SlutWalk in Salt Lake City aims to change the way society views sexual assault

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of Utahns got scantily clad for a cause and took to the streets of downtown Salt Lake City for this year’s Slut Walk.

The festival and march were established four years ago in Canada when a police officer suggested women stop dressing like sluts to avoid sexual violence.

The march was at 3 p.m. and went for several blocks around city hall and passed the public safety building. It ended back at Washington Square, where a festival was held from noon to 5 p.m. It’s a movement of survivors and allies working to shift the many stigmas so often attached with sexual violence.

“I love that people say, ‘Oh she was in a dress. She deserved it.’ Um, I was in my own home in pajama bottoms and a T-shirt: No I didn’t deserve it,” said Shawndell Hoyt, who is the event director for SlutWalk SLC 2014.

Hoyt is a survivor of rape and domestic violence who found that sharing her story helps with healing.

“Here you’re with other survivors, and you are able to tell your story and be in the company of them and it gives people so much empowerment,” Hoyt said.

SlutWalk is a global event that started in Toronto back in 2011 when a police officer said women should stop dressing like sluts as a precaution against unwanted sexual attention.

“They took the world’s top 80 offenders and asked what their victims were wearing and not one of them could say,” Hoyt said. “So when that officer made that statement, a global movement started. There’s one in Australia, Bangladesh.”

The goal of the festival of speakers, vendors, and a march is to bring light to the many misconceptions attached to rape and sexual violence. Misconceptions like the idea that only women are rape victims.

“Rape and sexual assault, domestic violence is not just a feminine issue,” said Braxton Dutson, the director of the Clothesline Project. “It’s not just for women specifically. It’s a problem for men as well. Men need to stand up and tell their story.”

The Clothesline Project brings out T-shirts that have been decorated by victims to help them share their stories and help raise awareness of the violence that’s occurring every day in our community.

“Anyone can make a shirt,” Dutson said. “They can put their experience, what happened to them, messages of hope from their experience or something similar. They are supposed to help everyone understand that it is occurring.”

Janet Wagner’s daughter Heidy died a victim of domestic violence when she was murdered in 2012. Since then, Janet makes a point to come to as many events, rallies, and walks as possible--hoping some change will come of it.

“That’s how you do it: power in numbers and voices,” Wagner said. “It causes people to stand up take notice.”

Chief Chris Burbank, Salt Lake City Police Department, brought some news to the festival when he announced that Salt Lake City was selected for a national study that looks at and evaluates how police departments handle sexual assaults.

Burbank said: “And in a study that we would be one in four cities to look at how we handle things, develop best practices, make changes as necessary and then to go out to the nation and say, ‘This is how we should be doing business.’ So, extremely proud of that.”

The chief said the study will strengthen the police department as a whole, which is always the goal.

For more information about SlutWalk SLC, visit their website.

13 comments

    • Bob

      Just as with the difference between refined gold vs cheap costume jewelry there is a very real difference between refined women and trashy females. It is easy to identify which are which as you walk down the street.

      Each type attract companions and friends with similar attitudes and behaviors. I’m much more interested in what I’m going to BBQ tonight than I am in some female who reminds me of cheap costume jewelry.

  • Trish Ramirez

    No victim of s e x u a l assault is to blame. Not for any reason. Not because of what they wore. Not if they flirted. Not if they changed their mind. No means no.

    The ONLY one to blame for a s e x u a l assault is the person who commits the crime, and there is a huge problem in this nation when it comes to the way perpetrators of these crimes are treated like victims and victims are shamed and harassed and treated like they invited the assault somehow.

    Too many excuses are made for the monsters who commit these crimes. This is especially true if they have never offended before, if they are in good community standing, have wealth or power or are hold prominent positions at school or church.

    How many times do we hear about the people who commit these crimes getting off with barely a slap on the wrist – or even getting away with their crimes altogether – because they are otherwise ‘a great person; a wonderful parent; the NICEST guy,’ while victims have their entire past scrutinized, have to explain what they were WEARING, if they were DRINKING, were they FLIRTING or LEADING SOMEONE ON.

    It’s ridiculous.

    Honestly, I think that this s l u t walk is the wrong way to go when it comes to this kind of thing, though, because this is NEVER going to get through to people who believe that a woman can somehow invite assault.

