This Saturday, July 2, Denver’s Civic Center Park will be filled with women and men banding together under the banner of “slut”. The first organized SlutWalk Denver is part of a grassroots campaign to raise sexual assault awareness and empower women.
SlutWalk first began in April this year in Toronto after a representative from the police department remarked “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” As a reaction, the first SlutWalk was held and provided an opportunity to raise awareness about sexual assault and victims. Since the first one in April, more than 20 SlutWalk events have been held globally, with many more planned.
The Denver event was designed by Emerald Green, Beth Feret and Felicia Scheumaker, who heard about the SlutWalk events held in other cities and started asking around about when one would be held in Denver.
“We kept on asking around when it was going to happen, and then realized that it wouldn’t happen unless someone organized it, so we decided to do it ourselves,” said Green.
Boulder Weekly Editor Pamela White is the keynote speaker at the event. White has been a columnist for 19 years and covered issues of sexual assault extensively, as well as coming out as a victim of sexual assault herself.
Though they had some prior involvement with different activist groups, this is the first time any of the women had organized an event as big as SlutWalk. They have encountered some hurdles and criticism, particularly on the Facebook page for the event.
“A lot of the comments were really nasty and used really foul language, which shows that this is definitely an important issue we need to discuss out in the open,” said Scheumaker.
Pamela White said that the criticism of the event reveals many issues still exist when it comes to how society views rape and its victims.
“We’re still not evolved as we could be,” she said, “we’re continually trying to control women to prevent rape, when we need to look at why men rape and issues of masculinity.”
Some of the criticism has been directed at the use of the word “slut”, a word that the three organizers acknowledged still has a lot of command in society.
“The word can be really powerful, but I think a big part of this event is allowing women to take control of it and take the power away from it,” said Feret. White said the word works effectively at gaining attention, but at the same time reveals existing misogynistic views when it comes to the word and how it is applied to women.
“There still seems to be this view that woman are either a virgin, a wife or a slut, and anytime someone steps outside accepted boundaries or makes their own choices they are slapped down with the label of ‘slut’,” White said.
Green said that regardless of whether people identify with the word or not, she still encourages people to come out as an ally to a ‘slut’ and that people realize they aren’t at fault when it comes to sexual assault.
Besides promoting conversation and awareness of sexual assault and victims, the organizers hope to make people aware of the resources available to them. There are several organizations attending the event with information, including Planned Parenthood and TESSA, a Colorado Springs shelter for victims of domestic violence.
The event is also open and welcome to men, a decision made in hopes to make the event more inclusive. White said that men are an important part of the conversation in ending rape.
“Heroic men have a role to play in this fight too and we need to have a discussion in society about why rape happens,” said White.
For those looking for more information about SlutWalk Denver, they can look at the Facebook page or at
“I hope that this can help start a conversation and as it grows, bring in people from different movements to work on this issue, so it can be the best awareness movement possible,” Scheumaker said.
While it’s hard to say what might be said by Saturday’s speakers, Jaclyn Friedman, speaking at the Boston event, let it all hang out, so to speak:
You know what I expect will happen when I’m dressed like a slut? People will want to get with me. You know what I don’t mean when I dress like a slut? That anyone I encounter can literally do anything at all they want to me. I know. It’s shocking. Because clearly you thought me wearing my tits out like this gives every single one of you carte blanche to do anything whatsoever you might want to do with my body. I’m very sorry to disappoint.