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“SlutWalk” targets rape perceptions
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The organizers of SlutWalk Denver hoped the event’s attention-grabbing name did just that — make people pay attention to sexual-assault issues. More than 400 people attended the event in Civic Center park Saturday afternoon. The first SlutWalk was held in Canada after a representative from the Toronto Police Department said “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The event started as a way to end blaming and shaming of rape victims. Dozens of SlutWalks have taken place globally, and more are in the planning stages. Some at Civic Center dressed in risque attire, but most just came to voice their support for changing social perceptions of rape victims. “Rape can Extras View slide show of the SlutWalk in Denver on July 2, 2011. happen to anyone, and we need to stop blaming the victim,” event attendee Lauren Cikara said. The way people talk about rape victims also needs to change, she said. ” ‘Victim’ has such a negative connotation. People are survivors.” Sitting next to Cikara was Rich Stice, who was holding a sign saying, “I was wearing khaki shorts.” Stice said he firmly believes a person’s clothing has nothing to do with why they are raped. His sign was crafted from personal experience. Attendees said they found out about the event online. The SlutWalk idea has spread through social-media sites like Facebook and Tumblr. Almost 4,000 people signed up for the Denver event online. When Felicia Sheumaker, Emerald Green and Bethany Feret heard about the Toronto SlutWalk on Facebook, they asked themselves when there would be one in Denver. “I said, ‘It’s going to happen when we make it happen,’ ” Sheumaker said. The eyebrow-raising name combined with the visual element of a walk is a platform Sheumaker hopes will spawn other movements to raise awareness. “Anyone can be sexually assaulted. It’s not just women,” Sheumaker said. Men and women of all ages made the walk around the park carrying signs that were more controversial than their clothing, like, “Rape predates the miniskirt,” and “I love sluts, but I don’t rape them.” Robb Meadows sat on the steps of the Greek Theatre with a sign, “This is me not raping the hot girl (see how easy it is.)” Women stopped to hug him as they passed. “Call me silly, but if a woman says no at any point, that’s it,” he said. Stephanie Freeman brought her two preteen daughters to the SlutWalk. She said the girls told her they were uncomfortable and wanted to leave. Freeman said she wants to arm them with as many tools as she can to help them fight back against hostility to women as they grow up. “I don’t want it to be a lecture, but unfortunately, it’s part of the world,” she said. Groups like The Rape Assistance and Awareness Program, Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice set up tables and handed out information to anyone interested. “If even one person walks away saying, ‘It wasn’t my fault,’ I’ll be happy,” Green said.

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Denver “SlutWalk” targets rape perceptions

  
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