Nine days from now, there will be a parade on my school’s campus. A parade of fishnets, push up bras, and lipstick. A parade of signs declaring “Take Back ‘Slut!'” and “My Outfit is Not Consent!”
People know I’m a feminist. It’s not something I’m shy to talk about (obviously). And without fail, I get that invite on Facebook to attend and people asking me if I’ll be participating. Like I’ve said since it started here three years ago- Absolutely not.
“Slutwalk” is a movement that started in 2011 in Toronto, after some misogynistic police officer said that women needed to avoid dressing like a “slut” in order to prevent assault. Ridiculous victim blaming from a shithead.
Soon after, nearly 3,000 women (most of them scantily clad) took to the streets to challenge victim blaming and “reclaim” the word “slut.” Sister events popped up in many different locations- my university included.
There is value in it’s message, definitely. Women are mad. Fuck yeah, they should be! Victim blaming is a degrading, traumatic thing to put a person through. As if it’s not enough to go through an assault, but then it’s got to be scrutinized and a victim made to feel somehow responsible. It’s shameful that it happens. It’s not right that we women feel so much fear. It’s not.
I’m mad about it. But I’m not going to yell topless about it. Honestly, to me it seems childish and people are much less likely to actually listen to the important issues being discussed. Do women have the right to dress any way they want? Of course! Will playing scandalous dress up make people really consider rape culture? No.
Below is a quote from Meghan Murphy about what she found looking at discussions happening on Slutwalk event pages:
I looked and looked for some mention of feminism, some alignment and acknowledgment that this was, indeed, a feminist issue and a feminist fight – a fight that has been being fought by women for decades. Instead what I found, over and over again was, not only a refusal to align with feminism, but often, an outright aversion to it. I saw numerous attacks on radical feminism and radical feminists and I witnessed the reinforcement of negative and untrue stereotypes about feminism (you know the ones: man-hating, misandrist, no-fun, sex-negative, etc). While I do believe the organizers had good intentions, desiring that Slutwalk be inclusive to all, it began to look a lot like the ‘funfeminist’ – NO NO WE’RE THE CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE FEMINISTS. THE FUN ONES. WE’RE OK. WE LIKE PENISES AND PORN AND LOOKING SEXY kind of feminism that, in the end doesn’t successfully challenge much of anything, and simply repackages sexist imagery in ‘empowering’ wrapping paper.
– Meghan Murphy
I know some people find power in re-appropriating slurs. I am not one of them. The word “slut” is so deeply rooted in the harmful virgin/whore dichotomy view of women’s sexuality. For me, the word is beyond salvaging and it would be a waste of time to try to. Trying to reclaim “slut” misses the real problems. I understand how effective shock value can be in getting attention paid to an issue. In this case, it feels cheap.
I’m not a prude. I’m not a slut. My sexuality is not a black and white caricature. Let’s put an emphasis on creating and celebrating authentic sexuality, not on showing what “liberation” looks like.
Let’s take to the streets! Not to reclaim the word “slut,” but to fight the rigid guidelines our sexualities are held to. March because rapists cause rape, not clothing choices or anything else. Because sexual assault is never justified. To challenge these sexual myths so deeply engrained in our culture. For equality.