SlutWalk Tampa organizers march against sexual abuse

Charli Solis was incensed.

She had just read about Toronto police constable Michael Sanguinetti, who in January spoke about safety on a college campus. "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this," he told the group. "However, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

From Tampa, Solis took to her blog.

Dear Mr. Officer, I don't care if I'm wearing the sluttiest outfit or a skimpy top or if I'm totally naked. What I choose to wear does NOT, by ANY means, give anyone the right to sexually assault me.

"I was really disheartened," said Solis, 25. "He has become representative of this overall stigma that has been very prevalent in our society, that if something does happen to a woman, she was asking for it. She shouldn't have been wearing that or she shouldn't have been drinking that."

His comments evoked a global protest. SlutWalk events sprang up in Canada and 80 more times around the world. Thousands marched through streets chanting about rape, some dressed provocatively with paint and targets over body parts.

Dissenters said the flashiness of the walks actually hurt the cause, but Solis believed in it.

"I think this is the biggest movement of its kind for my generation," said Solis. "It's not about encouraging women to dress like sluts or be sluts. It's about mocking that meaningless concept of calling people sluts."

Solis, a graphic artist and University of Tampa student, had never organized anything so large before. But when she couldn't find a SlutWalk in Tampa, she decided to start her own. Months of planning and recruiting will culminate Saturday at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park in Tampa. Organizers expect at least 500 people to attend, some screaming and flashy, others muted and calm. They'll walk about a mile and listen to speeches from sexual assault survivors.

Solis has never been assaulted, but she said a stranger drugged her drink at a bar this year. She remembers the fear she felt the next morning, realizing what could have happened if her friends hadn't stepped in. For many people, she said, stronger feelings will surface at the event.

"I don't expect it to be rowdy in terms of mischief," she said. "I hope it'll be really profound."

SlutWalk Tampa

The event starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park at the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Morgan Street in Tampa. For information or to RSVP, visit slutwalktampa.com or call (248) 835-9031.

SlutWalk Tampa organizers march against sexual abuse 09/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 6:37pm]

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