Provocative signs and provocative clothing were seen marching in a 'SlutWalk' protest in the streets of Downtown Tampa on Saturday.
The name of the protest is about as provocative as the signs and clothing of some of the protestors
"Don't tell me how to dress. Tell them not to rape," one protestor's sign read.
SlutWalk Tampa organizer Charli Solis said the word slut is uncomfortable, but it draws attention to the purpose of the protest.
"It's uncomfortable to say (slut). It's not a nice word. But sexual assault is uncomfortable, and it's not nice, and it's not pretty," Solis said.
The first SlutWalk protestors took to the streets of Toronto on April 3, roughly two months after Toronto Police officer Michael Sanguinetti suggested “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.
The officer’s thoughts on the issue ignited a campaign by a group of women in Toronto to effort reclamation of the word slut from being a derogatory term.
The movement is so serious about reclaiming the term, protestors have taken the provocative and intriguing step of calling themselves sluts as the marches spread around the globe.
“Whether a fellow slut or simply an ally, you don’t have to wear your sexual proclivities on your sleeve, we just ask that you come,” SlutWalk Tampa said on their Facebook page.
The movement is predominately an uprising and ‘out-speaking’ of female 20-something educated, empowered feminists, but Solis said women and girls -- and men -- throughout the age, moral and belief spectrum protested at Tampa’s SlutWalk.
The purpose of SlutWalk, Solis said, is to invigorate the debate that will bring sexual respect for women and usher in the understanding that sex sells because it is a basic human experience that should be embraced, not abused.
18-year-old FSU student, SlutWalk Tampa speaker and rape survivor Teagan Alexander said she goes to clubs, likes to go out and likes to look pretty.
Alexander explained she was a victim of sexual assault roughly 10 months before she posted her YouTube video entitled “My Dress is NOT A yes!” on June 22. “Just because I like to wear a tight black dress, it’s not an invitation to have sex with me,” Alexander said in the video.
She also stated she is a “virgin” -- physically throwing up air quotes to emphasize “virgin” because of her rape experience.
Alexander said some women might wear tight jeans with a red thong sticking out, but just because they dress provocatively, or lack full body clothing, does't mean men are granted a free pass to sexually assault them.
As an example, Alexander suggested in the video for some considering sexually assaulting a woman to go to a beach, look at a 13-year-old in a bikini and ask themselves if the provocative dress and lack of full body clothing would be attractive and give them permission to engage in sexual activity with the girl.
It is an unsettling thought Alexander and Solis felt should be the thought that goes through the mind of any person considering sexually advancing on another person.
Some onlookers passing by the protest said the name of the march is a little shocking, but it definitely did what the marchers set out to do -- get their attention.
"Slutwalk. Yeah, that's a little startling, but I like it. It's a very personal thing for these people to come here," onlooker Shanin Shapiro said.
And it wasn't just women joining the protest. Several men joined in the protest to show their support and to show that men are victims of rape, as well.
"How can you actually stand there and blame the girl for such an atrocious act?" protestor Michael Reed said.
“I love that fact that people are talking about things like this that have never talked about this before. I love that somebody may have saw it in the newspaper or on TV, and they went home and said at dinner, ‘Oh my God, did you hear about that SlutWalk? And they’re talking about it.”