The following is a press release received from Christina Kuhlman, a participant in the SlutWalk protest that took place on campus last week:

Orlando, Monday, April 18, 2011 – Students raised eyebrows and awareness today, as they protested against sexual violence at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the second largest university in the nation. The demonstration was inspired by Toronto’s SlutWalk, which took place on April 3, and is one of many emerging international Satellite SlutWalks.

The movement was triggered when a Toronto Police representative speaking at York University said, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The purpose of the SlutWalk demonstrations is to remove the blame of sexual assault from its victims, who are often reprimanded for provoking their attacks. Its message is that no one, regardless of his or her style of dress or behavior, deserves to be sexually aggressed against. Some students protested in normal dress, while others proudly marched in tight dresses, high heels, and sheer blouses.

The SlutWalk demonstrations also aim to re-appropriate the word “slut,” using it as an empowering term rather than a derogatory one. “Slut pride,” some shouted, while others held signs that read, “Slut power,” and “Reclaim the word slut.” Student reactions were mixed. While some passersby insistently avoided eye contact, others cheered in approval. One young man from another student organization even chanted along with the protesters on his loud speaker as they marched past.

The SlutWalk at UCF consisted of about a dozen students, male and female. Although it didn’t quite match the 3000 participants of the Toronto demonstration, what it lacked in number it made up for in volume. “No means no,” they shouted, as they marched from the Student Union to the Reflection Pond, a large fountain regarded as a campus landmark. Other chants included, “We’ve had enough,” “Stop victim-blaming,” and “We love sex, not assault.”

The spirited demonstration intrigued onlookers to say the least. “A surprising number of men approached us for information,” says Christina Kuhlman, a senior psychology student and participant in the protest. It is estimated that approximately 9 in 10 rape victims are female. SlutWalk seeks to hold aggressors, rather than victims, accountable for sexual assault. Says Kuhlman, “It was inspiring to see young men standing up for women’s rights.”

Photo credit to Kimm Gutierrez