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Amber Rose leads protestors gathered in Downtown L.A. for a Slut Walk

Amber Rose leads slut walk in Downtown L.A.

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Amber Rose leads protestors gathered in Downtown L.A. for a Slut Walk

Three young women pose with signs during the Slut Walk in downtown L.A.

Three young women pose with signs during the Slut Walk in downtown L.A.

Lynohila Ward | Daily 49er

Three young women pose with signs during the Slut Walk in downtown L.A.

Lynohila Ward | Daily 49er

Lynohila Ward | Daily 49er

Three young women pose with signs during the Slut Walk in downtown L.A.

Lynohila Ward, Staff Writer

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A feminist wave crashed into Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday as hundreds of people in shameless nudity, colorful body paint, star-shaped pasties and lace teddies gathered for a Slut Walk to protest sexual violence, victim blaming, derogatory labels and gender inequality.

Protesters made their point by dressing in revealing clothing and carrying signs with slogans such as “My Clothes Are Not My Consent” and “Sluts Don’t Cause Rape, Rapists Do.”

The Slut Walk as a movement started in 2011, when Toronto police officers speaking at York University reportedly told the audience that if women wanted to avoid being raped, they should not dress “like sluts.” After reading about the story in a university newspaper, co-founders Heather Jarvis and Sonya Barnett organized a rally and the Slut Walk was born, Jarvis said.

Protesters during the Slut Walk in Downtown L.A. wave signs.

Lynohila Ward | Daily 49er
Protesters during the Slut Walk in Downtown L.A. wave signs.

“It was a really small story, but it was the last straw,” Jarvis said. “Judges say this, people in the media say this, people in our educational institutions say this and the officer illustrated by saying ‘I’m not supposed to say this’ that he had training on not to say things like that. It just didn’t work.”

Since 2011, the volunteer-based movement has spread internationally, with the Amber Rose Slut Walk being just one of many in the last year.

Rose came into the public eye after her relationship with Kanye West. Rose has been publicly slut-shamed by former love interests, which led her to harness her celebrity power and bring awareness to an issue that she says all women are subjected to.

“I deal with equality issues all the time and I feel like a lot of women do too. But a lot of women don’t necessarily have a voice,” Rose said at a press conference.

The event attracted around 800 participants and featured a fashion show, a panel of speakers and live performances from singers Frenchie Davis and Marsha Ambrosius. The event also had an HIV testing truck, vendors, educational booths, art exhibits and food trucks. Interactive features included a “wall of no shame,” where participants shared their slut-shaming experiences and a photo booth.

“I’m here to represent that women should be able to dress any way they want and not be assumed to be a slut,” said Fire Temptress Lorelei of Los Angeles-based clown group Hella Klownz. “In the very same way that people can dress as a clown without being assumed to be a part of a circus.”

Sathina Camberos attended the event with her mother, Sandra Camberos, whom she convinced to accompany her even after her mother expressed hesitation because of the controversial name. Sandra said she attended to support her daughter and to be the change in what she views as generational differences.
“I remember my mom saying [the victim in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case] was asking for it because she dressed like a slut and I want to change that mentality for the sake of my daughter’s generation, ” said Sandra. “So I’m here supporting her and it is different from what I thought it would be; it’s empowering for women.”

Social media played a key role in the success of the event. Crowd funding website GoFundMe was used to collect over $55,000 in donations, Eventbrite allowed people to RSVP online and during the event, the hashtag #amberroseslutwalk trended worldwide. But the use of social media also heightened criticisms against the movement.

Attendees pose in front of the "Wall of No Shame" during the Los Angeles Slut Walk.

Lynohila Ward | Daily 49er
Attendees pose in front of the “Wall of No Shame” during the Los Angeles Slut Walk.

“The movement is great and the message is amazing,” onlooker Anabel Gulati said. “My concern would be is it going to attract people for the movement or people who just want to attract attention to themselves?”

Questions about Rose’s celebrity status and the sincerity of her efforts were also brought up during the press conference. Rose insisted that her participation in the Slut Walk was far from a media ploy for fame and revealed that she was not in any way being compensated for her involvement.
For co-founder Jarvis, there is no legitimate face of feminism and little fame that comes along with promoting it.

“Who wants the kind of hateful, degrading attention that comes with speaking out about sexual violence? This is not something that comes with a lot of joy and fame,” Jarvis said. “This is actually something that risks reputation because people are being honest about what they’ve experienced.”

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