apologise for using this platform to express these views and hope they do not deter from the purpose of SlutWalk, which is to send the message that there is never any excuse for rape and to demand protection and justice for all rape survivors. – Anastasia Richardson

 

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SWTO speech from the 2012 National Sexual Assault Conference in Chicago (#NSAC2012) http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/slutwalk-toronto-speech-from-the-2012-national-sexual-assault-conference-in-chicago-nsac2012 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/slutwalk-toronto-speech-from-the-2012-national-sexual-assault-conference-in-chicago-nsac2012#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2012 18:50:22 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=381  

 

HEATHER:

Good morning! To start, we want to say a big thank you to the organizers of the 2012 National Sexual Assault Conference, the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, for having us here today. We’re honoured to be a part of such an amazing conference and such an incredible gathering of people. A number of the people in this room are people we have read, people we have learned from, and inevitably people that have impacted and influenced our lives, in ways we are aware of and in the contributions you all have made in your work.

We’re profoundly moved to have been a part of all of the amazing action and resistance we’ve witnessed in our own Canadian cities and observed from afar in what is still less than two years with SlutWalk.

We’ve often referred to SlutWalk as ‘the little rally that could’. This was something said to me by a friend right before our first rally in Toronto in 2011. We had quickly seen a small action grow into something bigger, much bigger than we were prepared for. As the date for our event drew nearer, we began to anticipate thousands of people at this emerging idea of a rally. By the time that day came, nearly a dozen other cities in Canada and in other countries were already planning SlutWalk events of their own. It was truly unbelievable to see what was happening.

The sentiment of ‘the little rally that could’ has stuck with us and still illustrates the shock, awe and wonder we continue to feel all the time that something that started as a very small, reactive response to a comment and the deep-rooted harmful ideas it represents, caught on nearly instantaneously and spread internationally at what felt like warp speed.

As many of you likely know, on January 24, 2011, a Toronto Police officer told a group of students at York University during a safety forum “I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this, but women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

A few weeks later, upon hearing about this incident I was livid but sadly not overly surprised. This was not a new sentiment and not the first time it was coming from the police. I remember sharing my anger and saying that I wanted to bang on the door of the Toronto Police and tell them to do better. My friend, Sonya JF Barnett, said it was a good idea and we should do it. So we did. We were filled with anger and knew an apology was not enough. We had had enough and wanted to do something. We decided this ‘something’ would be marching right on down to Toronto Police Services’ headquarters and demanding better from an institution that is supposed to support victims, not scrutinize them.

SlutWalk was the combining of who we are with what we needed. Sonya and I, and many of the people we loved and lived with in our communities, were already people deemed immoral based on our identities and sexualities, we were already people who re-appropriated language like queer, slut, dyke, and bitch, we already existed in feminist, gutsy, and brazen spaces fighting for more. When we heard that Toronto police officer’s comment, we were filled with anger and it was that anger that got us into this action.Very quickly, we decided to call our ‘something’ SlutWalk. Words like slut had been thrown at us far too often and we wanted to throw them back. We wanted the language used to shame us, degrade us, silence us and blame us – and used once again by this cop – to be a central part of the discussion and to be actively challenged. A Facebook page, a Twitter account and a website were set up – all easy and accessible ways for us to share information. We asked people to come as they were comfortable and participate in ways that worked for them. A prep day, volunteer recruitment, online advocacy, a barrage of unexpected media interviews, a slew of hateful criticisms and threatening comments, growing thicker skin rather quickly, and a mere 6 weeks later, what we thought would be maybe 100 hundred friends and acquaintance if we were lucky, turned into 4,000 people gathering in Toronto on April 3rd, 2011 – enough to close down major intersections in downtown Toronto, garner coverage in just about every media outlet in Toronto and many across Canada, trend on social media networks, and make a lot of people sit up and take notice.

COLLEEN:

I went to the first SlutWalk in Toronto as an attendee. The fundamental message of SlutWalk was something I felt (clearly, like many, many others) was really absent from mainstream and casual coverage and conversations about sexual violence-almost all of which seemed to be framed around quantifying the degree to which a victim was to blame and why…as though all the rape myths and everything women have been told through centuries of continuous sexual violence somehow ever had the answers.

