Toronto streets ‘sluttier’ than ever

Toronto Stars Heather Mallick protests during Slutwalk outside Toronto Police Headquarters

When a large group of people protest for a righteous cause it’s hard to describe the feeling, but arguably no protest was more ineffable than Toronto’s SlutWalk this Sunday.

Thousands of every race, colour, gender status and identity gathered outside Old City Hall to “take back” the word slut. The male presence and support was unmistakable, and LGBTQ’s plight was never more obvious.

The cause for Sunday’s gathering confused many outsiders. But any confusion was diluted quickly into the protest.

“We are here because we’ve had enough. Enough of being told that we should be ashamed of ourselves, ashamed of our appearance, ashamed of our pleasure and ashamed of being victimized,” said Sonya Barnett, one of SlutWalk’s co-founders.

“Why take back a word that has been used to demean and demoralize? We’re doing it because we have the power to change it.”

SlutWalk was conceived after Toronto police officer Michael Sanguinetti publicly stated, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The statement circulated quickly, generating a collective uproar across the country.

In response, an estimated 4000 protestors gathered at Queens Park S. at 1:30 p.m., and marched towards the Toronto Police Headquarters on 40 College St. at 2:00.

Organizers dawning SlutWalk t-shirts shouted “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no” over megaphones, while supporters answered at the top of their lungs.

Hundreds of signs were raised throughout the sea of people, adorned with detailed phrases such as “I don’t want to live in a rape culture” and “I like sex, I don’t like unwanted sex.”

Toronto Star’s Heather Mallick paraded with a smile, proudly holding a sign that read “It shouldn’t be this hard to be easy.”

“I’m hoping that [the protest] will make police officers and many men realize that it doesn’t matter what a woman wears, it’s what she says that counts,” Mallick said.

“I think all good men fight against sexual assault. Men are wonderful, but I just think we can make them a little more wonderful today.”

As the people made their way down the street, a band added their up-tempo music to the chorus of the cheers. Rosemary from Toronto complemented the band with her trumpet, the only way she knew how to contribute.

“I was interested in SlutWalk because it upset me that there are no male words for slut. I wanted to come and show my support to all the women who have been in pain, and since my trumpet is much louder than I am, it made sense to use it,” Rosemary said.

The protest’s climax came when the march reached its destination, as several notable speakers shared some inspiring words.

Deb Singh of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre spoke first, followed by Michael Kaufman of the White Ribbon Campaign. Alyssa Teekah, an SWTO York Liaison, garnered many cheers, while Jane Doe finished the speeches by offering hope to the many onlookers.

According to reports, Officer Sanguinetti has since apologized for his statements.

Toronto’s SlutWalk was the first of many protests to occur across Canada.

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