The fine details are still being sorted out but this weekend’s SlutWalk will still go on, according to organizers.
“It will be proceeding. We’re still considering our options, our logistic options as to exactly how we intend to proceed and exactly what the route is going to be,” stated self-described feminist activist Kasia Gawlak.
The local planning committee recently found itself struggling with an unexpected municipal expense. The group was originally given the green light.
“We were contacted and told, ‘You should be fine’ but that they would get back to us.”
The 33-year-old St. Albert-raised co-organizer explained that the City of Edmonton’s response came just last week. With only nine days before the event, they were informed that it was likely that road closures and police presence would be required because of the expected turnout. They would have to absorb that cost.
A $2,000 charge was then added to the application. Soon thereafter that amount was bumped up to $5,000 for the original route. An alternative was available at the first price.
“This is a public protest march protected under Freedom of Assembly under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We don’t feel that we should be charged. The city seems to want to approach it more as a special event or a parade.”
Other no-cost choices were also suggested but they were scrapped because of limited visibility and limited access for people with mobility issues.
These administrative frustrations don’t even compare to the feelings these advocates have for the common attitude that victims of sexual assault somehow invite people to attack them because of what they wear or how they behave.
The movement started in January as a reaction to some controversial comments made during a York University law seminar. Toronto Police Const. Michael Sanguinetti was discussing personal security with a small group of students when he reportedly suggested women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to avoid being assaulted.
Even though he apologized for the remark, the public response grew. The first SlutWalk in Toronto at the beginning of April had an estimated attendance of between 1,000 to 2,500 people but the movement soon saw offshoots in dozens of major cities across the world, including Washington, D.C., London, Amsterdam, and Stockholm.
According to the Edmonton SlutWalk’s Facebook page, more than 3,000 people intend on showing up in person to demonstrate their support for the message. That message, according to Gawlak, is that “no individual, regardless of what they wear, where they go, how they behave or who they associate with, is ever to blame for their own sexual assault.”
She calls it unacceptable and intolerable that blaming the victim continues to occur.
The Toronto SlutWalk website further states, “Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s OK to blame the victim.”
It goes on to deliberate on the term ‘slut’ with a predominantly negative connotation primarily directed at women who are sexually promiscuous.
“We’re taking it back. ‘Slut’ is being re-appropriated,” it continues.
The walk is still scheduled to take place at the Alberta Legislature Grounds on Saturday, June 4. There will be speeches at 12:30 p.m. with the walk to Edmonton City Hall taking place at 1 p.m.
For more information, visit www.yegslutwalk.com