An Open Letter from the Organizers of SlutWalk Philadelphia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: An Open Letter
We, Katie Bellis, Jake Aryeh Marcus, Nicole Roselli, and Hannah Altman, do issue this statement as leaders in organizing the SlutWalk movement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
We condemn and renounce any and all expressions of hatred and discrimination based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, creed or religion that have occurred in conjunction with or as a result of our walk in Philadelphia, or any of the other walks around the world. We would especially like to disclaim the racism exhibited in the sign carried by the person who walked in SlutWalk NYC, which bore the John Lennon and Yoko Ono song title “Woman is the Nigger of the World.”
We in Philadelphia have made efforts to be inclusive to all, but acknowledge that the work we have done has not been perfectly inclusive and that there is yet much work to be done to make future SlutWalk Philly activities and events safe, ideal environments. We pledge to hold intensive discussions, to which all will be invited to participate, in which we will address myriad issues relating to racial issues especially, including whether or not the word “slut” is the appropriate label to represent the experiences of a diverse population, and what other measures can be taken to make the overall experience of the SlutWalk one which is more universally representative of the human experience. We pledge to then act on the resolutions and solutions reached in these discussions.
While we hesitate to embark on any form of censorship, we do however, need to create a safe space, and therefore will not tolerate hate speech. As much as possible we would like to encourage free speech and open, honest dialogue, and part of that is allowing a multiplicity of viewpoints. We hope to engage in discourse with those whose viewpoints do not agree with our own in order to educate and possibly help to eradicate hatred and discrimination in our “City of Brotherly Love” and elsewhere.
We feel it is especially important that we, as white women, acknowledge that racism has been a stain on the way that SlutWalks have occurred in our city and other cities, especially in the United States. As white people, we are often hesitant to address racial issues so as to avoid the danger of offending those who we would seek to defend. If we have seemed to be slow to act, it is because we four women are doing the best we can in balancing SlutWalk with the rest of our lives, and learning as we try to help push this positive movement forward. We pledge to keep up the good fight and never stop spreading the message at the heart of what we are doing – Rape and sexual assault are never the fault of the victim. Rape culture must come to an end.