SlutWalk unfortunately had a built-in audience, and it just so happened that in 2011 in North America, a few public incidences, like Judge DeWar in Manitoba, who called a convicted rapist ‘nothing but a clumsy Don Juan’, or the 11 year old girl who was gang-raped in Texas and the subject of coverage that judged her for ‘wearing makeup and acting older than her age’, the public sexual assault of journalist Lara Logan and her subsequent revictimization in the media, efforts to re-define rape in the United States to exclude certain survivors from recognition or services, and of course Toronto Police Officer Michael Sanguinetti-exemplified the reasons for this building frustration around victim-blaming and sexual violence, and conditioned the environment for widespread action. SlutWalk just lit the spark – or as one person said, held up a mirror, to what was already happening.

I didn’t know what to expect that day, on April 3rd 2011, it’s fair to say that nobody really did. But what I walked into was a community of people who took over and shut down the streets of Toronto, and in an unmistakably vocal, fierce and proud way, were able to challenge being shamed as survivors, to demand better from society, from our communities and institutions, to turn anger into action, and to-even if temporarily-relinquish the frustration, trauma and silencing of victim-blaming in a supportive space. The emotional charge and the catharsis was almost palpable, and truly something I will never forget.

I joined the team as an organizer soon after, to do what I could to continue these actions, however imperfect they may have been, and may continue to be as we learn and evolve.

As someone pointed out on our Facebook page once, victim-blaming validates the actions of perpetrators of violence because of the inherent assumption that anyone is deserving of sexual violence. It still floors me when people start sentences by saying something to the effect of ‘we can all agree that rape is wrong…BUT’ and follow this with conditions that explain why any rape, which truly becomes every rape, is ‘the exception’. There are no ‘illegitimate’ rapes and rape is ALWAYS forcible.

We must always listen to the voices and truths of survivors and their experiences.

We don’t know the exact number of SlutWalks that have happened the world over, but we do know that SlutWalks have happened in over 200 cities around the world, across six continents, and more are always being planned. The events are locally organized by volunteers in every city they occur. Events and efforts have been in Toronto, Buenos Aires, Kolkutta, Sydney, London, Johannesburg, Seattle, Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Sao Paulo, Yellowknife, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Mexico City, Berlin, Morocco, Houston, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Bogota, Bucharest, Chicago and many many other cities.

Some of these have been SlutWalks, some have happened in different names and ways that have worked for those localities, but all have taken a public stand as part of internationally collective action against victim-blaming.

In the last 18 months, we’ve had many people in Canada and elsewhere tell us online and in person that participating in SlutWalk and the presence of a fresh public dialogue about victim-blaming and rape culture provided a point of entry for them to join these conversations, or helped them to move past internalized blame, or to repair relationships with people in their lives who didn’t understand sexual violence and what it really is. We’ve had youth in high school, sex workers, and others tell us that before SlutWalk, it never occurred to them that being raped wasn’t their fault; or that SlutWalk was the first time they were able to believe it. We’ve been told that SlutWalk has brought sexual violence more into casual conversation – present in living rooms and at dinner tables, getting though some of the silence and stigma. People have related that knowing we exist has made them feel supported to speak out in their own lives and in the spaces they live in. For us, this is one of the most rewarding elements, and a big part of what keeps us going.

SlutWalk Toronto has never been resource-heavy. This was an action spread and shared, in person and online, by people who could relate. People who understood, if maybe not terms like ‘patriarchy’, ‘misogyny’,‘anti-oppression’, or even how they may have identified with or related to the complexity of feminism; What sexual violence feels like. What it feels like to be asked to take responsibility for something that is not your choice, and BY DEFINITION against your will. What it feels like to be shamed for your sexuality and treated as though you are deserving of less than full respect all the time for reasons that other people unfairly make about you, your actions or your identities. What it feels like to be immersed in social messages that reinforce this and devalue your gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, and so on.

