Sluts of the world, unite
Slut, slut, slut, slut, slut, slut. Does it make you cringe? Did your hackles rise? Let’s try again. Slut, slut, slut, slut, slut. OK, I’ll stop now.
Actually, the word (wait for it) SLUT has become much more than an offensive word dripping with hidden meanings and implications. As of 2011, it’s become political. It’s the word chosen by the latest generation of feminists to symbolise women’s sexual inequality.
It was a bit like the butterfly effect, but the butterfly in question was actually a bigoted member of Toronto Police who advised a hall of law students that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”. It created ripples of disquiet across the ponds of the world, ripples of outrage and fury. SlutWalkToronto (SWTO) was born.
Since January, SWTO’s partners (known as Satellite partners) have mobilised in strength and number worldwide. Sluts of the world, unite!
The word “slut” implies someone who is promiscuous or ‘loose’ – and it almost always refers to women. Whilst some use it “ironically”, (as in, haha funny, right?) it has become almost acceptable to use it in relation to women who enjoy wearing revealing clothes. They are either met with lewd comments and wolf whistles from men enjoying the display or disparaging “you’re asking for it” type reactions. Where do you draw the line? When does simple enjoyment become something else?
I confess I’ve been one to unashamedly smirk at the sight of what I’d term a “Croydon girl” dressed in as little as she can get away with, especially if it’s in the depths of Winter, (and maybe it’s just not my thing dressing like that), but you know what, who am I to judge? Do we not pride ourselves on being a democratic country with some kind of equality between the sexes, where we can freely choose what to wear?
And exactly what am I smirking at, anyway? The supposed idiosy of dressing like that in Winter? Or is it jealousy that I can’t carry off a look like that? Or is it something else, something darker? Deep down, do I hold the opinion that actually by dressing in such a way “she’s asking for it”?
I don’t actually believe that of course – but there are plenty who do. This is what the SlutWalkers are err, walking against.
As women, we choose to dress “sexually” because it makes us feel beautiful. It’s no different to what wildlife in the animal kingdom do to attract a mate (OK, so you don’t see squirrels wearing hot pants and putting on mascara, but you get my point). And maybe we also like being looked at – sometimes. But that is where the buck should stop.
Look at us if you want, that’s your choice, but don’t then tell us that it’s ‘our’ fault if we are attacked. The fault is never with the victim.
I’ve been lucky enough to be brought up with liberal parents (especially my mother) who taught my sister and I that we had a right to wear what we wanted without fear of repercussions. She taught us a rhyme that became my motto:
Whatever I wear, wherever I go, yes means yes and no means no.
So I don’t hold with the “she asked for it” excuse. I also don’t hold with the hard-core feminist approach of the 1970s that dictated that women should stop wearing clothes that sexualised them: polar necks, high-waisted trousers, “sensible” shoes etc. To me, it felt like it was subscribing too willingly to the “she asked for it” belief.
Of course, not dressing what society deems “sexually” doesn’t always guarantee a rape-free existence (excuse my blasé way of approaching a very sensitive subject, it’s tongue-in-cheek). Women have been attacked whilst wearing jeans and baggy sweaters, they’ve been attacked without make-up, they’ve been attacked wearing last season’s trends (heh). Men who have the propensity to rape are going to do it regardless. They are going to do it if you are dressed provocatively, they are going to do it if you’re not. And they will always find an excuse to justify their animal behaviour.
The same people who use the “she asked for it” belief surely don’t extend that to explain how children become victims of sexual abuse?
Slutwalking then, is a movement based on a woman’s right to wear what she wants. It’s about refusing to accept “slut” as a derogatory word, it’s about challenging the belief that the rape or sexual assault victim is at fault simply by being a woman.
Husbands can rape wives, clients can rape prostitutes: if it’s not consensual, it’s rape.
This is why I wholeheartedly support the slutwalk movement that has gained international recognition with events all over the world: The likes of Canada, Australia, USA, Sweden, The Netherlands, Denmark, Brazil, South Africa and the UK are all involved.