Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Sara Hayden


Feminism, Reclamation, SlutWalk, Social Movement, Synecdoche


University of Montana


The international SlutWalk protest phenomena emerged in 2011 in Toronto, Canada as a feminist movement determined to speak out against two key aspects of rape culture: slut-shaming and victim-blaming. SlutWalk protesters simultaneously advocate a sex-positive stance while lashing back at rape culture. This thesis examines SlutWalks as a form of modern protest that utilizes the Internet to create a membership of mostly young people working within third wave feminist theoretical frames. The role of online organizing is examined for its potential for globalization from below, and the limitations of the digital divide are explored. Additionally, the reclamation of “slut” is seen as a key rhetorical move of SlutWalk protesters. The author examines three forms of reclamation present in protest, and examines the potential and limitations of each. It is argued that SlutWalk uses synecdochal framing on two levels that both enable and constrain the protests. Issues of representation are explored as they relate to individuals at various standpoints and intersections with rape culture. It is argued that tensions between resistance and control exist, especially as they relate to individuals most marginalized and oppressed by discourses of rape culture. Overall, the author argues that SlutWalks revive consciousness-raising in the third wave of feminism and work to deconstruct oppressive discourses in society. However, the limitation of SlutWalk to speak for all women, especially women of color, is of serious consideration for imagining feminist futures that build coalitions and work in solidarity with other feminist organizing efforts.

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© Copyright 2013 Dana Whitney Underwood