This past Friday, Oct 13, saw the return of the annual March to End Victim Blaming. Organized by the student group Revolution Against Rape (RAR), the rally acts as a means to raise awareness to the campus rape culture and to catalyze discussions about the issues that still remain.
Around the world, testimonies by sexually assaulted individuals are often downplayed by turning it around on the victim in such ways as blaming the clothes they were wearing or for being in the wrong place alone. Once, a Toronto police officer advised that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” to avoid being raped.
Because of this response, victims often feel that the legal system will not support them and many never publicly accuse their attacker. Through the March, RAR hopes to raise awareness and change public policy and perception to protect victims and punish offenders.
This year, RAR decided to change the name of the event, which was previously called ‘SlutWalk,’ to the ‘March to End Victim Blaming.’ The purpose of the term ‘SlutWalk’ was in an effort to reclaim the word ‘slut’ and to shock the audience. “This event is meant to bring awareness to the issue of rape culture on college campuses in a very loud way,” RAR secretary, Skyler Trice said. The event’s name was ultimately changed in a hope to be more inclusive. Trice further said the term ‘SlutWalk’ gave people the impression they had to dress a certain way in order to attend the event and RAR Vice President Morgan Reiss said they felt the title pushed some away who were uncomfortable with identifying with the word.
Regardless of the name, the event drew hundreds, including State Representative Greg Haddad and Senator Mae Flexer (http://dailycampus.com/stories/2017/10/16/whatever-we-wear-wherever-we-go-yes-means-yes-and-no-means-no). Both are working to pass sexual assault-related legislation including the affirmative consent act which underscores that the presence of ‘yes,’ rather than the lack of ‘no,’ is required in consensual activity.
After another successful march, UConn is reminded again how much power students collectively have. Many students recognize that rape culture is an issue but are unsure as to what to do about it beyond individual decisions. The March, and other events like it, give students a voice that administration and representatives should be advised to listen to.