Slut shout out in Whitehorse

Dawn Macdonald doesn't have to dress like a slut to get hassled on the street. "The other day I was in a sweater, jeans and running shoes and some guy made kissy noises at me."

Dawn Macdonald doesn’t have to dress like a slut to get hassled on the street.

“The other day I was in a sweater, jeans and running shoes and some guy made kissy noises at me,” said the Slut Walk spokesperson on Tuesday.

“Maybe it was because the sweater was red,” she said with a snort.

Whitehorse is joining more than 60 cities around the world in hosting a Slut Walk this week.

It all started in January, after a cop lecturing at York University in Toronto said, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

The cop later apologized.

But his comments spoke to this underlying attitude of blaming the victim, said Macdonald.

Women deal with sexual harassment on the street level all the time, she said.

“It doesn’t matter what we’re wearing.”

The first Slut Walk was in Toronto, following the outcry over the police officer’s statement.

It saw more than 3,000 people marching in solidarity to reclaim the word “slut.”

Since then there have been Slut Walks in Holland, England, Sweden, Australia and Hong Kong.

“I don’t run in circles where people are using the word slut,” said Slut Walk spokesperson Celia McBride.

“I wasn’t sure if people were even using that word anymore.”

So, during the first meeting with organizers at Baked Cafe in Whitehorse, McBride went up to the barista and said, “What would you call someone who dresses in tight clothes and sleeps with lots of people?”

The answer was “slut.”

Things haven’t changed, said McBride.

“I remember that word and the shame associated with it in high school,” she said.

“It was about making girls feel bad about themselves.

“But that word has no bearing on the essence of who someone is – to brand someone like that is not to look at the whole person.”

The purpose of the Slut Walk is about initiating discussion, said Macdonald.

“How can we, in our wildest dreams, imagine that someone invites criminal behaviour because they look like a slut or are a slut?” she said.

“You could have slept with 1,000 people, but you have every right to say no to the person who comes along wanting to be 1,001 – it doesn’t invite assault.”

The Slut Walk starts at the skate park just across the bridge in Riverdale at 11:30 a.m. on Friday and will be making its way to Shipyards Park for speakers, food and music that will run until 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome and people are invited to join the event at any point.

“Anyone can be a slut or an ally,” said Macdonald. “Sexual assault and harassment happens to all people of all ages, races and genders,” she said.

FH Collins has a class participating in the walk and there is also a SlutWalk Whitehorse Facebook page.

Participants are invited to dress however they want.

“I don’t know if I am going to dress like myself, or like a slut,” said McBride.

“It’s about reclaiming the word and dressing however you want and not being shamed.”

Macdonald figures she might as well just wear her normal clothes.

“I could dress in my sluttiest outfit, or just wear what I usually wear to get hassled on the street – which is regular clothes,” she said.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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