Tag Archives: Slutwalk

Story of last night's Slutwalks panel at the OBA

Journalist Peter H. Martyn has collected many of the tweets from this event (see info about the event here) using the Storify tool.  Neat, because if you read it through, it gives you a fair bit of info about what happened at the session.

One of the most stunning moments of the evening was when Ronda Bessner, assistant dean of Osgoode Law School’s JD program, who had organized the original safety session with Toronto Police, praised panelist and SlutWalk co-founder Sonya Barnett for her consciousness-raising efforts. Barnett responded that Bessner’s words were the first feedback that the SlutWalk organizers had heard from York University.

Which opens up other questions, naturally – what feedback would have been appropriate and who should have delivered it.  Anyway, we here at Osgoode have definitely been following the story for a while.  See here, for instance.  As you can see, at the time, I was focused on the campus safety discourse, which I tend to find problematic.  But when Slutwalk started, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it, and I think at least some students felt the same.  I certainly appreciated getting the message out about the bad police behaviour – but other parts of the message….were either concerning to me or just of less interest.  Others here at Osgoode no doubt had different opinions.

Back to the session: Lots of IFLS tweets, by our guest tweeter Osgoode student @samarabrooke.  You might also be very interested in Slutwalk Toronto’s anti racism statement [better late than never, so brava to them] and the very positive reception it received from Akiba Solomon at Colorlines.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/OsgoodeIFLS/statuses/132242767354134528″]




Happy weekend everyone, and don’t forget about those clocks.

The Word “Slut”, via The Forum

From our friends at the Feminist Legal Forum (U of M School of Law), The Word “Slut” « The Forum   It’s a speech at Winnipeg’s first slutwalk, given by Chandra Mayor.

….slut is a smokescreen. Slut is a way to keep us from seeing and naming the truth.

I’m relatively agnostic on slutwalk (not on things like THIS, though, nor things like THIS), but I am amazed by the amount of blog space devoted to it.  Part of my feeling about it is that slutwalk itself has now begun to obscure the very problem it was designed to illuminate.  Not their fault, but a complication of trying to find ways that will be heard to express these kinds of truth.

(the FLF have some other posts up about slutwalk that might interest you as well).

On that note, and for those of you who like to plan way, way ahead,, Ratna Kapur will be coming to Osgoode on March 7th, 2012.  Her talk will be entitled: Slutwalk Couture: The Politics of Feminism Lite.  More on that later!


Contest (Osgoode students only, sorry)! Nov. 3 OBA Dinner/Talk: Feminist Legal Analysis: Part of the solution, or part of the Problem?

CBA – Feminist Legal Analysis: Slutwalks: Part of the solution, or part of the Problem?

Sonya J. F. Barnett,SlutWalk CoFounder
Brenda Cossman, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
Karin Galldin,Galldin Law, Feminist Legal Practice

I want to go to this Ontario Bar Association program (click through link or see below), but I can’t make it work with my schedule.   Next best option:

in exchange for a promise to write up a short blog post on this event OR some other issue (pls specify) OR do 8-10 tweets on the night for IFLS, I will hand out max four student tickets to this event to Osgoode students.  Send me an email! slawrence at the usual osgoode. first come first serve.

NB: You have to be a student member of the OBA/CBA (or you can buy a membership for $20) to attend on the student tickets i’m offering here – and i’m prioritizing people who will actually attend, as opposed to watch webcast).

It’s an opportunity to have someone else make your dinner, and to see Prof Brenda Cossman speak, should be fun. Do you read her posts at SexText, the blog of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at U of T?  She also tweets, @BrendaCossman.



Slutwalks: Part of the solution, or part of the Problem?
November 3, 2011

SlutWalks began in the spring of 2011 after a Toronto police officer told York University students that to remain safe, “women should avoid dressing like sluts.” In angry response, young women (and men) marched in Toronto and over 70 cities around the world, often dressed in bras, halter tops and garter belts.

New York Times reporter Rebecca Traister and others have questioned whether SlutWalks leave young feminists open to the very kinds of attacks they are battling. In this session, the panel will explore from a legal perspective, whether SlutWalks are a positive or negative phenomena in the ongoing struggle to eliminate sexual violence against women.

