Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Cathryn Bailey

Second Advisor

Susan Freeman

Third Advisor

Nicholas Andreadis


SlutWalk is one of the most prominent movements in current feminist activism. Because it attempts to reflect feminist attitudes regarding sexual assault, and because feminism aims to end violence against all women, the movement’s main underpinnings must be analyzed through a racial lens. While many critiques on SlutWalk’s inadvertent focus on white women have arisen from the black feminist community, I address white women’s responsibility for understanding these critiques and ending racism within feminism. The central questions guiding this research are as follows: What are the racial implications involved in sexual assault that are ignored by SlutWalk’s message and activism? How has racism within the movement been illuminated by black feminists, and what are the solutions to creating a more dynamic activism? As a participant in the Grand Rapids SlutWalk, I observed first hand the racial dynamics that have been detrimental to the movement. This paper looks into how SlutWalk manifests the white dualistic thought that pervades Western culture. Critiques by women of color are looked into, especially from black women, as these women have been the most vocal on the issues. I analyze what the SlutWalk movement as a whole has claimed to do to ameliorate racism, and how they have succeeded and failed in their promises. Historical contexts and black feminist theory are examined to understand how sexual assault is a raced and gendered issue. This research discovers a deeper contextual understanding of how race and gender intersect regarding sexual assault. An integrated discourse on race and gender will lead to a more complete theoretical groundwork in eliminating sexual assault.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted