“Sluts” march through Omaha

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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.

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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.

Dozens of women, and men, marched the streets of Omaha Sunday, for the city's first annual "SlutWalk." (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“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.”

(from left) Ayn Bahlke, Megan Martin and Jessica Sophir, dressed like "sluts" to show their support for victims of sexual assault. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“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.

14 Responses

  1. Dogman says:

    Personal responciblity is a large part of not becoming a victim. No one should be raped because of what they wear but certainly a person should not be irresponcible in their actions. That includes the way they act and dress. If you wear a pair of assless chaps into a gay bar then the other patrons might think you are there to attract a gay partner. Many women wear low cut shirts to show their cleavage, great, but do not expect people not to look at what you are showing.

    • Kynthis the Vegas slut says:

      It is fine to look. It is NOT fine to touch. Unless we say yes. But if I walk in in panties and corset and boots and some asshole grabs me, I have 950,000 reasons he will never do that again.

      I tase em till I get tired of the show.

  2. kritik1 says:

    Is a persons dignity judged by the clothes he/ she wears, or is the persons dignity judged by the behavior and actions including attitude of a person? In any case its relationship to assault from the public is absolutely unjustified.
    So who can carry out assault? No one with the exception of law enforcement agencies UNDER EXTREMELY DIFFICULT CONDITIONS COUPLED WITH ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT ‘CONTROL’SITUATION, IN ALL OTHER CASES EVEN THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES NEED PROPER AUTHORITY TO CARRY OUT ANY ASSAULT. Example a woman dressed like a slut gains admission at a children benefit show, upon complaint from public the police cannot physically remove that woman from the show unless he seeks and gets a pre-authorization to act.
    As a man I support womens right for dignity to move around freely without any conditions to clothing or cosmetic make up and certainly without subjected to physical harm or insults set forth by the so-called-clothing-criteria exceptions being the right of an establishment’s refusal to serve or refuse admission to the enter the establishment.

  3. Brian says:

    Sometimes the victim deserves a little blame…if I leave my keys in my car with the doors unlocked, It’s probably my fault if someone steals it. Yes theft is wrong, but it’s basically an invitation. If you are a scantly clad woman walking down an alley late at night, you’re sending the same message.

    • Lit says:

      By that logic, if someone suddenly breaks into your home and beats you to within an inch of your life, it’s YOUR fault for not having a better door.

  4. Kristel says:

    Brian, it is that attitude that frightens me and why I am so glad this rally has started and has spread throughout the world at such a fast pace. Rape is never, ever ok. This movement is not to say women should be able to wear whatever they want without getting a few looks. It’s saying they should be able to wear whatever they want and NOT BE RAPED. If you disagree with that, you need your head examined.

  5. ryan says:

    In no way would I condone rape. But if you see a person dressed as a policeman, don’t you expect that he is a policeman?

    • Kevin says:

      You’re missing the point. Even if a girl IS a slut, that does not make it ok to rape her. “No” does not secretly mean “Yes” just because of appearances.

    • jenny heineman says:

      You’re logic is flawed detrimentally. The point of SlutWalk is to show that identity is not bound to superficial aspects like clothing as it for people in uniform. Uniforms are signifiers. A police officer is dressed in uniform as a signifier of safety, protection, and community service. ‘Slutty’ dress is NOT a signifier of an open invitation. The reason these marches have been successful worldwide is because people like you make two dehumanizing assumptions: 1. The assumption that women are defined by their sexual behavior, and 2. The assumption that IF their clothing designates sexual behavior (in the case of, what I presume to be, your stereotypical image of a “street walker”), they are somehow deserving of dehumanization or disrespect. Of course you wouldn’t know any of this, though, because you’ve most likely never had the great pleasure of being with a slut.

  6. concerned says:

    Ryan – Sluts may like to have lots of sex, but even they have the right to say NO! Just because some women may be a slut, doesn’t mean she should be raped!

  7. Teresa Prince says:

    Many people misunderstand rape. It is not a crime about sexual gratification, it is about asserting control over another human being. That’s why a disproportionate number of victims of rape are children or are disabled. They are easier to overpower. That is also why all the analogies to theft did not work. Because sexual predators have no human decency and a short skirt will inspire them to rape. All they need is the opportunity. The majority of men are decent and will ogle a women’s cleavage but never dare to penetrate her without consent. I knew my attacker for three years and he raped me the night he got into my dorm room, even though I was wear baggy men’s pajamas at the time.

  8. Denise Holling says:

    @concerned – The police have a very clear uniform, whereas dressing “slutty” is based purely on opinion. One mans “trashy” is another persons “classy”.

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