Hundreds march through downtown Salt Lake to protest rape culture

Around 300 people marched from Washington Square to the Capitol building, holding signs and chanting to protest rape culture on Sept. 24 as part of the fifth annual Slut Walk—this year titled “The Walk of No Shame.” Despite the rainy weather, some stripped down to their underwear or wore short skirts or tights.

Slut Walk, SLC, a grassroots movement, hosted The Walk of No Shame, which was one of many similar marches across the country.

The event aimed to empower survivors of sexual assault, according to Rachel Jensen, director of Slut Walk, SLC.

“It is a goal to end rape culture and end victim blaming and slut shaming,” Jensen said.

In the past, the march has been called The Slut Walk, but Jensen said the organizers decided to change the name to The Walk of No Shame this year to make the event accessible to more people.

“We wanted to open the door and let a lot more people come to the table,” Jensen said.

Jensen and Stephany Murguia, the outreach and access coordinator for the Utah Rape Recovery Center, spoke to the protesters before the march began, and a local stand-up comic and slam poet told stories.

As the group marched through downtown Salt Lake City, protesters cheered and echoed chants.

“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, and no means no!”

“S-L-U-T, my body belongs to me!”

At the capitol, the group listened to speeches from Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Rep. Angela Romero, (D) Utah; Lt. Governor candidate Kim Bowman and gubernatorial candidate Mike Weinholtz.

One in three women and one in six men in Utah fall victim to some type of sexual assault—statistics Biskupski condemned in her speech from the Capitol steps.

“These numbers are stunning,” Biskupski said. “They are shameful. And as a country, we must end this culture.”

Biskupski came forward as a survivor of sexual assault, ending her speech with a call to action.

“I know what this is like, and I’m here to tell you we are in this together,” she said. “We will not be ashamed, and we will stand up and we will demand justice.”

Westminster sophomore and Feminist Club president Sabi Lowder attended The Walk of No Shame. Lowder said she was sexually assaulted while traveling in Europe, leading her to end her trip early.

“I’m okay, but it’s not okay that it happened,” she said. “I do remember saying no. There was absolutely no consent.”

Lowder said the man threatened her before he assaulted her.

“Girls don’t wear that kind of underwear unless they want to get fucked,” he said.

Months later, as part of the healing process, Lowder said she is ready to share her story.

“I find that it gives me more control to be able to talk about it,” Lowder said, “Now, I find it empowering to be able to control it in other ways.”

The importance of consent was one of the subjects emphasized in the march and speeches. Jensen said that for consent to be real, it must be given freely and enthusiastically.

“Consent is one of the biggest things that you can talk about to end sexual assault,” she said. “If we can start changing things from a rape culture to a culture of consent, then maybe we can end the vast amount of sexual assault that is happening and make this a thing of the past.”