“Sluts” walk on EWU campus for sexual assault awareness


Students participate in EWU’s second annual Slut Walk on April 27. The movement, which is against gender-based violence, started in Toronto in 2011 | Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

Over 100 students protested victim-blaming and slut-shaming April 27 for EWU’s second annual Slut Walk.

The transnational Slut Walk movement originally started in Toronto in 2011 during a protest against gender-based violence. As the students marched, one police officer commented that if women wanted to avoid rape, they should avoid dressing like “sluts.” Taken aback by the remark, the women immediately started organizing a rally that would comprise over 3,000 women protesters.

Seven years later, the Slut Walk continues to carry the message that a person’s clothing is not the reason for a sexual assault, thereby breaking the stigmas that invalidate sexual assault victims.

Jordan Stevenson, Planned Parenthood Global Youth Advocacy Fellow and organizer for this year’s EWU Slut Walk, hoped to convey the Slut Walk’s original meaning while adding a new twist.

“Since I am a Fellow for Planned Parenthood Global, I felt that it was really important to raise awareness for women’s health around the globe,” said Stevenson. “We chose the theme of ‘Woman Around the World’ very deliberately to get Eastern students thinking about how they can be a global citizen and how they can impact change around the world.”

Other organizations including MEChA, The Scary Feminists Club, YWCA Spokane, Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity and Health, Wellness & Prevention Services contributed and showed their support for the Slut Walk’s cause.

“The Slut Walk to me is a means for women to reclaim their sexuality, and their right to be able to be women in a society without being met with violence or oppression of any kind,” said Hannah Stephens, President of the Scary Feminists Club.

Along with the events of Sexual Assault Action Week happening on the days prior, the Slut Walk expressed its advocacy to not only spread its main message, but to sexual assault victims themselves, reminding victims that there is always help on EWU campus.

“It doesn’t take legislature to be there for a friend,” Peer Health Educator Jackie Haines said.

While the Slut Walk marked the end of Sexual Assault Action Week, it is the hope of the people involved in the week’s organization that the messages around sexual assault will keep their momentum on EWU campus, and the silence can continue to be broken.