Simple messages make it possible for people who haven’t had these conversations to start to, for people who haven’t paid attention to these issues to begin to. Approximately 1 in 4 women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime, and 1 in 6 boys. We know these figures are underreported and that isn’t news to anyone here. People shouldn’t need University degrees to be free to share their stories and talk about their experiences with sexual violence.When we talk about feminism, sometimes educational and academic privilege plays a part in these conversations and who gets to have and understand them. The less of a ‘bar for entry’ we have, the more potential there is to further these connections, conversations and communities of support, and the stronger we are to continue to find ways to work together in organizing and addressing oppression.

In addition to connecting with survivors and activists internationally, another advantage of our ‘headquarters’ being online has been participating in some of the incredible actions that have happened recently. In the last year all of us online in these anti-violence and feminist spheres have seen plenty of important, long overdue conversations happen in online spaces.

Like the #Ididnotreport hashtag – where hundreds of thousands of people the world over confirmed unreported sexual violence and the many reasons why they did not report. And the people who tagged their replies to these survivors with a #webelieve you hashtag, validating what many said was the first time they disclosed, and generating a massive outpouring of support.

There was the recent incident with comedian Daniel Tosh ‘jokingly’ threatening an audience member with gang rape, that catalyzed the digital sphere into a flurry of exchanges and thorough, insightful pieces of writing that furthered the social consciousness of understanding that (guess what?!) rape is NOT funny – and that the concept of ‘free speech’ does not immunize anyone from committing hate speech with real consequences for others.

There was the uproar against Komen defunding Planned Parenthood, the numerous advertisers who dropped Rush Limbaugh’s show after he called Sandra Fluke a ‘slut’ and a prostitute on the air after the widespread public response, groups like Unite Against The War on Women and the many campaigns against sexism and violence that are sparking conversation as well as making measurable gains and changes that are powerful tools in convincing people that caring and speaking up CAN and DOES make a difference.

Let’s not forget the emergence of Project Unbreakable, a powerful photo Tumblr of survivors holding up signs of what their assailants said to them while sexually assaulting them, and the Who Needs Feminism project, with photos of people telling us why they need feminism. One of my favourites is: ‘I need feminism because I’m sick of people telling me that I’m overreacting to the normalization of sexual violence.’

Recently, there has been a coalescing of pieces and conversations about online harassment and what it means to be out as a feminist, or even just a woman, online. Following gaming researcher Anita Sarkeesian’s experience with many death and rape threats after she dared to investigate gender stereotypes in gaming, major publications, websites and online platforms have begun to take online sexual harassment and threats seriously. FINALLY.

The rape apologism, sexism and rape jokes comments that have been spread virally over the internet to mass outrage recently are far from the first of their kind. The difference now is that we have more resources to challenge people publicly, directly and hold them accountable-with the fantastic peripheral result that the rest of the world is learning and listening.

At SlutWalk Toronto, we aspire to continue participating in action, in resistance, in conversations, that erode rape culture, that bring everyone around to understanding a common baseline that there is no ‘grey rape’, and no place for victim-blaming, if’s, and’s or ’but’s or words like ‘illegitimate’ or ‘legitimate’ when we are talking about violence and victimization. That there is no room for opinions in conversations about rape. These are our basic human rights.

And while we talk about the things that all too simple and common, such as that no one is safe from survivorship and violence, that everyone knows and cares about someone who has been sexually assaulted, that rapists and nobody but rapists are responsible for rape—we also commit to continuing our activism in the spirit of openness, with the understanding, in the words of Anais Nin, that “we do not see things as they are, we see things as we are”- the willingness to admit our own ignorance, to acknowledge privilege in a non-finite way, and to learn and connect in solidarity to address the many different ways and compounding social factors that affect how individuals and groups of people experience sexual violence.

