It was the summer of 2012, my sister sent me an invite on Facebook to attend this rally called Slutwalk in Riverside. I then googled “Slutwalk” to see what it was about and it’s a march organized as part of a movement protesting social attitudes that blame and stigmatize female victims of sexual assault. I saw that this march was taking place in different countries such as Europe, Asia, and India. It was very interesting so we decided to go and I brought my daughter with me to show our support. Once we got there we see 50+ people making signs and waiting for the rally to start. Before it started there was a speaker which was a high school girl talking about her experience with sexual assault and bullying in high school and how if anything like that happens you need to speak up and tell someone. After her speech everyone started to gather and were told the planned route we were going to march on. I look around and see many people of different races, people with disabilities and genders. It’s crazy to think that these types of things can happen to anyone, not just women. According to RAINN 1 out of 6 women and 1 out of 10 males are raped or assaulted each year. Sexual assault has no preference and we need to bring awareness to end rape culture and its stigma. Such as, if you wear something deemed “slutty”, it does not automatically give consent.
As we walked down University Avenue with our signs and as I pushed my daughter in her stroller many people began to yell out “yaaaaaaasss” and “fuck yeah!” out their windows. But along with this support I also received weird stares because I brought my daughter with me, but I didn’t really care. People honked their horns to show support and it made the crowd happy. We got a couple people catcalling and whistling because some of our rally members were dressed provocatively, such as fishnet stockings and bras, which just made the crowd chant “no means no!” even louder. As we walked you could hear many people chanting different things like “end rape culture “or “our body, our choice.” After marching for close to an hour we came to our destination and were told by the rally members that everyone was invited to join them down the street for water on this hot. Reading some of the signs were inspiring and made me empathetic towards their experiences which overall, made me even more open-minded. I was glad that my daughter and I attended this rally even though she had no idea what was going on. I wanted her to experience it and hopefully also inspire her to let her know that she is strong and that anything is possible if you try. I want her to feel like she matters and that she’s important.
Down the street we all met at Back To The Grind, which is a coffee shop, art gallery, and music venue in Downtown Riverside. We went in to grab some coffee, saw that there was a live band playing and vendors who had set up booths to sell their hand-printed shirts and other goods. As I was walking around browsing from vendor to vendor, I saw that one of them were a selling handmade zines. Zines are like magazines that are usually self-published and filled content chosen solely by the author/creator. This zine in particular was called “Riot Grrrl”, which is an underground feminist punk movement that began in the early 1990’s in Washington state. It is a subcultural movement that combines feminist consciousness with punk style and politics. It was a good reading, it was about how these women got inspired by the music they listened to such as bikini kill, Le tigre, and the gossip. These bands were fronted by female vocalists who used their platform to expose women to feminism. They wanted to make sure that their voices were heard and that their words would empowered women so that they might be able to do the same. They also talked about their experiences and the stigma women face every day. Such as the way a woman is supposed to dress, the lack of female politicians, views on rape culture, and how women are expected to be stay at home moms. There are still so many stereotypes that women continue to face to this day.
After walking nearly the entire day, I finally got the chance to lay down and reflect on this experience, I was exhausted. I finished reading through some of the zines I was given and felt truly empowered by that day’s experience. I hoped that everyone who participated in Slutwalk also felt this same level of empowerment and inspiration. Hopefully for those who did see our signs, were also curious enough to look into the meanings behind them. Especially younger girls, I want them to stick up for themselves or have their voices heard and be strong. I want rape culture to end so people can stop saying “you got raped because you were asking for it.” I wish that all the stereotypes and stigma women face every day can just disappear. I know it doesn’t take a day but I hope me marching in Riverside made somewhat of an impact on someone or even just letting them be aware of things that are happening in the world. I want everyone, not just women to know that rape culture is alive and we need to bring awareness to it and end it. This march made a big impact on my life, it made me more aware of things. It helped me stand up for myself, and let me know that women are enough and that we matter. It made me the person I am today. Finally, I turned off the lights, laid on my bed and put on “Rebel girl” by Bikini kill and went to bed.