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The Slut-pocalypse is Upon Us

August 5, 2011
by

Some recent radio coverage.


After so many years of preparing for zombies, it seems the conservative, basement establishment has a new and much realer fear – the sluts.

For those of you who do not know the background on the Slutwalk – a series of demonstrations that started in Toronto but are now held all over the world to assert the belief the blame for sexual assault lies on the perpetrator and not the survivor – please check out some background reading here and here. Also, be sure not to miss this piece by Heather Mallick.

The crowd gathering in front of Queen's Park, the provincial legislature.

Anyway, I was listening to this radio broadcast yesterday where genius diva Aisha Shahidah Simmons, a filmmaker who recently made, “NO! The Rape Documentary”, did an excellent job explaining the Slutwalk and its many motivations. Unfortunately, it became clear from the quality of the exchange thereafter that there is still a lot of progress to be made. I’d encourage you to listen to the broadcast in full, but here is a brief and mocking synopsis below.

The first of many excellent signs.

Host: “So, now that we’ve heard from Aisha about the types of stereotypes that these Slutwalks hope to eradicate – namely that the responsibility for sexual assault is not the survivor’s, no matter what she was wearing or how she acted, let’s hear from our listeners.”

Caller 1: “Yeah, I’m a school teacher and I see every day how girls wearing provocative clothing makes learning difficult for boys. They really get distracted. That’s why I believe in ‘The 3 B Rule: No boobs, no belly, no butt’.”

Response: “Well no, that’s exactly what we’re trying not to promote. Men need to be expected to control their own actions. The onus can’t be on women.”

Caller 2: “Hi, I’m a father of two girls and sexual assault is so prevalent for people of our racial and class background. While this discussion is nice in theory, pragmatically, shouldn’t my daughters dress conservatively so that they don’t get raped?”

Response: “Well no, that’s exactly what we’re trying not to promote. Women get raped no matter what they’re wearing. The only way to stop the problem is to focus the responsibility on the sexual assaulters.”

And so the merry-go-round continued for the remainder of the program.

Another excellent consideration.

The most interesting part was the participation and commentary of Salon writer and well-known Slutwalk disliker Rebecca Traister, whose position through the course of the dialogue softened somewhat. Indeed there are many knowledgeable and educated feminist critics like Traister who point out the Slutwalk’s messaging flaws, particularly that the Slutwalk focuses sexual assault too much around sexuality when the root cause is clearly power. Though this is true, the Slutwalks are providing a huge venue for discourse around sexual assault education – including the fact that power dynamics trump sexual ones for assaulters – that was previously non-existent. Anybody who goes to a rally will hear and see that the walks are brilliant and diverse and inclusive and educational. They’re also inspiring. As such, I’ve included in this post my pictures from the first Slutwalk in Toronto (where we love Slutwalks so bad, we’ll have them in the cold).

Leaving aside the irony of Disney's portrayal of women, an excellent point about Jasmine.

While I respect that smart and intelligent women want to further the sexual assault prevention dialectic in only the most ideal conditions, it is not worth the negativity toward the Slutwalks given all the good that they are accomplishing. Splicing feminist theory hairs would be a nice place for the movement to be at currently; however, the contemporary reality is that mainstream civilians are still amid wave I and wave II levels, and more broad-based public awareness is needed.

A shout-out to my sign and message - I was going for simple yet elegant.

Moreover if I may delve into the more aggressive wave XVIII-esque feminist discourse for a moment to respond to the hyper-sensitive critique around Slutwalk messaging, I would posit that growing respect for women’s sexual control/autonomy and re-appropriating terms like “Slut” is not unrelated to or unhelpful in the fight against sexual violence.

The shaming and discomfort around women’s sexuality are inherent to the perpetuation of sexual assault. Taking away society’s authority to denigrate women’s sexuality is key to increasing reporting as well as general understanding that sex should never be something that happens to women.┬áThat women are the active controllers of their sexual destiny is the right being demanded by the Slutwalk. Breaking down the harmful paradigm of women as gatekeepers and men as stormtroopers is the fundamental action call of the Slutwalk and it is absolutely relevant to ending sexual assault.

My favourite of all - from a woman who is a waitress and a hero.

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