HEATHER:

SlutWalks have received a lot of support and a lot of criticism in the last year. And we are thankful for both. We are thankful to the people who have taken time, challenged us and engaged in dialogues with all of the different people carrying these messages. Thank you to Black Women’s Blueprint, the Brooklyn based organization that wrote an Open Letter From Black Women to SlutWalk, outlining their support for our passion and concerns around the ways many women of colour can be left out of this fight and these conversations. Thank you to the varied feminist voices that have questioned us and challenged us. Through these criticisms we have been able to do some necessary reflection, be accountable when we have very sadly alienated and excluded certain communities, and grow into something with stronger roots, wiser voices and hopefully, a lengthened future. We are also thankful for the criticisms SlutWalks have faced, as at times they have strengthened our resolve and a voice to our survivor experiences, even when we stand in disagreement with others.

Within Toronto, we’ve been involved in ongoing efforts to build bridges in our community, to connect with activists, organizers and organizations to broaden dialogue, strengthen the base from which we organize, and continue to learn how to do better. These learning curves have been some of the most rewarding parts of being involved in organizing for our team.

We have also been thankful to have been invited to other rallies, to schools, to universities, to conferences and to have exchanges in different spaces towards greater understanding about how SlutWalk has been taken up elsewhere, what issues are being fought in other cities, how actions are being challenged and changed, as well as other approaches to addressing and resisting sexual violence and victim-blaming. We’re continually inspired by the conversations and actions we see happening in other cities.

Different words are used in different countries, in different languages: from slut to puta, from salope to vadia, from rundi to slampa, from slapper to sharmuta, from schlampe to slet. More than different words, different issues have been rooted in SlutWalk efforts in different political climates like femicide in Mexico, breastfeeding stigmas, machismo and development conferences in Brazil, corrective rape of lesbians in South Africa, dowry traditions and widespread eve teasing on public transit in Delhi and Mumbai, re-defining rape, censorship of language, restrictions to reproductive health care and the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case in the US, legislative officials trying to outlaw miniskirts in Indonesia, sports events taking priority over anti-sexual violence events in Scotland, the Minister of Justice suggesting some rapes are “less serious” in England, the suicide of a young girl forced by traditional law to marry her rapist in Morocco, homophobia and stigma towards LGBTQ survivors in Honduras, street harassment, slut-shaming and institutional silencing in Israel, judges and police blaming victims and the government not investigating hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. SlutWalks have somehow been able to hold on to the simple message against victim-blaming and slut-shaming, but embrace the complexity of violence in people’s lives.

The photos you’ve seen playing behind us are photos captured at SlutWalk events around the world. These photos, along with the many stories they often come with, have fed our souls. Unlike the common mainstream media depictions of SlutWalks as women-only spaces where attendees wear only bras, fishnets, nipple tassels and write ‘slut’ across their bodies, SlutWalks have involved people of all ages, gender expressions, have included families, different outfits and aesthetics, and have brought many people together.

As a friend and incredible activist named Kim Crosby says, “Hurt people hurt people.” We all have complex individual lives and bodies with layered and different identities and experiences. We exist in bodies that simultaneously face privilege and oppression. We make mistakes and we learn and grow, but we all have a responsibility to consider how we can make this world a place that we all want to live in and a place where we are all entitled to live a life filled with respect and safety. We must build communities of care. Communities that support each other, that fight for each other, that speak out when others cannot, that stay silent when we must listen, that stand with each other, and that really care about each other. And this takes work.

We must care about people who look differently and live differently than ourselves. [Heather]

We must care about survivors if we have never experienced sexual violence. [Colleen]

We must care about racism when we experience white or light skinned privilege. [Heather]

We must care about queer people when we are straight. [Colleen]

We must care about transgender, intersex and two-spirited people when our own sex and gender align with what’s expected of us. [Heather]

We must care about migrants, refugees and undocumented workers when we have citizenship within our nation. [Colleen]

We must care about people with disabilities when our own bodies are able. [Heather]

We must care about classism when we do not live in poverty or have more financial privilege. [Colleen]

We must care about sex workers when we have never worked in the sex industry. [Heather]

We must care about indigenous peoples and indigenous solidarity when we are settlers and do not fully understand the colonial history of our nations. [Colleen]

We must care about people living with HIV/AIDS when live without these illnesses. [Heather]

We must care about people who are young and people who are old. [Colleen]

