458.2 Visualizing SlutWalk: Participants, the public and the media

Friday, August 3, 2012: 9:12 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Daniel GARRETT , Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong, North Point, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Angie NG , University of Passau, Passau, Germany
SlutWalk is a new global movement speaking out against the blaming by authorities and society of sexual violence and harassment towards women based on its victims' appearance.  Launched in Canada in 2011, SlutWalk protest marches and activism have spread globally, challenging 'rape cultures' and related mentalities while championing the empowerment of women and their right to personal safety and expression free from sexual intimidation and violation.  Adopting, reclaiming, and redefining the inflammatory label 'slut', the movement's hallmark protest marches encompass a diversity of expressive and provocative ideas, clothing and protest signs decrying sexual violence, women's oppression, and advocating for feminist and other out groups rights. Media, public and feminist responses to the incipient phenomenon has been controversial and varied - especially as the movement has moved into conservative and patriarchal societies in Asia and elsewhere where it has sometimes encountered aggressive, dismissive,  and contemptuous responses from those repudiating the calls for social justice for women and victims of sexual violence.  Even as SlutWalk defines itself, there are those who reject the movement and its message by attempting to derisively portray it and its members as deviants, objects of curiosity, and even, targets for exploitation.  This paper proposes to examine imagery and visual activism associated with SlutWalk as expressed in its marches, by its members, and the connected depictions in mainstream media and local communities where SlutWalk events have been hosted.  Though more expansive, the point of departure for this paper will be the December 2011 inaugural SlutWalk Hong Kong march.