Capturing Consent in the City Streets

Who’s more likely to be attacked on their walk home—a woman in baggy jeans and sneakers or a woman in a mini skirt and heels?

The answer shouldn’t be so obvious.

Last weekend, dozens of Vancouverites dressed in everything from formal business suits to sexy undergarments for the annual SlutWalk Vancouver. The march protests a woman’s right to wear what she pleases without the fear of being sexually, verbally or physically harassed.

“Attitudes are changeable…It doesn’t matter what she wears-sexual assault is the crime,” two attendees, Ariana Barer and Jordan Pickell,  told The Province.

SlutWalk Vancouver(Photo courtesy of The Province)

The SlutWalk originated in Toronto in 2011 after a city police officer told a crowd of York University students that “women should avoid dressing like sluts,” in order to prevent assault. Three young women then banded a small group of people together to protest down College Street as a response. Since then, the walk has expanded to cities all over the world, including Sao Paolo, Brazil and Seoul, South Korea, and continues to echo its determined message.

This year’s SlutWalk Toronto is scheduled to take place during Pride Week at the end of June.

In the meantime, Torontonians have been making moves to create a safer and more aware city. Earlier this spring, the Street Talk Project swept through Toronto to spark a necessary conversation about preventing sexual assault against women and gender non-conforming individuals. The project commissioned the works of seven local artists who created 18×22 aluminum pieces that mimic typical city street signs.

“Using humour and subversive advertising, The Street Talk Project brings attention to the ways in which public space is navigated differently by different bodies,” reads the website’s description.

Messages such as, “Exist As You Wish,” and “Only Green Means Go: Please keep unwanted words, hands and stares to yourself at all times,” aim to discourage individuals from catcalling and heckling women and trans people.

The installation was posted throughout Toronto’s bustling Kensington Market, where the Street Talk Project team believed it would get appropriate attention. Following the street display, the installation was moved to Whippersnapper Gallery in Kensington. To see the pieces now, or to learn more about the installation, you can visit their website at http://www.streettalkproject.com.

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(Photos courtesy of the Street Talk Project)

 

 

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