More adoptees in the news. . .

Fridley Resident Organizes Slutwalk to Give Rape Survivors a Voice

Local rally and march is part of international movement.

October ends with Anoka’s parade of costumed marchers. Costumed walkers in the Oct. 1, 2011, SlutWalk in Minneapolis will have a much different message: Rape is Rape and No Means No and that the “rape culture” we live in needs to change.

Kimberia Sherva, one of the organizers of the event, is from Fridley and is a survivor.

Fridley Patch: You’re from Fridley? Are you originally from here?

Kimberia Sherva: I was born in Seoul, Korea. I was adopted and raised in Detroit Lakes and moved to the cities in my early 20’s.

Patch: And you’re 25 now?

Sherva: People ask that a lot. No, I’m 40.

Patch: SlutWalk Minneapolis has been getting a lot of press. How do you feel being thrust into the spotlight?

Sherva: Something like Sally Field in her Oscar acceptance speech “You like me, you really like me”.  It’s really important because of the message we’re trying to get out. There have been a lot of assumptions and perceptions about the name. There isn’t a problem with the walk but the way people feel about the word ‘slut’ before it. What we’re trying to say to people is ‘OK, we know it’s a hard word, but there’s a reason why that word was chosen.

Patch: You had an open mic night last night. Why did you feel that was necessary?

Sherva: We wanted to give rape survivors and victims of sexual assault a venue to talk if they wanted to. In any way shape or form, be it talk, sing, tell a story, read a poem, anything they felt comfortable doing, or just be there for support. It was a no pressure environment; no one was pressured to do anything. There was talking, there was sharing, and in the end, I feel it was very empowering and positive. There were moments when we cried, moments when we laughed, and there were moments when there were just hugs. It was wonderful.

Patch: How do you feel about the fact that you are going to have over a thousand people at your walk? There are over 1,300 registered on your website and many more who have replied with “maybe” on your Facebook Event page.

Sherva: It’s actually like a big old Christmas present. We’ve worked very hard to get the word out, about who we are and what we’re trying to do to get the message out. That many people validating it, that they believe that as well, it’s often terrifying that there will be that many people, but it’s also empowering and we hope that everyone looks around at everyone else, and they will, because I have something up my sleeve for the opening ceremony, where all will be saying ‘we’re in this together, this is so cool and awesome’, with connections, new friendships and new bonds being made, and all sorts of really positive energy from that amount of people.

Patch: This is very personal for you.

Sherva: It is. If a person has been raped once, it can be easy to escape the victim-blaming. But as a person who has been raped more than once, at some point in time it shifts towards What are you doing? What’s wrong with you? Why does this keep happening to you? There’s got to be something that you keep doing to—I don’t want to say deserve it—but to allow it. And no one allows rape. Not once, not twice, not 10 times, not 20 times. People need to understand that. And because of the way we’ve been raised—in a rape society—that person gets looked down upon.

Patch: I may be naive, but how does it happen that a person can be raped multiple times?

Sherva: Rapes happen between people who know each other about 85-90 percent of the time. When you look at that, you know that it’s a boyfriend, a husband, a friend, or a relative. That’s when those numbers start piling up. When you’re in a marriage where you’re being forced to have sex every night, 20 rapes is nothing. In an abusive marriage, that happens more than we know.

Patch: People have a problem with the term “Slut” in SlutWalk. Why?

Sherva: Because slut is such a triggering phrase, such a dirty word to use, why even use it? And that is our point exactly for using it. When you call someone a slut, you’re degrading them, you’re defaming them, you’re blaming them, and you’re shaming them. That needs to stop because it’s none of the victim’s fault. When you call someone that in a rape situation, you’re blaming the victim. When someone gets raped more than once, say in a long-term relationship or a marriage, they already feel enough shame, and calling them a slut because of that, surely isn’t going to help matters.

Patch: In that situation, though, would a woman be called a slut?

Sherva: The point we’re trying to make is that using that word to define a person who has been raped doesn’t define rape. Is a child a slut? Is an elderly person a slut? Is your mother, your aunt, your cousin, your best friend a slut? No? Then what gives people the right to call someone else that name, because when you call someone THAT name, you’re calling someone that someone else LOVES that name? Why would you want to hurt someone  by using that name at all and why would you want to BLAME that person for the rape or sexual assault in the first place by using that name as a weapon?

Patch: What can you say to a young man, in his teens or early twenties, to teach him and his peers how NOT to perpetuate the rape culture in our society?

Sherva: First of all, let’s say they’re going off to school to college and they go to a party, because that’s what happens, and let’s say there is a group of their guy friends and one of the guys says, “See that girl there, she’s kind of drunk, dude, I’m going to get lucky tonight.” What’s the thing to do? Teach those young men to step up and say, “Dude, you’d better not, don’t you touch her, and if you DO try anything and we hear about it, that we will testify that this is what you said and you’re gonna go to jail, so you’d better think twice.”

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