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SlutWalk: A march to put an end to rape culture

Participants walk wearing as little or as much as they want. (Sam Selikoff / Staff Photographer)
Participants walk wearing as little or as much as they want. (Sam Selikoff / Staff Photographer)

Every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted, while one out of every four women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime, according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

To help fight these statistics, Women in Learning and Leadership held its second annual “SlutWalk” — this year renamed to “A March to End Rape Culture: SlutWalk TCNJ.” The event began on the steps behind the Arts and Interactive Multimedia building, where students gathered to participate in the movement to highlight and end rape culture. Participants were educated on the phenomenon of rape culture before being encouraged to march around campus holding signs, dressed however they wanted, to raise awareness of the subject.

The proceedings started off with WILL’s executive chair Tiffany Piatt, a senior biology major, discussing the significance of “SlutWalk.”

Students then began presenting readsings by reciting “Rape Poem to End All Rape Poems,” a defensive poem co-authored by Rutgers University students.

WILL’s vice executive chair Jennie Sekanics, a junior English and women and gender studies double major, then performed her poem, “Faceless We Face This.”

The poem told the story of Sekanics’s 17-year-old sister, who was sexually assaulted on the street one day. Believing that the man walking toward her wanted money, he instead “(claimed) what he owned” and assaulted her sister, according to the poem.

“We kept the conversation silent

because we didn’t want her younger 12-year-old sister to know,” Sekanics said on the poem’s theme.

As Sekanics went on, her voice became intense, angry and loud without the assistance of a microphone. The large group of students on the lawn trained their eyes on her, and her words caused many to shed tears.

“We have the power and the ability to change the world,” special guest speaker and assistant director of youth organizing Planned Parenthood of America Kelley Robinson said. 

Robinson talked about how ending rape and sexual assault begins with “breaking the silence.” She said that in order to mitigate rape culture, society must be taught how not to rape versus merely learning how not to get raped. She believes that the world wants victims to remain silent.

In relation to current events, Robinson brought up how Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is being shunned from the team and his fans, but the media ignored how his fiancé is dealing with the situation and how she is going to empower herself.

“We have to keep fighting back, because the statistics are rising,” Robinson said. “When I think of (these women), we are surviving.”

After Robinson finished her speech, students were invited to walk around campus to enforce the chanted idea that: “I’m no slut. I’m no hoe. Whatever you call me, no means no.”

Students came in a variety of different outfits to prove those like Toronto police officer Michael Sanguinetti wrong.

Sanguinetti outraged thousands of people by saying that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” in order to avoid being sexually assaulted — a comment that ultimately led to the creation of the first SlutWalk in 2011.

Matt Hardy, a sophomore sociology major, stripped down to his boxers and marched in a pair of furry red handcuffs.

Even two high school students joined the walk. One wore a bikini while the other wore a bra and a pair of underwear with the words “What’s the difference?” written on her stomach.

The walk went around the inside border of campus before returning to its start point, where pamphlets on sexual assault and anti-violence initiatives were handed out. “Consent is Sexy” bracelets and T-shirts were also being sold.

After the powerful night, participants and onlookers of this year’s SlutWalk will always remember that “yes means fuck me, no means fuck you.”

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