There are many misconceptions about SlutWalk events around the country, but some of these negative comments go too far. Mallory Kruper finds the craziest comments made about this educational, pro-feminist event.
This past Saturday, August 10, D.C. held its third annual SlutWalk, an event protesting “blaming victims of sexual violence for the violence perpetrated against them.” The first SlutWalk was held in Toronto in 2011 to protest a statement made by a police officer that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” There have since been numerous SlutWalks held in cities, on college campuses, and internationally to promote the philosophy that, according to its website, “no one is responsible for violence perpetrated against them, no matter what they wear, who they associate with, or who they are.” Although many participants in SlutWalk choose to wear lingerie or revealing clothing, not all do because it doesn’t matter how much or how little skin is showing; no outfit, or lack thereof, makes you any more deserving of being raped.
While there has been copious support from the feminist movement, there have also been quite a few articles and comments made across the Internet criticizing it. Normally I would prefer to write an upbeat, positive article about the importance of SlutWalk and how inspiring it was for me to be a part of it. However, considering that there are still many people out there who do not fully understand the purpose of SlutWalk, I’m going to take this time to respond to seven of the most spirited and critical comments made about the event with the hope that this will help to clarify a few common misconceptions.
Before I dive into the criticism, it’s important to explain two key terms commonly used in these types of discussions: slut-shaming and rape culture. Slut-shaming is society’s attempt to control women’s sexuality by shaming them for their sexual actions. Rape culture, on the other hand, is when society begins to normalize or excuse rape, and is often associated with victim blaming and shaming. SlutWalk attempts to raise awareness of the problems created by slut-shaming and rape culture in hopes of creating a society where these constructs no longer exist.
With this understanding, here are …
The Top 7 Craziest Comments Made About SlutWalk DC
It’s not that we are choosing to self-identify as a “slut” in the (arguably) commonly-held negative sense. When we take part in SlutWalk, and even carry signs or write on our bodies that we are “proud sluts,” it’s because we are trying to take back the word “slut.” We call ourselves sluts in the same way that a kid who is bullied for being overweight might say, “So what if I’m fat? I’m still a person, and I’m proud of who I am.” By taking back the insult, he takes the power away from the bully. By taking part in SlutWalk, we declare that we are not going to feel ashamed about the way we look, about how our values may differ from others’, about our sexual history, or about anything else that society may claim makes us a “slut.” In doing so, we aren’t dehumanizing ourselves, but rather humanizing a label, showing the wide variety of people it can cover and proving why we need to end slut-shaming.
The big issue here is what exactly does it mean to act “ladylike”? Why does being a “lady” determine if someone deserves respect? Just because we may have slightly different values and may dress like “sluts” one day a year to protest rape culture and slut-shaming doesn’t make us any less deserving of respect. No matter how anyone dresses or how many sexual partners they have, everyone deserves respect!
If you are referring to how many SlutWalk participants dress, we are not trying to trivialize rape or assault by dressing like “sluts.” Instead, we are trying to prove that no matter how someone is dressed, they never deserve to be raped. You may also be thinking, ”No one is arguing that they deserve to be raped!” However, when a woman is raped people often ask if she was alone, what she was wearing, was she being overly friendly, when in reality, none of these make it in any way her fault. We would argue that anyone who rapes or supports rape culture is the lowest of the low.
4. These women are ugly Medusas in pumps, who complain about the violence of rape on campus but then turn around and support the violence of abortion. A set of breasts doesn’t make up for the lack of a soul. (via Spectator)
Oh really? I always thought breasts and a soul were interchangeable. Good to know. We aren’t hypocritical regarding the issue of violence; we believe in a woman’s right to make her own decisions in her life, whether those decisions concern her choice to have a child or to choose a sexual partner.
And we look damn sexy in heels.
5. I find this … to be just another example of the spoiled, rich, amoral nation that makes up the majority of people. The only reason a woman would dress like a slut, is to attract the attention of the opposite sex, and when such attention is attracted, they find insult and horror. (via Spectator)
Actually, this may come as a surprise, but women don’t dress like “sluts” to attract the attention of the opposite sex. They dress like that because they like the way they look. We dress for us, not you! And just because we dress a certain way doesn’t mean that we are asking for inappropriate attention. If you like the way we look, you can think about it, but as soon as you act on it inappropriately, your actions become your fault, not our outfits’ fault.
6. Lunatic radicalism is now considered normal, and sanity is regarded as “hate,” so that any man who notices a woman’s beauty (or prefers beauty to ugliness) is denounced as anti-woman and pro-rape. (via Spectator)
I almost don’t even know how to respond to this other than to say that what we believe in isn’t “lunatic radicalism.” We simply believe that there should be an end to slut-shaming and rape culture. We are open to genuine, sane debate about the issue, and I don’t think anyone at SlutWalk ever accused a man of being anti-woman or pro-rape for noticing a woman’s beauty. Now if a man thought it was okay to take non-consensual sexual actions just because he found a woman beautiful, then that would be different. What is important here is to really take a look at our message and avoid extremes.
7. The idea that having a “slut parade” will somehow reduce incidents of rape is ridiculous. seems the real point is to insist they can dress how they like & no one’s allowed to make judgments on them. also ridiculous. oh and spreading the idea that all men are potential rapists. now we’re past ridiculous and straight into scurrilous. (via The Other McCain)
We aren’t having a “slut parade” expecting it to magically make rape disappear; we are rallying together to protest rape culture in our society. We want to see an end to the idea that women are in any way responsible for sexual assault or rape as a result of their clothing or behavior. There needs to be less of a focus on teaching women to not get raped, and more of a focus on teaching everyone to respect each other and to always get consent before making sexual advances.
We aren’t naïve enough to believe that no one is going to judge us based on what we wear. There is a time and place for every outfit (or lack of outfit). In the context of SlutWalk, lingerie and revealing clothing was appropriate because it came with the message that “even if this is all I wear, I’m still not asking for unwanted sex.” It’s all about context.
SlutWalk is all about people trying to chance how our society looks at rape and uses the word “slut.” We are strong women (and men!) ready to take the world by storm and we’re not letting some insult hold us back. So what if you call us a slut? We’re choosing to be “proud sluts” because we are proud of who we are and the cause we believe in.