Hundreds march in Chicago, LA to dispel sex assault myths

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 04, 2011 8:48 PM

By Eric Johnson

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Hundreds of marchers rallied in Chicago and Los Angeles on Saturday for the "SlutWalk" movement aimed at dispelling the notion that a sexual assault victim's provocative dress could be responsible for an attack.

The message struck close to home for Chicagoan Krystle Szuta, who learned of the march via a Facebook site.

"I was told it was my fault, I was told I was asking for it," Szuta, 26, said of the response she received from being sexually assaulted. "We all know things like that are not someone's fault. No one asks for it."

The movement ignited across the globe after a Toronto police officer told university students in January that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped.

In response, big crowds gathered for a "SlutWalk" in Toronto and soon after, aided by social media networking websites, the movement started drawing provocatively-dressed crowds of supporters to dozens of cities around the world.

"This is about much more than just that one word -- this is about tackling victim-blaming and slut-shaming," according to the website for SlutWalk London, a rally planned for June 11.

Parade-goers -- some who identify as promiscuous, others not -- listened to speeches from authors and poets, stomped their feet to musicians and waved signs, as Bailey Hamilton, 21, did in Chicago on Saturday.

Hamilton, a housekeeper and exotic dancer from Milwaukee, said the movement is also about workers' rights, women's safety, and cultural evolution. She carried a sign that read "Gay, Straight, Black, White -- all unite for women's rights."

"This is our generation's 'bra burning,'" Hamilton said. "When people find out what I do automatically I get a label put on me -- and so do the women I work with who are just trying to support their kids."

(Editing by David Bailey)