The SlutWalk Comic Project
How has the anti-rape movement SlutWalk travelled globally since 2011, and what are its key aims, goals and strategies?
2011 may well be remembered as the year of revolution in Egypt, the Indignados movement in Spain, and the Occupy Movement in the US. But 2011 also saw the emergence of a highly visible new protest movement dedicated to raising awareness of gender-based violence: SlutWalk.
The inaugural SlutWalk took place in Toronto, Canada in response to a police officer telling female university students that they could avoid rape by ‘not dressing like sluts’. Angered by how this comment perpetuates the myth that women are ‘asking for it’ by their choice of dress, Toronto activists Heather Jarvis and Sonya J F Barnett organized a public march to the Toronto Police Headquarters using social media to protest this form of institutional victim blaming.
Over 3000 protestors turned up. With its provocative name and the appearance of some in ‘slut garb’, SlutWalk quickly captured the attention of mainstream media channels and the blogosphere. Resonating with concerns about rape culture and the normalisation of sexual violence on a global level, SlutWalks began to mobilise. Activists have since organized over 250 satellite marches in fifty countries between 2011 and 2015.
The SlutWalk Comic draws on Dr Red Chidgey’s research project, ‘Digitally Mapping SlutWalks’. Individual marches across six continents have been documented on an open-access archive at www.grassrootsfeminism.net.
The SlutWalk Comic Project seeks to create an original teaching resource from this research, namely, a comic demonstrating the origin, aim and spread of SlutWalks transnationally and a series of ‘postcard provocations’ bringing together key critiques and controversies of the movement. These resources are publicly available under a creative commons license for use by educators, journalists, activists and community groups. The outputs are designed both to provoke debate and to visually document the highly contentious and mediated SlutWalk movement.
The project was devised by Dr Red Chidgey, Lecturer in Gender and Media, Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, King’s College London. Her PhD (London South Bank University) examined the conditions through which dominant feminist memories travel as economic, aesthetic and political resources, and proposed a new analytical framework for understanding cultural memories as assemblage formations.
Red collaborated with the Dr Elke Zobl and graphic artist Jay Bernard. Elke is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, University of Salzburg and was co-editer of the book Feminist Media - Participatory Spaces, Networks and Cultural Citizenship published by Transcript in 2012. Jay's work includes '100', a London-wide three-site installation commissioned by TFL, book and magazine covers and features in publications such as Wasafiri and MsLexia. Jay can be found at @brrnrrd and www.jaybernard.co.uk.