    What we need to do, as a society, is to remove the taboo of talking about s e x abuse, teach children from their earliest age that NO ONE has the right to touch them in ways that makes them uncomfortable, that they don’t have the right to touch anyone else in any way that might make THEM uncomfortable and that violating people in such a way is not just unacceptable, but that it is against the law and will be punished accordingly.

    Kids need to be taught these things. And parents should NOT be legally allowed to opt their children out of these lessons, because this type of abuse most often takes place in the home or at the hands of someone known and trusted.

    Then, the legal community needs to follow through AGGRESSIVELY with the prosecution of these cases – no plea deals, no minimum sentences.

    S e x crimes are a HUGE problem in this nation and around the world. The victims are far more likely to be women, and because we have a culture that makes discussing such things taboo or when women DO try to get help, they are often treated as though they were in a position to control the actions of their victimizer by way of their clothing choices…nonsense.

    S e x crimes are 100% the fault of the perpetrator. All the time. They are in control of their actions. Violating someone who has said no is about POWER. It’s about having control. And while some of these monsters may have triggers that compel them to attack people, that is certainly not the fault of the person who is attacked

    • Bob

      Mature men and women evaluate their surroundings and realize that the person who walks on the edge of the cliff is more likely to get hurt than the one who walks on the clearly marked path.

      The person who is stupid enough to associate with animals is much more likely to get hurt by one than the person who carefully selects his or her friends.

  • Gina Brosell

    There is no good reason or excuse for violence if any kind. However a lot of girls advertise with their attire, and then are disappointed when a man “uses” her, or “only wants one thing.” Although no one should take something when not invited, the appearance you present to the world looks as if you are offering certain things. While it doesn’t excuse the man, it doesn’t say much that’s flattering about a woman. When a woman is confident, and secure in her appearance, she doesn’t have to make a spectacle of herself. If dock value us what you are going for, no one is shocked any more. I believe disgust or pity are as good as you get. Putting yourself in an event that labels you a slut is just reaffirming what is obvious to the, excuse the pun, naked eye.

    • Trish Ramirez

      You just don’t get it, do you? Women are not defined by men or what men think of them. We are not chattel or property. We are our own people. Our bodies belong to US. Not to gawd, not to our husbands or boyfriends or girlfriends or random strangers or society or a religion.

      We can dress ourselves, or undress ourselves, as we see fit.

      You are no better than the religious extremists on the other side of the world who would believe that your modest mormon skirts and tops were sending out an invitation to r a p e.

      Judging another woman by the length of her skirt is, perhaps, the single most ignorant and insulting thing one female can do to another.

      Of course, I would imagine that you have been raised in a culture in which you have been taught that you must project a certain shallow, superficial image so that everyone else will know what a good little girl you are on the inside.

      As long as you dress a certain way and go to church every Sunday, you must be one of the good ones.

      Sigh.

      As long as there are still people who believe that a woman is defined by anything other than herself and her soul, we are going to keep having the same issues. It just makes me sad to see WOMEN jumping on the bandwagon, bashing other women.

      Sickening.

      • Bob

        Yes, we do get it Trish. Women are not defined by men. They define themselves. The advantage to this parade is that some females don’t even have to dress out of character to blend right it.

        What you don’t get Trish is that men don’t care how you dress. Decent men just prefer to associate with refined women. You either are one … or you aren’t. Make no difference to us.

      • Trish Ramirez

        You still don’t get it, Bob, if you believe that character traits such as decency, class and refinement can be truly depicted or discerned based upon something as superficial as clothing choices.

        If you believe that you can judge the depth of a person’s soul based upon what they wear, or if you believe that someone should be judged based upon clothing, you are an ignorant part of the problem.

      • Bob

        The prostitute, TRISH, is much more likely to be assaulted than the woman who goes home to her husband and children every day after work. Just common sense.

  • no more five oh

    Way to go ladies it is great to see you stand up for your rights to dress how ever you want.

    • Bob

      No, Trish, there is much much much more that goes into how a woman identifies herself. Clothing is only one of the things that defines a woman. Her walk, her talk, who she associates with, and her level of maturity all go into the picture a woman paints of who she is.

      One thing is for certain. There were no refined women in attendance at this walk, a walk without any meaning to mature folks.

      • Bob

        When I went to high school a prude was a girl who wouldn’t sleep with every boy on the football team. Nothing wrong with being a prude Bob. They are the ones that have a stable marriage, haven’t been divorced, aren’t living with some woman who just came home from a Slut Walk.

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