Hundreds of people took part in Saturday's "SlutWalk" to protest the perception that victims invite sexual assault by what they wear.
Maren Daniels joined hundreds of marchers in Saturday's provocatively named "SlutWalk" even though the 20-year-old said she doesn't approve of the word.
For the Augsburg College junior, she said the event wasn't about reclaiming a long-demeaning word but showing support for victims of sexual assault.
"I know a lot of people [here] are victims, and it's scary to see that," she said. "It's very moving. It's about love, compassion and awareness."
The grass-roots event, now a global phenomenon, started in Toronto after a police officer told young women that they would be less likely to be raped if they didn't dress "like sluts." Since then, marches have been held from Buenos Aires to New Delhi, with women sporting lingerie to make a point that sexual assault victims don't invite the violence.
On Saturday afternoon, about 400 people participated in Minneapolis' SlutWalk -- a perhaps more modest version as protesters donned jeans and sweatshirts for the cool October day among the few women marching in fishnet stockings or bras. It was a slightly smaller turnout than organizer Kim Sherva said she expected, but enough to make an impact.
"We're trying to bridge efforts," she said.
While many of the marchers were young women from colleges throughout the state, the march drew women and men of all ages and backgrounds, carrying signs that read messages such as, "Consent is sexy," or "The way I dress does not mean yes." As they streamed across the Hennepin Avenue bridge, passing cars and a ferry honked in support, onlookers took photos and diners eating outside watched with curiosity.
"We're getting a good response," said Robin Cole, 20, one of several students from St. Olaf College in Northfield.
The event, though, has also caused controversy among women's rights advocates for its intentionally in-your-face name, as well as concern that it only furthers the objectification of women.
As a self-proclaimed "old feminist," Cecilia Konchar Farr, 53, of St. Paul, disagreed with the event's critics, saying that the name is a playful and provocative way to bring more awareness to a serious issue.
"If the old feminists had solved the problem, we wouldn't be here," she said. "We're confronting the same problems, just in a different way."
As runners sprinted by and a group of Segway riders weaved in between them, the marchers made their way across the Stone Arch Bridge to Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, where the march began and ended.
The protest on some of Minneapolis' most iconic streets shows Konchar Farr, a longtime activist and a St. Catherine University professor, that it may be the younger generations of women who are able to alter age-old gender attitudes.
"I feel we've almost reached the tipping point," she said. "This generation could finally do it."
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141
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