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Wendy Reuer, Published April 24 2013

SlutWalk march against blaming rape victims set at MSUM

MOORHEAD – Provocative clothing is welcome at Friday’s Minnesota State University Moorhead Stop Rape SlutWalk here.

Participants need not wear revealing or suggestive clothing, but some will don their “sluttiest” attire at a march meant to rail against blaming victims of sexual assault and abuse.

Or as the organizers of a SlutWalk in the Twin Cities describe in their mission statement as the motto of the event: It’s not “Don’t get raped,” it’s “Don’t rape.”

The Stop Rape SlutWalk will begin at 3 p.m. at the MSUM west entrance. More than 50 participants plan to march across the campus square.

MSUM student Lisa Rector and fellow students in the women's and gender issue class taught by Shannon Terry organized the march. Rector said the event puts a focus on how rape victims are sometimes accused of provoking the attack by the way they were dressed.

“It’s an ongoing issue that goes on around the Fargo-Moorhead area,” Rector said.

The MSUM Stop Rape SlutWalk is based on similar events held worldwide after the first SlutWalk on April 3, 2011, in Toronto.

More than 3,000 gathered in Toronto to rally against blaming sex assault victims after Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto police officer, said “women should avoid dressing like sluts” to remain safe. Sanguinetti later apologized for the remark.

That response prompted SlutWalks in many other cities. For instance, six months after the Toronto event, a SlutWalk was held in the Twin Cities. Another is set for Oct. 5 in Minneapolis.

Friday’s walk is the first known SlutWalk to be organized in Fargo-Moorhead.

Greg Diehl, executive director of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center in Fargo, said the issue of victim blaming is prevalent in this region. He said cases of rape are often followed by questions such as:

“What was she wearing?”

“Was she drinking?”

“Why was she out so late?”

“What (victims) do or what they wear is not them asking to be sexually assaulted,” Diehl said. “(Rape) is not a crime of sex, it’s crime of violence.”

The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center is not an active partner in Friday’s event.

“I certainly honor and respect the intent. Our messaging is just a little different than theirs,” Diehl said. “We certainly want to spread the same message; we don’t want victims to be blamed for something that is perpetrated against their will.”

Diehl said the center’s message is more of an active, all-encompassing effort to educate the community about sexual assault and abuse.

“Everyone has to realize sexual violence is not issues for the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center to deal with, it’s issues for everybody to deal with,” he said. “We believe it’s up to the community to eradicate the problem.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530