‘Slut Walk’ aims to extinguish rape culture

By Marina Zupko
Correspondent

Students dressed in outfits ranging from alluring dresses to jeans and tank tops joined together in a march across campus on Thursday, Sept. 27. Slut Walk, an annual protest initiated by the Women in Learning and Leadership Program in 2013, works to raise awareness of campus rape culture and the fast-growing number of sexual assaults on college campuses worldwide.

WILL executive board members started off the night by speaking about the significance of the Slut Walk. Students then read their original poems about the stigma surrounding rape, handed out posters and began their march through campus.

Students rally in support of female empowerment. (Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor)

From flashy signs to empowering chants, the group of protestors was loud and full of energy. Onlookers were intrigued as the group chanted and marched through the rain.

“This was the first march I’ve been to with all of the chanting, but even if this was smaller compared to other marches, I still felt more empowered that everyone was together for the same cause,” said Billel Zughbi, a freshman public health major. “We had audiences looking out the window which definitely made the event known and helped to reach a wider audience.”

Participants felt that the Slut Walk is empowering and helps reinforce the College’s zero tolerance of sexual assault.

“TCNJ promotes the culture that will not tolerate sexual violence,” said Kiersten Newkirk, a senior communication studies major. “Events like this not only raise awareness, but show that there is a supportive community available to anyone who may have questions.”

Many students related the march to Christine Blasey Ford’s recent sexual assault allegations toward Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and his subsequent denial of her allegations.

Participants in the march said that this failure to believe victims is commonplace in rape culture, which has motivated people from all over the world, including at the College, to fight alongside Ford.

“This is our time to be loud,” said Genesis Vasquez-Peralta, a sophomore African American studies major. “At a time like this with the Kavanaugh versus Ford trial, we need to be loud. We were silent so many times. We need to be loud now.”

Sophomore biology major Elizabeth Nemec emphasized the need to continue efforts to end sexual assault outside of the Slut Walk.

“Social movements can die out quickly, but we want to show people that we won’t forget and will keep shouting until things don’t need to be fixed anymore,” Nemec said.