Students Raise Awareness with Slut Walk, Chant “How We Dress Does Not Mean Yes”

Students gathered at Frost Hall just before 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 17th. All were in a variety of dress: sweatpants, lingerie, t-shirts, jeans, bras, shorts, and tank-tops.  Attendees included not only Students for Women’s Issues (SWI) President, Hailey McDonald, but also advisor Dr. Jill Morris. Gabbi Atwell, a sophomore student and member of SWI, also attended the Slut Walk, sporting both a Spiderman bra/underwear set and an array of colorful signs. “We want to bring awareness to these issues,” she explained, “We can’t judge for the way you dress.”

All in attendance were encouraged to wear clothes that reflect how most individuals are dressed when sexually assaulted. This is not specific to one outfit. Not all individuals who are sexually assaulted are dressed “provocatively”. “Most women,” Hailey said, “are assaulted in their pajamas.” Many situations are overlooked when it comes to sexual assault: safe at home, by trusted people one may know, dressed in baggy sweatshirts. Not all sexual assault incidents happen in dark alley ways with strangers. However, rapists are rarely convicted of a crime and even fewer are convicted of a felony. Over 61% of rapes are never reported, which means only 1 of 16, or 6%, of rapists will spend time in jail. This means that 15 of 16 rapists will walk free.

The walk route started at Frost Hall, then continued down the hill past campus police to the library, and ended at the clock tower. After receiving permission from Chief Cynthia R. Smith for the walk, the only obstacle was the Lane Center. For permission to pass through, Dr. Morris tried to contact Angel Flowers, the Event Management Coordinator of Student & Community Involvement. The response was not only late, but included the distinct reservation claiming the demonstrators “might be dressed to scandalously.” One of the main perpetuators of rape culture is influence of the societal restrictions placed upon women.

When the walk was postponed due to rain, Chief Smith approved it again. The members of Students for Women’s Issues walked through the Lane Center regardless of the implied indignity. 

Female students were not the only attendees of the walk. Student Pacom Tsague brought up the rear, holding a sign that read “No = No”. He explained his support for the protest by saying, “I feel like girls get blamed when something happens— like if they’re dressed a certain way. But it’s wrong blaming it on the victim.” Incidents of sexual assault should never be blamed on the victim, for he or she is never at fault.

Gathered at the clock tower, the students celebrated the walk with a photo op and the chance to spread awareness about sexual assault and  sexual violation. Other students passed by, looking at the group. One passerby responded to the chant, “The way we dress does not mean yes,” with “I think it does.” Atwell responded, repeating the motto and “this [her outfit] doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you.” Walking away, the unknown student continued to throw out crude phrases and hand gestures, claiming the women would “want this D”—to which Atwell replied with, “I don’t want the D unless it’s destruction of the patriarchy!”

Excusing such horrible acts of violation and assault, with excuses like “It’s sometimes the girl’s fault with the way she’s dressed”, or taking drunkenness as consent only generates support for rape culture and misogyny. President Gibralter is known amongst the SWI organization as a supporter of the group’s cause. PR supervisor Evelyn Hubbert said, “Even if we change one person’s perspective, I count this as successful.”

President Hailey McDonald concluded the walk with a statement, “We cannot successfully prevent sexual assault until we end rape culture and the misogyny of judging someone by what she’s wearing, who she is, or what she’s doing. It’s never the victim’s fault.”

Taken by Dr. Jill Morris
Taken by Dr. Jill Morris
Taken by Dr. Jill Morris
Taken by Dr. Jill Morris
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