May 8, 2011 in Nation/World

Boston ‘SlutWalk’ draws thousands

Russell Contreras Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Women march through downtown Boston on Saturday in response to a Toronto police officer who said women shouldn’t dress like “sluts” if they wanted to avoid being raped.
(Full-size photo)

BOSTON – Chanting “We love sluts!” and holding signs like “Jesus loves sluts,” approximately 2,000 protesters marched Saturday around the Boston Common as the city officially became the latest to join an international series of protests known as “SlutWalks.”

The protest movement, sparked by a Toronto police officer’s remark that women could avoid being raped by not dressing like “sluts,” came to Boston after advocates saw similar events – largely organized through Facebook and Twitter – pop up in Canada, England and other parts of the U.S.

“We wanted to do something to show our support,” said Siobhan Connors, 20, of Lynn, Mass., a Boston organizer. “We originally planned for a small event and expected about 30 people.”

But by the time the march began Saturday, about 2,000 people – some dressed in lingerie with “slut” written across their stomachs – were in attendance.

In January, a Toronto police officer told a group of university students that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to avoid being raped. He later apologized. The officer was disciplined but remained on duty.

Vanessa White, 33, of Somerville, Mass., heard about the event through Facebook and showed up for the Boston event dressed in a pink jacket and fishnet stockings.

“For me … it’s an attempt to reclaim the word ‘slut’ itself,” said White. “Because once you reclaim it, you take the power away from it.”

Before the march, a small group of counterprotesters walked around the gathering. Dubbed the “PimpWalk,” organizer Samuel Bilowski, 23, of Salem, N.H., said, “This is a pathetic attempt at a joke. We’re just having fun.”

Following Boston, SlutWalk marches are planned in Seattle, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Austin, Texas.

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