For those of you yet to be persuaded to join in the SlutWalk festivities this Saturday 28th May at the State Library, here are some excerpts from SlutWalker Jaclyn Friedman’s talk at the Boston, Massachusetts event, from Feministing:
“Is a slut a girl who has sex too young? With too many partners? With too little commitment? Who enjoys herself too much? Who ought to be more quiet about it, or more ashamed? Is a slut just a woman who dresses too blatantly to attract sexual attention? And what do any of these words even mean? What’s too young, too many partners, too little commitment, too much enjoyment, too blatant an outfit? For that matter, what’s a woman, and does a slut have to be one?
“… You can call us that name, but we will not shut up. You can call us that name but we will not cede our bodies or our lives. You can call us that name, but you can never again use it to excuse the violence that is done to us under that name every single fucking day.
“… We can be called sluts for nearly any reason at all. If we’re dancing. If we’re drinking. If we have ever in our lives enjoyed sex. If our clothes aren’t made of burlap. If we’re women of colour, we’re assumed to be sluts before we do a single thing because we’re ‘exotic.’ If we’re fat or disabled or otherwise considered undesirable, we’re assumed to be sluts who’ll fuck anyone who’ll deign to want us. If we’re queer boys or trans women, we’re called sluts in order to punish us for not fearing the feminine. If we’re queer women, especially femme ones, we’re called sluts because we’re obviously ‘up for anything,’ as opposed to actually attracted to actual women. If we’re poor, we’re gold diggers who’ll use sex to get ahead. And god forbid we accuse someone of raping us—that’s the fast track to sluthood for sure, because it’s much easier to tell us what we did wrong to make someone to commit a felony violent crime against us than it is to deal with the actual felon.
“You know what I expect will happen when I’m dressed like a slut? People will want to get with me. You know what I don’t mean when I dress like a slut? That anyone I encounter can literally do anything at all they want to me. I know. It’s shocking. Because clearly you thought me wearing my tits out like this gives every single one of you carte blanche to do anything whatsoever you might want to do with my body. I’m very sorry to disappoint.
“… I just want to point out how ridiculous it all sounds when you spell out the meaning of ‘she was asking for it.’ Because the rapists are not confused. Those tiny percentage of guys doing most of the raping? They’ve told researchers that they know full well they don’t have consent. It’s the rest of us that seem confused. We’re the ones that let them off with a little ‘boys will be boys’ shrug and focus our venom on ‘sluts’ instead, leaving those boys free to rape again and again.
“… There’s nothing wrong with being a slut. Not a thing. It’s OK to like sex. Sex can be awesome. It can be life-alteringly awesome, but even when it’s not, it can be a damn good time. Our sexual desire is part of our life force. And as long as you’re ensuring your partner’s enthusiastic consent, and acting on your own sexual desires, not just acting out what you think someone else expects of you? There’s not a damn thing wrong with it. Not if it’s a hookup, not if you’re queer, not if you like it kinky, not if your number’s too high. If you’re playing on your own terms and you’ve got an enthusiastic partner? Please, I beg of you, just have a fucking awesome time. Our lives are way too often full of struggle and pain. If you can do something with someone else that brings both of you pleasure and joy? You’re increasing the pleasure and joy in the world.
“There has been a lot of misunderstanding about the meaning of the SlutWalk, and none more egregious than those who claim our agenda is to encourage all women to be sluts. Whatever that means, our mission could not be further from that. Our mission here today is to create a world in which all of us are free to make whatever sexual and sartorial choices we want to without shame, blame or fear. If you dress and experience your sexuality in decidedly unslutty ways, and you know that there’s nothing we can do to make someone rape us, the SlutWalk is your walk, too…”
Never before (okay, this year) have I been so excited for something. That includes the multitude of costume parties I’ve been to this year.
About a month ago, I cottoned on to the buzz surrounding SlutWalk, an event spawned by Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, after they heard a Toronto police officer telling a rape victim that she wouldn’t have been attacked had she been dressed less provocatively.
The first march was in early April, and was met with great success. Other events have been staged in Dallas, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts.
Next Saturday 28th May, SlutWalk comes to Melbourne, and I am beside myself with excitement. The only rally I’ve ever marched in was when I was 15, for (or rather, against) nuclear power with my mum, sister and bestie. I wasn’t really informed enough to have views on nuclear power back then, and I’m still undecided about it. Obviously the disaster in Japan highlights the question mark surrounding the idea of nuclear power in Australia.
However, I do have strong views about slut-shaming, rape, sex and reproductive rights, and I will be immensely proud to walk alongside my fellow sluts, as we reappropriate the word, much like the gays have reclaimed “fag”.
Obviously, rape is not about how a woman is dressed or how much lust she inspires in men, regardless of what she’s wearing. Women are raped when they’re on their morning jog, walking to and from work, out at night in their nicest outfit, or in their home by a friend or family member. I resent the comments that police officer made, and I will be wearing my “sluttiest” outfit in protest. But I’ll be wearing it with a prim and proper bun.
To join the SlutWalk, visit their Facebook page.
Related: Apocalypse Now: 2012 Come Early?
Images via MamaMia.