Event: Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

Ralliers outside the State Library on Swanston Street.

Best. Sign. Ever.

Last Saturday the highly anticipated SlutWalk occurred in several Australian cities, and I attended the Melbourne event with my fellow anti-slut-shamer friend Laura (both of us below).

We rocked up in our sluttiest outfits, which you can see above, complete with permanent marker declarations of our proud sluthood to boot. Some of the other outfits we noticed were short skirts with knee-high skull print socks and customised Doc Martins, worn by event organiser Clem Bastow (below), lace dresses and gym gear, the latter of which adorned a short-haired tattoo fan with a body Tracy Anderson would envy.

Clem Bastow.

Monica Dux.

As Bastow commented when she gave one of the opening addresses, along with fellow event organisers Karen Pickering and Lauren Clair, and noted feminists Monica Dux (above) and Leslie Cannold, amongst others: “thank you, God, it looks like you’re going to rain on me”. But no one was gonna rain on our parade and, despite the chilly temperatures, we still walked tall and proud in whatever get-ups we chose to wear.

Dux said this is the beginning of a movement, which I have to disagree with. SlutWalk is not the beginning of a movement; it is part of the reignited battle to stop victim-blaming and slut-shaming based on one cop’s archaic musings on rape and how much a woman was “asking for it”. Here’s a fun fact: WE’RE NEVER ASKING FOR IT! (See Bastow’s sign, above). No matter how we are dressed, where we are, how much we’ve had to drink, or what we do for work.

Speaking of, I was really proud to see the representation of sex workers at the event, and president of the Australian Sex Workers’ Association, the Scarlet Alliance (represent!), Elena Jeffreys (above) spoke about her sexual assault and that even though she was paid for sex, she was not consenting to assault. Her opinions on the SlutWalk were really interesting and I hope they receive as much publicity as the negative perceptions of the rally have in the media.

In the days leading up to SlutWalk, I was embroiled in a heated debate on Facebook with a friend who disagrees with the SlutWalk. I think he confused—like a lot of people—the meaning of the SlutWalk with an excuse to get gussied up in a very risqué manner when, in fact, that was not at all what it was about. That didn’t stop protestors on the steps of Parliament House at the top of Bourke Street brandishing their “rape is horrifying, but so is immodesty” placards (above). Like one of the speakers (whose identity escapes me: should have used my BlackBerry voice recorder!) said: it’s not up to us to curb our behaviour (and that includes how we choose to dress) at the risk of potentially being sexually assaulted; it’s up to those who sexually assault to curb their behaviour!

I think most people against the SlutWalk had a problem with the use of the word slut. As Cannold said, “words matter…: … we won’t stand for one, the same one, being slung at us over and over again to demean and degrade us.” Lori Adelman, in a post on Feministing, said she didn’t agree with the term “slut” and that she “would much rather have attended a ‘Do Not Rape’ Walk”:

“I find that the term disproportionately impacts women of colour and poor women in order to reinforce their status as inherently dirty and second-class, and hence more rape-able.”

To me, “slut” is just a word. It meant as much to me to be called a slut when I was 12 as it does today; as they (and Rihanna) say, sticks and stones will break my bones but names can never hurt me. It’s not about the term “slut”, it’s about the backwards and extremely offensive views that go along with that word. As coordinator of the first SlutWalk in Toronto, Sonya Barnett, told Rachel Hills: “if he [the policeman] had said something else, we would have called it something else.”

The speaker who garnered the most attention, though, was transgendered man, Cody Smith (above), who had been raped both as a biological female, and as a trans man. There were tears a plenty during his speech!

It was nice to see such a welcoming, non-judgmental turnout of everyday men, women and children of all walks of life, wearing all sorts of garb, not just the fishnetted and cut-out body con dresses that certain attendees chose to wear (guilty as charged!). After all, rape is not about what you’re wearing, what you look like, what size you are, how old you are, what your sexual orientation or gender is, or any other denomination that you happen to belong to as a person. It is about the perpetrator, and nothing you can or cannot do will stop them from attempting to rape you.

As Smith said, it shouldn’t be the victims of sexual assaults’ responsibility to educate the general public on sexual assault and victim-blaming. And I thought the sexual revolution happened several decades ago: it shouldn’t be up to members of a fringe movement to educate the general public on the sexual rights of women to express themselves however they please without the threat of retaliation. In fact, feminism—which is what the SlutWalk was all about—shouldn’t be considered as on the fringe in 2011.

Related: SlutWalk.

So a Tattoo Makes Me Public Property, Huh?

Has Feminism Failed?

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is it Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?

Elsewhere: [Feministing] SlutWalk: To March or Not to March.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Ask Rachel: What Are Your Thoughts on SlutWalk?

Black and white images via Ali Ryan Photography.

UPDATED: SlutWalk.

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?

So a Tattoo Makes Me Public Property, Huh?

Elsewhere: [Feministing] “You Can Call Us That Name, But We Will Not Shut Up.”

[Facebook] SlutWalk.

Images via MamaMia.

Event: SlutWalk.

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?

So a Tattoo Makes Me Public Property, Huh?

Elsewhere: [Facebook] SlutWalk.

Images via MamaMia.