SlutWalk in Union Square Protests Blaming Victims of Sex Attacks

By DNAinfo Staff on October 2, 2011 10:47am  | Updated on October 2, 2011 11:23am

By Marina Lopes

Special to DNAinfo

MANHATTAN — Dressed in a black lace corset, white boy shorts and a garter, 21-year-old Tameka Eastman led some 2,000 women down Broadway for SlutWalk, a grassroots movement working to end rape victim-blaming.

"We want to send a message that no matter what you are wearing, you are not asking to be raped," Eastman said.

The march came on the heels of a report in the Wall Street Journal that a cop told a pair of women in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, where there have been a series of sex attacks, that their clothing could make them targets.

The officer allegedly told one woman her clothes "could make the suspect think he had easy access," according to the Journal.

The SlutWalk protesters marched from Union Square to East 3rd Street, chanting, "However I'm dressed, wherever I go, yes means yes and no means no."

Some women donned more unusual outfits. Instead of taking her clothes off, Anna Zaccardelli, 21, decided to layer them on.

Dressed as Hester Prynne, the exiled puritan hero in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," Zaccardelli said she was inspired by the character, who she called "the original slut."

"Rape didn't start today," she said. "I am here today to say that clothing doesn't cause rape."

Many men joined the march as well.

Some women used the march to denounce the reported incident in Park Slope.

"NYPD, target rapists not me," the protesters chanted in response.

"It is incomprehensible," Twig Capra, 19, originally from Texas, said of the alleged Park Slope incident. "They need to place the blame where it lies. Their time is better spent catching the rapist than stopping women on the street."

Regarding the reported Park Slope incident, Paul Browne, the NYPD's chief spokesman said: "The NYPD has no opinion on attire. In much the same way we would alert the public to other elements that attacks had in common, investigators have pointed out that as part of the this pattern most of the victims were targeted at night and wore skirts or dresses."

A law enforcement source said that that in the pattern of 10 unsolved attacks, the suspects reached up under the victims' skirts or dresses.

The SlutWalk march was held in the 9th Precinct in defiance of a December 2008 incident in which two NYPD officers, Franklin Mata and Kenneth Moreno, were accused of raping a woman they were called to protect. The officers were acquitted of the charges in May.

Allison Guttu, 35 of the National Women's Liberation, said that words like "slut" and "whore" are symbols of a society of male supremacy.

"When women's liberation is won, the word 'slut' will disappear," she said.

But the Black Women's Blueprint, a civil rights organization geared towards black women, criticized SlutWalk for trying to re-appropriate the word 'slut.'

"As Black women and girls, we find no space in SlutWalk," they wrote in an open letter to the group.

"As Black women we do not have the privilege of calling ourselves slut without validating...recurring messages about what and who the Black woman is."

Black Woman's Blueprint urged the group to change its name.

The march was also a gathering place for victims of sexual abuse, who urged greater comprehension from the police.

"I am a second generation victim of sexual abuse and assault," said Chloe Harrison, 20. "The fear of reporting ends with this generation. I don't want to see my daughter suffer in the same way."

With Tom Liddy

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