We have to care about people of all genders, as we can all be survivors. [Heather]

We must care about people who experience and understand police and justice systems as places of violence and discrimination, and who avoid them and even fight them, even when * we access the police for support. [Colleen]

We must care about people who experience liberation through showing their bodies when we cover ours, and we must care about people who experience their freedom and identity through covering their bodies when we expose more of ours. [Heather]

We must care about and recognize people who cannot claim words like “slut”, when violence, discrimination and oppression make this a privilege they cannot access. [Colleen]

We must care about people who are sexually assaulted when they were drinking, wearing a short skirt, who looked older, who flirted, who said yes before, who have had more sex, who let someone into their home, who couldn’t say no and who happened to be in any position where they are seen as at fault. [Heather]

HEATHER:

It can at times seem overwhelming to think of so many people and so many issues but it can be thought of simply in caring for those who’s struggles are different than ours. We must care about people, be willing to listen and hear the differences of our lives because these things are all interconnected and sexual violence stops at none of them. We must care about one another with intent and action. We need to build communities that will allow people to love and have sex how they want to, with consent, with education, with who they want to. SlutWalk follows in the fierce footsteps of those who have fought the people with power – because there are actual people with far more power who uphold and perpetuate systems that keep us down, that put us at risk, that tell us what we can and cannot do with our own bodies, that blame us no matter what we do with our bodies, that give us so little that we fight each other, and there are people that work within systems responsible for these messes – we fight these people and institutions of power that hurt us and hurt others. We do this because it does not get better unless we make it better. These are all the things we’ve learned and the things we are committed to doing to reclaim our bodies, to reclaim our streets and to keep fighting for our safety.

SlutWalk does not have one voice. It has many. Survivors do not have one voice, we have many. And we need many voices to fight this battle. We are not a monolith, we are fiercely and fantastically different. SlutWalk is what people make of it and we are trying to make it a collection of efforts, voices, connections, lessons and experiences. You are here today and we are here today fighting and standing with each other – in pain, in anger, in trust, in belief and in solidarity. The people here, the people who we’ve learned from, the people who inspire us, the people who are not yet known to us are all a part of the revolution that is long overdue.

We are here fighting back. Demanding better. Supporting each other. And saying hell no to the status quo. This is an incredible action in and of itself and should be recognized as it’s own form of survival and resistance. People of all genders face life scarring sexual violence, rape, harassment and exploitation at staggering numbers everyday. This is not just social justice work but a matter of life and death. We are here today fighting for our bodies, fighting for respect and fighting to live without expectations of violence. Thank you.

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Signal Boost: Letter Writing Campaign http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/signal-boost-letter-writing-campaign http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/signal-boost-letter-writing-campaign#comments Fri, 25 May 2012 04:33:48 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=376 Hi everyone,


In light of our upcoming march and rally tomorrow afternoon, we’d like to ask you to support us in lending your signatures for a letter-writing campaign sending letters of support to the survivor of a landmark Canadian sexual assault case that the Supreme Court of Canada will be making a decision on come Friday June 1st.


The case involves a niqab-wearing (a veil which covers the face with the exception of the eyes) Muslim woman who was ordered by the lower courts to remove her niqab to testify against two family members charged with sexually abusing her as a child. Currently, the survivor is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm her right to wear the niqab in Court. Here is a detailed backgrounder by LEAF, the Legal Education Fund for Women Organization on this case, do read this media advisory


Basically, a survivor of a decades long sexual assault has been ORDERED by the Canadian courts to remove her cultural clothing to TESTIFY in her own sexual assault case because her perpetrator told the courts that, HE had a RIGHT to see her in her ‘full demeanour’ as she testified against him. She refused and took her case to the Supreme Court this past December.


As the courts have sided with the perpetrator up till this point, we wonder how much the anxieties and queasiness that the Canadian legal system holds towards the bodies of muslim women, who face heightened symbolic, cultural and physical violence as a result of the interlocking oppressions of race, gender, religion and ethno-cultural identities in their lives, have been a factor in the atrocious lower court rulings in this case thus far. We believe one of the reasons for the failure of the courts in this case is due to a lack of understanding about issues related to the niqab and other forms of Islamic women’s cultural attire in this context especially the assumption that the niqab is always a form of oppression.This assumption can also be seen in many streams of feminism.


