Walk of Power aims to shed light on sexual assault


Kent State’s Students Against Sexual Assault group finish preparing their signs before the Walk of Power on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. The group were marching to raise awareness regarding sexual assault and violence.

Sierra Allen Student Life

Kent State’s Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) held its first Walk of Power on Wednesday to promote Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The Walk of Power was inspired by the SlutWalk, a transnational movement of protest marches aimed at stopping rape culture. In the SlutWalk, participants strut in any garments they choose to protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s clothing.

“We were inspired by the SlutWalk, which is basically people dressing up in club clothes or skimpy clothes in order to basically say, ‘you know what, I may look this way, but I’m still not asking for it,’” said Madeline Anich, president of SASA. “How I dress isn’t a message to you at all.”

By naming the event Walk of Power, Anich hoped to take the idea of the SlutWalk and make it more inclusive. She believes that assault stems from a greater problem of certain members of society dehumanizing people and treating them as objects. She believes that freedom of expression should not be hindered by people’s fear for how society is going to punish them.

Anich aimed to make the event accepting of all genders and gender identities.

“If you have a non-binary person who wants to dress as a female if they are assigned male, they can do that. If you’ve got someone who feels uncomfortable wearing the niqab or the hijab in public, then they can come and do that with us,” she said. “It’s meant to be the Walk of Power—power to ourselves, power to our bodies and how we express ourselves.”

Haleigh Shammo, a junior applied conflict management major, feels strongly about women being blamed for assault due to their clothing.

“I think it’s bullshit and men should be held accountable for their actions regardless of how any kind of woman dresses,” Shammo said. “The way you look does not mean you deserve to be assaulted.”

Anich believes this event will be helpful to those who have been assaulted, as well as the general public, and aims to prioritize assault in a similar way as racism because of its importance.

The Walk of Power will help get rid of the stigma and the silence that’s commonly attached to assault and harassment so it will become more of a mainstream issue that people feel comfortable discussing.

Kaylee Hoppin, a senior public health major and previous secretary of SASA, is very proud of the organization’s ability to start the movement on campus.

“This was partially my idea, which I’m really proud of. It is really important because I feel like a lot of students don’t come out about their sexual assault and a lot of people still feel that depending on what you wear, you deserve to be assaulted—and no one deserves to be assaulted,” Hoppin said.

Sierra Allen is a student life reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].