Recently, I attended a Slutwalk protest in Detroit. I had been anticipating it for weeks. I was so excited to see all the signs and the outfits. But the Slutwalk is so much more than signs and outfits. It's not just about women walking around half naked. It's about taking a stand against rape culture. It's about speaking out against victim blaming, slut shaming, transphobia, sexism, homophobia, racism; I can go on and on. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't just about women being proud to be sluts. It does play a part in it ,though. And I'm not mad about that.
Detroit's Slutwalk took place in Palmer Park. One of the bordering streets of Palmer Park, is Woodward Avenue and West Seven Mile. Woodward Avenue is a notable street for sex workers. Many transgender sex workers have lost their lives on Woodward Avenue and West Seven Mile, making it an important street to have the protest at. I remember one of the speakers asking everyone to have a moment of silence to think about all of the sex workers who had lost their lives on the street we were standing on. That was the first time I had heard about that. I remember riding past those women as a child. I never thought about how dangerous it was for them. I never realized how many had actually died on that street.
Counselors had took the time out to support the cause and to also provide support to people who could be triggered by the stories of the speakers. I will be honest and say that a lot of the stories about rape were triggering for me. I tried to hold it in and distract myself, but my friend encouraged me to talk to one of the counselors. The counselor understood that I was angry. She told me that attending the protest was a step forward to me, and I agree that it was.
Hearing stories from victims of sexual assault and domestic violence gave me mixed emotions. I balled up my fists from anger as I listened to the things they experienced. It felt like I would burst into tears at some moments. I also thought about how much courage it took for everyone to share their stories.
Screaming "Sexual assault is not our fault!" with the other protesters was empowering for me. We also screamed, "Who's streets? Our streets!" and it made me feel so happy. It felt better to know that I wasn't alone. There was no judgement. No one was there to spread violence and hate. The protest was filled with love and support. I hope to see more of it in the future.