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Abstract

In the past two years the term "slut" ricocheted through the North American media and showed up on signs and banners on every continent as young feminists and their allies launched a series of demonstrations under the name of SlutWalks. In January 2011, a Toronto police officer told students at York University that if women wanted to avoid rape they should not dress like sluts. This incident sparked international outrage, with protests spreading quickly throughout the world, and revealed the misogyny and victim-blaming vitriol that characterize contemporary patriarchal culture. In the wake of the global SlutWalk movement, important questions have emerged about "reclaiming" the word "slut," whether this form of protest effectively challenges rape cultures, whether it promotes sexual agency while deploring slut-shaming, and whether it reflects the aspirations of women of color who face different historical and cultural realities without the cushion of white privilege. Using the theoretical framework of transnational feminism and drawing on social-movement research, the goals of this paper are to examine the global SlutWalk movement and to interrogate its significance as a resistance strategy that challenges patriarchal attempts to control women's sexualities through sexual violence and slut-shaming.

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