Hundreds of marchers—in outfits ranging from jeans and tees to bondage gear to not much of anything—cheered, chanted and marched from Nathan Phillips Square to Queen’s Park on Friday evening for the second annual SlutWalk. Started last year after a local cop made some ignorant and misogynistic comments to students at York University in January 2011 (specifically, that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”), the march against victim-blaming and slut-shaming has gone global, with SlutWalks taking place in 200 cities around the world, including New Delhi, London, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and across the U.S. In other words, the organizers turned an embarrassing moment for Toronto into a global movement in support of sexual assault victims.
The crowd at this year’s SlutWalk was smaller than last year’s, but the several hundred participants still managed to attract a lot of attention from passersby and rush-hour commuters. (One young guy crossed the street to find out what the crowd—and the topless women—were protesting. “Righteous cause,” he said, once a helpful marcher explained.) Among the many signs on display: “Consent Is Hot,” carried by a male marcher (there were an encouraging number of guys in the throng) and “Skirts don’t rape. People do.” Upon arrival at Queen’s Park, those sign bearers, along with the moms with strollers, sex workers, self-professed “geek girls,” boyfriends, grandmothers and everyone else let out a mighty cheer—signalling that camaraderie and celebration are as much a part of this march as the anger that sparked it in the first place.