stopviolenceuw

Reclaiming Slut?

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2011 at 9:27 pm

     In January, a Toronto policeman informed a group of students at York University that in order to avoid becoming victims of sexual violence, women should simply “avoid dressing like sluts.”  Well, this comment has spun a worldwide campaign fighting the stereotype that a woman who dresses provocatively or “slutty” does not give consent to any amount of sexual activity. 

     Beginning in Toronto, the very first Slut Walk brought in 3,000-4,000 people marching through the streets of Toronto declaring that those who experience sexual assault are never the ones to blame.  Men and women held signs that read:  “Reclaim the word SLUT.” ” Met a slut today?  Don’t assault her.”  “My short skirt has nothing to do with you.”

Well, it was only a matter of time before this movement spilled over to the rest of the world, and the United States has taken up the cause and has begun its own Slut Walks in cities all over the country.  But with the rise in these Slut Walks, there has also been a rise in controversy.  Are these Slut Walks really fulfilling their purpose?  Are they effective at preventing sexual violence from occurring?

This 2 minute clip breifly discusses both sides of the issue.  Slutwalks in the USA. 

Now, I’ll admit, that at first I wasn’t so sure about this movement.  Maybe it’s me being mildly anti-feminist, but my instant reaction when I hear “slut” is negative.  We’ve all been conditioned to think that being a “slut” is a bad thing.  I can remember picking out a low-cut top for a high school dance and my parents freaking out because it made me look “slutty.”  What were they worried about?  That I’d get a bad reputation — maybe.  That a guy would see me looking like that and think it was okay to assault me — DEFINITELY!  I ended up having to wear a cleavage reducing cami underneath my “slutty” top before going to the dance.

This is what we have been taught.  As one of the signs from a Slut Walk declared, “Soceity teaches ‘Don’t get raped;’ Not ‘Don’t Rape.'”  Hmm, a novel concept.

Now, while I’m still unsure about the “slut” moniker (although I understand where it stems from), I think that these Slut Walks could be an interesting educational tool.  If we begin chanting through the streets that my outfit (slutty or conservative) is not consent, can we change the stereotype that insists that “slutty” clothes beget sexual assault.  If the only thing you hear is that a victim is NEVER to blame for his/her assault, then the Slut Walk has achieved its primary mission.

Admittedly, there’s a lot more at play here than just victim blame.  The movement also seeks to promote women embracing their sexuality and not being afraid to dress however they want in case they should get raped.  There’s a lot of gender considerations that come into play and different political and philosophical bends.  But I’m not going to mess with that right now.

Baseline message — I think that destroying this foundation for victim blame and raising awareness to the stereotype is a brilliant thing.  Whether the movement is really “reclaiming” the word “slut,” I don’t know.  Whether the word “slut” is actually going to hurt the movement because of the negative social stigma attached to it, maybe. 

But “slut” or not, we all need to hear the message.  If you are a victim, it is NOT your fault.  End of story.

What do you think about Slut Walks?  Tell me here in a comment or send a message (jarthur2@uwyo.edu).

Learn more about Slut Walks here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: