“You Know Who the Sluts Are”: A Qualitative Analysis of the “SlutWalk”


In 2011, third-wave feminist activists initiated the “SlutWalk”, a protest march drawing attention to victim blaming and rape myths. The word “slut” has evolved within the context of a discourse of power and, by reaffirming categories of “good” and “bad” women, been used to justify sexual assault. The current study used three focus groups (men only, n= 2; women only, n= 7; mixed, n= 6 [3 men/3 women]) to explore Canadian undergraduate students’ views on the meaning and use of the term “slut”, and to gauge whether participants saw the “SlutWalk” as a valuable form of feminist political action. Data were examined using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results indicated that the term “slut” was perceived as negative; more applicable to women than to men; and based on having an “inappropriate” appearance and/or engaging in sex-related behaviour perceived to be “inappropriate”. The underlying message of the “SlutWalk” was sanctioned by discussants. However, support for the event itself was minimal suggesting that, contrary to opinions expressed by some academics, participants did not regard the “SlutWalk” as embodying a politics of re-signification.

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Morrison, T. , Bertram, J. , Ryan, T. and Bishop, C. (2014) “You Know Who the Sluts Are”: A Qualitative Analysis of the “SlutWalk”. Advances in Applied Sociology, 4, 180-189. doi: 10.4236/aasoci.2014.47022.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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