Lauren Southern, a reporter with The Rebel, claims she got into a “huge confrontation” with individuals involved with the SlutWalk march in Vancouver after she held a controversial sign with the words: “There is NO Rape Culture in the West.” Southern claims the sign was ripped up and her cameraman was physically shoved by participants in the march.
The Vancouver SlutWalk, which took place on June 7 this year, organizes annually as a protest of rape, sexual violence, and victim blaming, with a heavy focus on rape culture. ‘Rape culture’ is a culture in which rape is pervasive, normalized, and acceptable due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Southern believes that there is no rape culture in the West as rapists are punished, fired, and hated. (Full disclosure: I agree with her)
The reporter, who has been with Rebel for two months, wrote in a post on June 9, “I went to a SlutWalk march in Vancouver to challenge the fear mongering narrative about men, women and violence.” “I simply held up a sign that said ‘There Is No Rape Culture In The West” — and the reaction wasn’t exactly positive…. So much for the SlutWalk being the ‘safe place’ it had been promoted as.”
In an email interview, Southern told me that she had seen a post about the SlutWalk a week before the event, and knew what would be happening there. “Especially after reading that they were protesting ‘rape culture’ – this is an issue that really gets to me. Women in the Middle East get stoned for the crime of being raped. While women over here have the gall to run around in bikinis talking about how a guy whistling at them is a symptom of rape culture. It’s either delusional or intentional fear mongering to push a feminist ‘women are all victims,’ anti-man, SJW agenda.”
Southern said that the morning of the walk she had no idea what she would write on the sign, but that before going she had been listening to YouTubers TL;DR and Sargon of Akkad discuss feminism and rape culture, and had gotten the idea from their content.
Leading up to the march, Southern was uncertain as to whether or not any confrontations would occur. “I figured I would either be entirely ignored, because it was my intent to just stand quietly the entire time until I was spoken to. Or that I would be mobbed, shouted at and ridiculed,” she said. “My questions didn’t seem to bother anyone much until they found out my opinions on the walk, and I didn’t really expect them to. My questions weren’t very aggressive in my opinion, but others may disagree.”
A six-minute video accompanied Southern’s post, and included some brief interviews. Southern asks one protester, who was wearing a crime scene tape bikini, how her outfit was stopping rape. “It’s my body and my choice, and I can wear what I want,” the young woman replied.
A statement on the SlutWalk Vancouver Facebook page reads: “As everyone who attended the rally knows, there was an intrusion by Lauren Southern and Rebel Media. Ms Southern claims not to be a feminist and that rape culture does not exist in the west. To this I say: feel free to bury your head in the sand and pretend that we have solved all our problems here, but the truth is that the majority of sexual assault survivors in Canada have not seen their attacker go to prison. It remains true that victims of violence are still blamed for their own assaults. Many of the people who have not seen justice were at the SlutWalk. Ms Southern is a candidate for the Libertarian Party, which is concerning to say the least. She clearly missed the part in the job description of a politician where they are supposed to represent the people, rather than bully, harass and attempt to silence the people.”
A woman going by the name of Margaret Haugen, who has the ability to post on behalf of the SlutWalk Vancouver Facebook page, claims she sent a letter to the Libertarian Party that expressed her concerns about Southern and Rebel Media. Haugen writes that Southern and her cameraman “infiltrated” the pre-march ceremonies by “posing as impartial members of the press.”
“She then proceeded to harass participants of the march and attempt to undermine the people who were speaking,” Haugen wrote. “She was quite aggressive and filmed people without their consent. Many participants of the march were sexual assault survivors who were retraumatized by Ms Southern’s insensitive actions.”
A person with access to post under the SlutWalk Vancouver account also compared Southern’s reaction to the request to “withdraw consent” following completed interviews to rape culture itself. In response to this, Southern told me, “I’m disgusted by their trivialization of rape. That they would compare a brutal rape to the legal act of using footage at a public forum.”
When asked about the request to withdraw consent, Southern says, “It obviously had nothing to do with the fact that they didn’t want to be interviewed. They wanted to find a way to demonize me because I disagreed with them and comparing me to a ‘rapist’ was a perfect opportunity for them.” Despite being legally allowed to use the footage, Southern respected their wishes and did not include clips of them in the video.
One of the girls posted images and brief video clips of Southern, however, which were taken without her knowledge (regarding the request to withdraw consent), along with tweets accusing her of “child pornography” because some of the protesters wearing bras and shorts during the march were minors. The post also claimed that Southern would be “illegally” using footage of the girl and her friends without their consent. “To make a point I asked this individual to remove the post she had made of me as well that was slanderous.” The girl’s response:
Image and name removed due to the age of the person in this conversation
Southern did say that one of the women she interviewed offered to speak with her after the walk, and even messaged her on Facebook. “Despite our obvious disagreement I find that sort of stuff very refreshing, it’s not often individuals are willing to have a calm discussion after an event like that. Generally they will just do what the rest of the feminists at the event did and try to harass me on Twitter.”
The woman in question claimed that only 10% of rapes are reported during her interview, to which Southern told me, “Even RAINN with its extreme bias/exaggerated statistics puts that number at 32%. So I have no clue where she got that from.” The woman claimed that the information came from women’s organizations, based on factors including phone calls for counseling. Most crisis phone calls, however, are anonymous.
According to recent global prevalence figures, the World Health Organization reports that an estimated 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence and/or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. The 35% includes a total combination of rape, sexual coercion, any act that leads to psychological harm or includes controlling behaviors, and other acts “directed against a person’s sexuality.” These numbers span from a low of 15% of women in Japan to a high of 71% of women in Ethiopia. No data is provided regarding similar violence against men.
Requests for further comment from SlutWalk organizers received no response at the time this article was posted.
Liz Finnegan is a soulless ginger with no political leanings. Pun enthusiast. Self-proclaimed “World’s Okayest Person.” Retro gaming contributor for The Escapist.
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