“Sluts” march through Omaha
September 19th, 2011
Omaha, NE – Self-proclaimed “sluts” took to the streets of Omaha Sunday to send the message that no matter what women may wear, their clothes are not an invitation for sexual assault.
On a dreary afternoon, a large group of women, and men, brought some color to downtown Omaha – made up with bright lipstick, bold eye shadow, boots and fishnet stockings. Holding up signs that read “No means no” and “Don’t tell women what to wear, tell men not to rape,” they marched through Omaha’s Old Market – loud and proud.
“We just want to be a positive voice as much as we can,” said Jamie Sughroue, who helped organize the rally. “People don’t talk about this cause enough.”
Sughroue said the rally was modeled after similar so-called “SlutWalks” held around the country this year. They were prompted by an incident in Toronto, Canada in January, when a policeman, giving a talk on health and safety, reportedly said “women should avoid dressing like sluts” if they don’t want to be victimized.
“Blaming the victim for their predicament is never right and it happens far too often,” said Jessica Sophir, who joined the rally because she said she believes blaming the victim of sexual assault is more than an isolated problem.
“It’s blamed on totally irrelevant things like what you’re dressed in, if you left your drink at the bar unattended,” she said. “You don’t ask for that sort of victimization, you never do, and so the fact that it still happens really bothers me.”
“You’re immediately asking for it the minute you put something on,” said Ayn Bahlke, standing beside Sophir. Bahlke said when it comes to rape, society is still stuck in the 1950s, where women are considered public property.
“It has nothing to do with the fact that once you put on a fitted pair of jeans, or a shirt that shows a little bit of cleavage, that maybe you feel pretty good about yourself,” she said. “I like my boobs as much as the next guy,” she laughed, “And I feel like I can show them off without feeling like I’m asking for something more than just wanting to wear a cute shirt.”
The rallies – which have taken place in cities around the country from Dallas to Chicago to Seattle – are provocative by nature. The skirts are short; the signs are dotted with curse words. But that’s kind of the point. Megan Martin attended and said part of the problem is people are too afraid to talk openly about sex.
“That leads to a lot of this unspoken communication that we’re supposed to all understand about sex,” she said. “And it’s no surprise that signals get crossed, and guys don’t know how to actually ask for sex, and women are afraid to ask for sex because the minute they do they’re sluts. So I would just like to see the conversation about sex in this country to grow up.”
Organizers of Omaha’s “SlutWalk” are planning to bring the rally back next year, making it an annual event that goes beyond the comments of one policeman to become a regular rally that sends a message – loud and clear.
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