Date: Thursday, November 3, 2011
Location: The Conference Centre at the OBA
200-20 Toronto Street | Toronto ON M5C 2B8
Agenda: 5:30 pm Registration
6:00 pm Buffet Dinner
6:30 pm Panel Discussion followed by Q & A period
CPD LOGO CPD HOURS1.5 Substantive Hours
0 Professionalism Hours
0 New Member Hours

Register for Live Program | Register for Live Webcast

Shelley Quinn, Counsel, Department of Justice Canada
Sheryl Smolkin, Lawyer/Writer/Editor

Sonya J. F. Barnett,SlutWalk CoFounder
Brenda Cossman, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
Karin Galldin,Galldin Law, Feminist Legal Practice

** NO LATE REGISTRATIONS OR WALK INS AVAILABLE – For in-person programs with a meal, registration is closed 1 day before the program. Webcast option is still available. **

Slutwalk (small) Roundup

I haven’t written much here about what will probably be Osgoode’s biggest media moment of the year.  Slutwalk is a big deal, and the genesis of the idea was something that happened right here.  I did, of course, write about it a little bit (click here for “What not to wear”), but then Slutwalk took on a life of it’s own, rather unconnected to York or Osgoode.  Now Slutwalk is big enough to be “controversial” – and the main controversy does not seem to be about violence against women or whether and how “society” blames women for sexual violence perpetrated against them.  Nope – the media seems most interested in this (as Brenda Cossman put it on twitter) as a visual feast and a “catfight”.  Is Slutwalk feminist? Pit no against yes, and stand back!

Oh well, here’s a set of links for your consideration, but let me make a minor intervention first – my own position is that I have no doubt that Slutwalk has feminist potential. I think that our questions ought to be around how that potential could be realised and perhaps more importantly, is it being realised. Is participating in Slutwalk bringing more women to feminist activism? Are existing organizations gaining members through Slutwalk? Is Slutwalk strengthening women’s groups in their advocacy with police forces? Or, are women participating in Slutwalk and denying that they are feminists?  Do women who are walking see Slutwalk as a way to claim “I can wear what I want” – a fundamentally individualist claim – or do they understand/does Slutwalk encourage the conception that this is an issue which women can/should confront together.  Are women who participate truly deconstructing the word slut, or are they reclaiming that word but hanging on to the ideas which animate the misogynistic use of the word (ie., just because I’m wearing this doesn’t mean I’m a slut – but her, that girl, she’s a slut because….”). Are women who are walking recognizing differential vulnerabilities to sexual assault and supporting women who are the most vulnerable?  Has this helped mobilize action around sexual assault on campus – does it get back to the original inception at all?

I don’t think that this debate can be about being the feminism police at some kind of grand scale, but I think down in the details there are important questions to be asking and conclusions can be drawn from the answers.

OK, so the round up – in the form of the tweets I’ve put out linking to various things.

It’s a really short roundup, I’m hoping people will contribute the best things they’ve read in the comments.

A critical take at The F Word (“We’re Sluts, Not Feminists: Wherein my relationship with Slutwalk gets rocky):

[blackbirdpie id=”67782506539266048″]

The organizers speak:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/OsgoodeIFLS/status/67783119671009280”]

Our Dean’s thoughts (yes, the Dean. I imagine him typing “slut” and my mind boggles. Reclaiming!?)

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/DeanSossin/status/68499347557466112″]

Margaret Wente (not a favourite of mine…) of the Globe and Mail enters the fray (she gets lots of mileage out of this – denigrating university students, immigrant communities, naive feminists, the media….) but she raises a good question about the nature of the media coverage. So another question: how do the organizers deal with media interest in Slutwalk(s)? Simply because the media can’t be controlled isn’t a good enough reason to condemn the organizers. But it’s something to think about in terms of strategy.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/BrendaCossman/status/68676739060072448″]

Here’s a debate on TVOntario’s the Agenda (three American women, Heather Jarvis, one of the Slutwalk organizers, and Kate McPherson, a York University Professor from history & women’s studies).

If you want more Gail Dines and Heather Jarvis, or prefer radio, here they are on Q,