This past Saturday, pop culture figure and model Amber Rose led the largest SlutWalk yet, a march and rally against slut-shaming and violence against women that began in 2011 after a Toronto police officer said that women should “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” A police officer, you guys.
The rally works to reclaim the term “slut” and to challenge the idea that women are responsible for violence enacted against them because of what they choose to wear. Women are encouraged to come to the rally in whatever clothing they like. Now, SlutWalks happen every year all over the world. This year, Amber Rose is leading the largest one yet, in Los Angeles.
Amber Rose, a figure often challenged for her appearance, even by exes Kanye West and ex-husband Wiz Khalifa, for her stripping past and voluptuous image. Rose’s presence brings a lot of attention to SlutWalk and promotes its visibility—and the more visibility, the more conversations will begin to change more minds about women’s bodies and violence. Rose has spoken out against the double-standards that try to force her into being something she isn’t, rape culture, and the challenges facing women in our society.
Heather Jarvis, co-founder of the first SlutWalk, is delighted that the rallies have been taken up by cities all around the world. “When we first organized it in 2011, it was in our mind a one-off event in Toronto, speaking to a Toronto context. We never envisioned that it would go anywhere beyond that even in our own city,” she said. She said she is also very happy to inspire productive conversations about violence against women.
Rose—and most women—know what it feels like to be judged about your body and appearance, and to have those judgments used against you, to make you feel unsafe. SlutWalk works to dismantle stigmas around sexual choice, and pointedly includes women of color, transgendered women, and sex workers who have faced adversity.
SlutWalk hopes that one day women will not be abused, criticized, or even killed for the way they dress. Women are not responsible for acts of violence committed against them—which, unfortunately, is not yet a message everyone understands.