Fourth of July festivities were plentiful in Colorado this weekend, and many legislators practiced their retail politicking at parades, marches, firework displays and other photo opportunities. One event was not on Congressman Cory Gardner's itinerary, however: "Slutwalk 2011."
Hundreds of women and men in Colorado came together Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 to take back the streets of Denver and send two simple messages: rape is a violent crime, not a sexual act, and women never ask to be raped, no matter how they dress. Women do not invite rape by wearing scanty clothing anymore than wealthy men invite being robbed by wearing a good suit. Rape is a violent crime, and the perpetrators are solely responsible for their actions. "Slutwalks" like the one in Denver are being organized internationally, on various weekends throughout the summer, to bring these messages to every major city.
Gardner's comments about rape and abortion have gotten him into hot water with Coloradans over and over again. Recently, Gardner and other Republican lawmakers, including Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn, banded together to sponsor and support HR 3, a bill which seeks to redefine rape, in reference to the exclusion in the abortion funding ban for victims of rape and incest. (Apparently, the Republican party does not own a dictionary -- rape, by definition, is a sexual attack using force.)
Colorado is not the only state with legislators who "don't seem to get it." Florida Republican State Representative Kathleen Passidomo blamed the gang rape by 18 adult men of an eleven-year-old girl on the victim. Passidomo was quoted by David Edwards of Raw Story:
"There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gang-raped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute," Passidomo declared.
"And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it's incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn't happen to our students," she added.
The idea for Slutwalk Denver came from the original Slutwalk in Toronto, when a member of the Toronto police told a group of students, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized." The five outraged Toronto women took action, and the annual "Slutwalks" to end victim-blaming and the rape-culture, were born.
From the Slutwalk 2011 Facebook page:
The clothing a person is wearing is not an invitation to be sexually assaulted. It doesn't matter what someone is wearing, where they are walking, or how much they've had to drink -- the only person at fault is the assaulter. We are reclaiming the word "slut" in solidarity with people who have been blamed unfairly for being assaulted.
Men, women and children attended the event to send the message blaming the victim will no longer be tolerated in the State of Colorado. Some wore halter tops and short skirts, fishnet nylons, high heeled shoes, and large hoop earrings. Others wore tape covering their nipples and not much else. One man dressed as a nun, in full habit. Some men dressed in women's clothing. Many carried signs saying things like "My dick has manners" or "Make love not rape," and a young woman carried a sign which said, "I like sex -- just ask me first."