SlutWalk Toronto is not only disgusted at this horrendous failure of the Canadian justice system in dealing yet another sexual assault case, but are also appalled at how the lower courts decided to ASK THE SURVIVOR to take on the demeaning labour of making herself ‘presentable’ in court to her perpetrator.


We feel like by asking her to take on such a labour, the courts are implying that SHE IS TO BLAME for her sexual assaults, rather than holding her accused perpetrator accountable. Similarly, we feel as though this sends a dangerous message to muslim women who encounter sexual assault by implying that their bodies are more rapeable. Because rape and sexual assault are already under-reported in Toronto’s muslim communities, it seems like the courts siding with the survivor’s perpetrators is telling all muslim women that they should not report their sexual assaults as the legal system will not care to protect their rights.


With this letter-writing campaign, we would like you to send your words of support and kindness to the survivor, N.S through her lawyer David B. Butt whose contact information will be posted in the comment blurb below. We feel like what’s happened to the survivor in the courts is yet another assault on her physical, emotional, mental safety. While the sample letter of support we have provided is just one way you will be able to send your solidarity to the survivor, you are welcome to personalize the letter as per your writing style.


We believe the justice system should never pursue actions that inherently place the rights of perpetrators above the rights of survivors, forcing survivors to be accountable to their perpetrators.
Please sign and forward the attached letter to as many of your friends, family, colleagues, allies and networks as possible!


-The SlutWalk Toronto Team

 

Below is the sample letter of support that our team has drafted, feel free to personalize this template as you wish!

 

Dear N.S,


I am writing this letter to you in support of the advocacy initiated by the SlutWalk Toronto team and other committed groups on the N.S.v. R. case. I want to extend my solidarity and support to you during this sensitive time in this difficult case.

I also want to let you to know that I think you are very brave for taking up and enduring through the tough and trying legal proceedings that have not yet been supportive to you and your mental, emotional and physical safety.I want to let you know that you trying to hold your perpetrators accountable shows immeasurable strength and a fighting spirit. You are courageous for demanding your space and your voice.

I support your fight for survivors such as yourself to be respected no matter who they are and what they wear in our justice system.

Respectfully,

______________________________

 

And finally, below also is the contact information of N.S’s lawyer, David B. Butt who you may send your letters of support to!

 

DAVID  B. BUTT

501 – 205 RichmondStreet W.

Toronto,Ontario

M2N 7E9

Tel:   (416) 361-9609      

Fax:   (416) 361-9443

Email: dbutt@barristersatlaw.ca

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Special Guest Maxine the G2 Net mobile concert stage to lead #SWTO2012 ! http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/special-guest-maxine-the-g2-net-mobile-concert-stage-to-lead-swto2012 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/special-guest-maxine-the-g2-net-mobile-concert-stage-to-lead-swto2012#comments Fri, 25 May 2012 03:33:36 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=370 We are so excited to have the G2 Net Mobile concert stage leading SlutWalk Toronto 2012 tomorrow!

From Andre Milne:

The G2 Net mobile concert stage is honored to be leading SlutWalk Toronto 2012.

G2 Net was created in 1995 by Andre Milne to promote international human rights-driven movements using a roots-level expansion of a fusion of live music and visual arts.

Milne rescued the Mack truck (as she was known before being reincarnated as Maxine) from being scrapped in 2006, and with an army of volunteers and supporters have kept her alive and kicking her heels as Maxine ever since.

SWTO is the first protest event in Maxine’s history and she is thrilled to be participating in an international movement to fight sexual violence.

