Slutwalk is the result of women fighting back against the idea that what you wear will determine whether or not you are raped.
It all started with Toronto Police’s lecture to women, saying that “…women should avoid dressing like sluts” to prevent being raped. Women of Toronto fought back by organising a protest which they named “Slutwalk” as a hit-back to say that it doesn’t matter what you wear – if a man is going to rape you, he will do it regardless of your attire.
The concept is multifaceted and has cause a disturbance with feminists and non-feminists alike with the idea that we are to reclaim the word “slut” in order to take it’s power away as a slur on women. I’m going to discuss fully why I think this is a good and feminist idea, and healthy debate is welcome in the comments. (Misogyny will just be deleted though. So no stupit folk, plx)
Okay. What’s the deal with the event? The even itself is a march. It’s purpose is to all say the same thing, which is to reject the idea that a woman can bring rape upon herself. Particularly through means of the way she dresses, which is one of the most common scapegoats for why rape happens.
Slutwalk aims to bring attention to the fact that men rape because they want power. Sexuality and attraction does not even come into it. A man will rape whomever he feels he needs to teach a lesson to or beat down. It is a tool of war and abuse and should be seen as nothing less.
To call a woman a slut is to imply that she should be ashamed of her sexual behaviour. Why is this an issue to anyone other than her? The simple fact of the matter is that it is not. A woman should be free to have sex with whomever she chooses and not be judged for it. It is a product of nation-wide misogyny that a woman should be “Slut-Shamed” for enjoying sex and having it when she likes. Sex is not a bad thing, and it’s just a way of keeping us miserable that it should ever be deemed a bad thing. But the freedom in it should be choice. Not doing it only a certain way, or with certain numbers or certain people. Slut, and all it’s variations (Whore, ho, cow, slapper, tart…) are words that have been put into play to beat women down. To put a woman lower than all the other woman. Everyone knows that the best way to oppress a group is to make lots of in-fighting happen. Women call other women these names because they have been told to, as a mechanism for creating levels of shamefulness and hatred.
We as women need to see that if you are called a slut, it is because you are a woman who is not living up to the male expectation of how you should live your life. Slutwalk aims to bring women together to say that if someone calls a woman a slut, they are calling all women sluts.
This brings me seamlessly onto the concept that’s got everyone talking – reclaiming the word ‘slut’. History has shown success in oppressed groups taking words back off the privileged and robbing them of their power. Black people in America were branded with the word “Nigger” as a way to dehumanise people, and thus making it much easier in people’s minds to treat them less than human. The same goes for the word “slut”. If a woman is thought to be less than a human, someone who makes bad decisions and deliberately puts herself in harm’s way, it makes it easier for people to accept that someone has raped her and that she somehow brought it on herself and to treat her badly.
However, Black Americans took back the word “nigger” and began to use in in their own way, as a word to refer to a peer and thus disabling in in it’s use against them.
The same goes for examples such as the word “queer”, while it’s still early days and there’s a huge amount of work still to be put itno LGBT issues and gay rights, the word “queer” has it’s own meaning within the LGBT community. People use it to in a sense, non-describe their sexuality, to say that they do not conform to straight ideas of a “normal” gender binary.
A lot of people have raised issues about the word “slut” being reclaimed, and this is not to be taken lightly or disregarded. Women have been harmed by this word, their lives destroyed and their reputations been stomped into the gutter by vindictiveness about their sexuality. That is an issue to be respected. However, the reclamation of the word does not mean that we’ll simply use it in the same way, to describe promiscuity or even immediately start using it. The de-powering process is long and will take a lot of work from people who care about women’s rights and want to stand up for those who are oppressed. The starting point for this reclamation can in fact be, the simple act of protesting in Slutwalk. Showing that women cannot be singled out as being shameful, if one of us is a slut, then we sick together and all take the insult.
Another point made by Slutwalk is that what the Toronto Police Force say and what the opinion of the sexist majority think about rape – it happens late at night in dark alleys. This is a huge misconception. These things do happen, but rape is overwhelmingly happening in people’s families and homes. The statistics show that around 80% of cases are by someone the victim knew well, such as a friend, family member or partner. It is important to highlight this fact and stop dwelling on the idea that rape is something that happens to someone, comitted by a bogey man and start looking up to the reality that men rape. These men are husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, friends, grandfathers etc. Rape is committed by men who want to over power women. The reason that the media portrays rape as a bogey-man is that people raped by men close to them will be less likely to report it for many complicated reasons, and this must be respected.
If you agree with what Slutwalk aims to do, then find out if there is one near you and step up to protest the continuing abuse and oppression of women everywhere. Slutwalk Glasgow will be happening on the 4th of June, from 1pm to 4pm hopefully starting at George Square. Bigger numbers mean louder voices, and we need all the noise we can get to uproot this deep seated hatred of women.