As part of what has become a global effort roughly 200 Bristol women (and some token men) marched through the city in a ‘SlutWalk’ last weekend to call for an end to the “victim-blaming culture” of rape cases.
The original SlutWalk took place in Canada after a policeman advised university students to “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised,” and rapidly spawned copycat marches around the globe. The name ‘SlutWalk’ was coined as the protests aimed to “reclaim the term slut” and “destroy the sexist impression that there is any link between female promiscuity and incidents of sexual violence”. To get the point across marchers generally strut provocatively whilst wearing revealing outfits.
Whilst the Bristol march was advertised in advance as a ‘SlutWalk’, and certainly seemed to conform to most of the usual features, the term was actually avoided on the day. March organiser Marina O’Brien said, “I had seen the fact that it [the SlutWalk movement] had gone global and although I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of people wanting to reclaim the word, what I did find interesting was that more people than ever were talking about rape and sexual violence”. Banners, placards and leaflets which had been produced with the term ‘SlutWalk’ had the ‘slut’ part crossed out. Organiser Marina O’Brien said she wanted to see the term eradicated instead or reclaimed as it was derogatory towards women.
The Bristol march started at the Students’ Union and continued on to the city centre before several speakers rallied the crowds from College Green. During these speeches Miss O’Brien decried the fact that “one woman is raped every nine minutes in Britain. There are few convictions and many myths,” and said the march aimed to put “the blame back where it belongs, on the rapist rather than the victim”.
Additional speeches were made by representatives from Bristol Rape Crisis, Bristol Crisis Service for Women, Safer Bristol and Avon and Somerset Police.
Plans are already underway for another Bristol SlutWalk on Saturday October 6 next year with the aim of making the event an annual occasion.
You can read one of the main speechs given here:
And see a video of the Bristol SlutWalk at the link below or on our YouTube channel:
CORRECTION: This article originally credited Marina O’Brien with a speech that was actually made by a different Marina. Our apologies to those involved. The article has been corrected.