On September 6th, the city of Reno will holding its first ever SlutWalk. For those who are not familiar with the walk, the first SlutWalk was in Toronto in April 2011. The organizer, Sonya Barnett, created the event in part as a response to a Toronto police offer telling a York University safety forum, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Since then, SlutWalks have been organized in nearly every major U.S. city, as well in several countries around the world. I participated in my first walk back in New York City and was impressed and in awe with everyone’s open efforts to discuss rape culture and how to end such violence against women. For the last two years, after I moved back to Reno, I thought about the Biggest Little City’s progression and growth and how the city would be ready for a SlutWalk. There has been too many times in this city where I am verbally harassed by men driving by in cars or I’m called ‘a whore’ by a passing-by woman for the pair of shorts I choose to wear on a hot day or for a dress I wear out dancing. I know that I’m not the only woman in town who has been affected by negative words and its time to do something about it. It’s time to let voice be heard. It’s time to educate ignorant minds. It’s time to change.
I’m one of the leaders of the Reno Sex Positive (RSP) and we are the group who’s organizing this September’s SlutWalk. We are a non-profit that formed in March 2013 by our fearless co-leaders, Adam and Rocky. Our mission is to promote open sexual dialog in the Northern Nevada area as we welcome and promote acceptance of person representing all areas of sexual diversity including sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, body type, ability, age (adult) and choice of consensual sexual expression. We welcome straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals; as well as those who identify as gender fluid, asexual, polyamorous, monogamous and non-monogamous. At its core, the sex positive movement believes in the acceptance of all forms of sex among consenting adults. We believe that sex is healthy; that pleasure is good; and that intimacy helps bring people together. Reno Sex Positive holds bi-weekly discussions on a wide range of sexual and relationship topics including communication, slut shaming and love.
I’ve been involved with RSP since last winter. I was intrigued by the concept of the group and appreciated everyone’s open-mindedness. During the weekly discussions, I learned a lot about sexuality- that being sexual active was okay; that being a virgin was okay; that sexuality was different to everyone. I learned that sex and sexuality is not shameful– it can be talked about in the open with mature adults (thank you, Samantha from “Sex and the City!”). I discovered that all forms of sexuality are okay- (as long as you’re a consenting adult, of course). If you’re religious and are only having sex for pro-creation, that’s okay. If you’re in a bar and you want to hook up with that cute couple in the corner, that’s okay. If you’re single and you rather spend “some time” with yourself, that’s okay. If you had have 34 sexual partners, that’s okay. If you’re a virgin- even being one at a late age, that’s okay, too (yes, it really is! I wish I knew that when I was 22!).
Of course, I’ve received negative backlash from creating the walk and being involved with RSP in general (so many people have asked me to the change the name of the walk to something more appropriate- huh? Seriously, why?). I’m sure that people think the members of RSP are a bunch of horny nut jobs who go to swinger clubs and screw each other during our free time (not that there is anything wrong with that but no, I don’t that and I can’t see myself ever doing so). I’ve deleted comments on the SlutWalk Facebook page on how the idea of a walk is stupid- rape is going to happen no matter what. Instead of women walking and protesting, we should be learning how to defend ourselves. Although I understand where that viewpoint is coming from (I have taken self-defense courses before and I can throw a decent punch if need be), I want to live in a world where I don’t have to look over my should when I walk home late at night. I want to live in a world where I can get coffee for the shop around the corner and not be stopped by some guy sitting in his car, asking if I’m “available.” I want to live in a world where I can wear whatever I damn well please and not be slut-shamed. I want to be able to talk about sex as if doing so wasn’t taboo and considered “dirty” or “funny” or “promiscuous.”
To me, being sex positive is about acceptance and respect. Although there are a lot of sexual ideas I’m not into, I do respect others and the choices that they make. Just because I’m not into something, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or immoral. I’m all about the happy- sex makes me happy! And as long as that sexual activity and sexual awareness comes from a respectful place, I can be positive about that.
For more information about the Reno SlutWalk, please visit our Facebook page.