The March to End Rape Culture, formally known as the “Slut Walk”, is an event that has been occurring in cities all throughout the country for the last five years. For Philadelphia, this year’s march occurred on Oct. 3rd at 11 a.m. beginning at JFK Boulevard. It is the 3rd consecutive year that Philadelphia has participated in holding the event. Each year has had much larger turnouts than the previous, as well as more experienced speakers. The event attracted a widely diverse group of men and women and a wide range of guests, speakers and sponsorship. Many of the speakers had colorful voices all with unique perspectives on the event’s cause and future fights. Some told stories, others read poetry, and powerful speeches were given at the beginning and end of the march.
After the speakers were finished there were several dance and musical performances. One dance troop, “The Vagina Regime” featured group of talented young women who did routines to songs “featuring strong female leads” such as Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and Rihanna. By adding musical guests and performers, the organizers really added a modern touch that had been missing among previous years.
The actual march itself attracted a lot of street and press attention, which is expected to bring much-needed publicity for next year’s walk. Part of what makes this walk so special and unique are the sarcastic and colorful signs that young women bring to the walk. The Slut Walk embodies our modern wave of feminism, where girls have promoted the cause through humor, honesty, and shock factor.
The most fulfilling part of participating in the march had to be listening to the amazing speakers leading the event. Each speaker covered different aspects of rape culture and provided some insight on what they believed we can do to work towards change. Dr. Timaree Schmit discussed the harm that school dress codes can represent and how important it is to volunteer at various women programs to benefit each other. Other topics discussed were violence against transgender people, slut shaming, girl on girl hate, and consent. Each speaker had some background or expertise in assisting women or the movement. Psychiatrists, advocates, lobbyists, prosecutors, and organization leaders all helped aid in the sincerity of the event.
Many participating in the event or watching from the sidelines posted photos or videos on various social media sites with the hashtag #mterc2015. With such a great turnout and lineup of activities, the march is already expected to happen again next year. This event is free to attend with no registration necessary.
As a college student in particular, I think it is important to educate yourself on the serious problem of rape culture and sexual assault. According to WOAR, Most sexual assaults happen to women during the ages 16-25 and 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This issue affects all women on a daily basis. We can all relate to the fear of walking down empty streets alone. This event is a step towards shedding that fear for future generations and helping society to shift their focus to the deep roots of the problem.
I encourage more people to attend next year because it is an experience that will have you feel like you are playing an active role in helping the greater community of women. It is a fun, exciting experience. At the very least, this event will leave you more aware, cautious, and educated about the issues facing women today and how we can further prevent them.