On Wednesday, April 3rd—the second anniversary of the original Slut Walk in 2011—the people behind Slutwalk Toronto organized a day of action on the internet, called International Day Against Victim Blaming. The event functioned as a call-to-arms “to spread the word that those who experience sexual violence are never the ones at fault,” according to the organization’s website. Participants in the event were encouraged to take advantage of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr in order to spread awareness of victim blaming and the offensive rhetoric of slut shaming.

After a Toronto police officer advised women to “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” in February 2011, Heather Jarvis co-founded Slut Walk Toronto; she did so in response to a culture she believes blames women for sexual assault because of how they choose to dress or act.

The continued pervasiveness of victim-blaming rhetoric has been recently illuminated by the media coverage and commentary on the Steubenville rape case, such as Barbara Amiel’s controversial article in Maclean’s. Jarvis hopes IDAVB will both highlight “the horrendous examples of victim blaming around the world” and also “celebrate some amazingly creative ways people are fighting back.”

Since 2011 the Slut Walk movement has expanded internationally to include chapters in various North American cities. Two years later, the sentiment behind the march remains strong, but international growth has made it too difficult to organize and synchronize numerous marches all over the world.

“Online social activism is increasingly important and increasingly happening,” said Jarvis. “It’s a way for people to tap in when they may not have the availability, the time, or the energy to be out in a public space and attend a public event.”

SlutWalk Toronto took advantage of its connection to organizers around the world to promote the event internationally. This included translating key phrases regarding rape culture and victim blaming into multiple languages. Images bearing the statement “Because survivors deserve our support, not our scrutiny” were available in multiple languages, including German, Portuguese, and Hebrew.

“We want to highlight that this is not something that is just happening across North American mainstream media,” said Jarvis. “This is happening all over the world, all the time.”

With their audience growing to an international level, the IDAVB’s online social presence has enabled and augmented Slut Walk’s greater struggle to end oppression and violence against women worldwide.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: International Day Against Victim Blaming too large for traditional public protest
comments powered by Disqus