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Crystal Melin of the Native Women’s Resource Centre to join speakers at SlutWalk Toronto 2012! http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/crystal-melin-of-the-native-womens-resource-centre-to-join-speakers-at-slutwalk-toronto-2012 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/crystal-melin-of-the-native-womens-resource-centre-to-join-speakers-at-slutwalk-toronto-2012#comments Wed, 23 May 2012 03:08:21 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=367 Crystal Melin

Crystal is a mixed-race woman who embraces her Metis, Mohawk, Oneida, French Canadian, and Scandinavian heritages.  She is extremely grateful to hold the position of Executive Director for Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto and sits on eight local Aboriginal committees.  Crystal holds a Masters degree in Community Development and Adult Education from the University of Toronto.  Through her thesis work she has built a model representing Indigenous knowledges and explores relationship building between non-Aboriginal institutions and Aboriginal communities.

 

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Morgan M Page, Michele Chai and mother, daughter Deborah and Jules confirmed as speakers for SWTO 2012! http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/morgan-m-page-michele-chai-and-mother-and-daughter-deborah-and-jules-confirmed-as-speakers-for-swto-2012 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/morgan-m-page-michele-chai-and-mother-and-daughter-deborah-and-jules-confirmed-as-speakers-for-swto-2012#comments Tue, 15 May 2012 17:07:19 +0000 http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/?p=356 Our Friday May 25th rally is less than two weeks away. We’re excited to announce Morgan M Page, Michele Chai and mother and daughter Deborah and Jules as more incredible speakers for #SWTO2012 .

Morgan M Page

Morgan M Page (Odofemi) is a twenty-something writer, performance +
video artist, award-winning activist, and Santera currently living in
Toronto. She works in the social services, coordinating programs for
trans youth, trans adults, and trans sex workers in downtown Toronto.
In 2011, she was the recipient of the Youthline’s Outstanding
Contribution to Community Empowerment Award at the Community Youth
Awards for her work creating T-GUAVA (Trans Girls and Guys United
Against Violent Assault), Canada’s first program to address intimate
partner abuse among trans youth. She has worked locally, nationally,
and internationally on a variety of projects related to trans people,
HIV, and sex work.

Morgan is perhaps best known for her acclaimed and debated writings on
trans politics and feminism for PrettyQueer.com. In 2012, Morgan was
one of the central organizers of No More Apologies: Queer Trans and
Cis Women Coming/Cumming Together, a conference that brought together
queer trans and cis women to discuss the sexual exclusion of trans
women from Toronto’s broader queer women’s communities. Along with
Drew DeVeaux, Morgan delivered a keynote speech at this event which
has since spawned several sister events in Canada and the United
States, with more currently in the works in other countries. Morgan
also gave a keynote speech at the first of these sister events, No
More Apologies/Pas Plus d’Excuses Ottawa, in April 2012.

Beyond her activist efforts, Morgan has just created her first short
film, titled “IYA MI KU YEO/death ate my mother,” through Inside Out
festival’s Queer Video Mentorship Project. “IYA MI KU YEO/death ate my
mother” will premiere at Inside Out festival on May 26th, 2012. Her
provocative avant garde performance art has appeared in theatres,
cabarets, and in art spaces in Toronto and Montreal. She has also
begun programming arts events, including The 519’s Trans Theatre Under
the Stars (2011), and is at work on curating TWAT/fest, a four-day
arts festival in Toronto centred on trans woman-identifed artists. Her
website is odofemi.com.

Michele Chai

Michele Chai has been a community health promoter with Planned Parenthood Toronto since 2003. Michele facilitates workshops in schools and community settings on a variety of sexual and reproductive health topics including healthy sexualities, building healthier relationships and masculinities and health. In 2004 Michele spearheaded the work on young men’s health and is currently coordinating PPT’s young men’s health program.

Jules Kirouac, and mother Deborah

Jules Kirouac [pictured above] is a 17 year old high school student and an advocate for young girls and guys who have been sexually harassed and/or emotionally and physically abused by their peers. She speaks publicly about the dangers of cyber bullying, slut shaming and sexting. By telling her story, she hopes to inspire other girls and guys to stand up and take action against youth violence. She has the full support of her mother, Deborah, who Jules says has been her greatest strength. Deborah has been active in martial arts for over 25 years and is passionate about bringing awareness to domestic and youth violence.

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