“Slut Walk”


The SlutWalk protest marches began on April 3, 2011, in Toronto, Canada, and became a movement of rallies across the world. Participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance. The rallies began when Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, suggested that to remain safe, “women should avoid dressing like sluts.”

The protest takes the form of a march, mainly by young women, where some dress in ordinary clothing and others dress provocatively, like “sluts.” There are also speaker meetings and workshops. Some objectors have remarked that this approach is an example of women defining their sexuality in male terms.

(from Wikipedia)

Johannesburg has the annual “Slut Walk” on Saturday. I know quite a few women who are going. I have changed my mind because after 5 days mostly in bed, just standing yesterday nearly killed me, and a longish walk from point A to point B (and back again?) on Saturday will almost certainly leave me lying somewhere on the roadside. Maybe what I will do is go and offer lifts back to where people have left their cars. At least I’ll be doing something.

So why this post?

My friend and I were discussing it last night. She’s agreed to be a marshal. (You have to have a certain number of people who will agree to do that before you can get permission here for something like that).

But more than that, her youngest daughter has obtained permission from her church to walk in her lay-minister’s robes and carry the woman’s organisation banner in the walk. She believes the other young woman who is a lay minister may well join her in this. (The walk in Cape Town had women in full cover-up dress of traditional Muslims walking alongside women in scanty attire. Making such a strong point.)

I was thinking how sensible she is. Rape happens to women regardless of how they are dressed. It’s more of a power issue than a sex-as-attraction issue. No woman is safe in a culture where rape is not punished swiftly and harshly, where rape is condoned and even discussed by men as their “right”.

We live in a society where rape is extremely common. Not just the young attractive women, but babies, children, old women, young boys. I’m pretty sure the same men who rape are willing to shout about their rights, yet believe they have a right to damage and inflict themselves on those with less power than they have.

“Some objectors have remarked that this approach is an example of women defining their sexuality in male terms.” I was shocked to read this in Wikipedia. Yet the discussion is important. It’s not about the woman’s sexuality, it’s about blaming victims, or rather about NOT blaming victims.

Female sexuality is not about being raped!

Very very few rapes are committed by women. This is a MALE crime almost exclusively. But men haven’t worked out how to stop other men from raping. So maybe it’s time women took control in this area.

Start with HUGE education and public awareness campaigns funded by heavy fines on rapists (as only a PART of their punishment). On and on until there are no more rapists to fund the campaigns, because all men have come to understand that they may not infringe on the rights of other humans not to be damaged by men using sex as a weapon.

I do believe that ‘real’ men who themselves would never even consider raping a woman are oddly enough part of the problem. They don’t see the necessity for all of this, because they can’t conceive of doing it. That’s why it has to be taken over by women, who are all aware of the threats, some every day and night of their lives.

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13 thoughts on ““Slut Walk”

  1. It’s a crime as old as humanity and – while I applaud these women who take their walk – I don’t believe it will have any effect on statistics. I just wish they’d have given their efforts a more dignified name.

  2. Powerful stuff today, Sidey, and compellingly written. The power struggle between men and women is very far from over. Not just regarding the extremities of rape, but the predisposition men seem to have to want to dominate. Evidence for this is everywhere. It’s here in the UK in our classrooms, in our workplaces. Our gender dictates how we treat, and how we are treated.

    Rapists are a minority proportion of all men. But the power holders – the ones with the power to make the difference Cindy talks of – they are overwhelmingly male.

    When I want to get something done and there’s an incompetent powerful male in my way Phil gives me one piece of advice. Act just like a man, he says. The Slut Walk makes the decision not to do this: to be assertively female: to say I Can Dress How I want, Thank You Very Much. It works as a gesture of sisterly solidarity: but I don’t think it ‘acts like a man’, and so, because we do not step into the male camp to deliver our message, they are able to turn away and disregard, to mock, to write us off as hysterical and inconsequential. It is an enduring inequality that women are able to reach out to communicate to men; but men simply don’t have the emotional equipment to do the same to us. We want our message heard, we have to play their game.

    I seem to have written rather a lot. I apologise 🙂 Now I just have to decide whether to press publish…

  3. Perhaps for many the issue is not that provocative clothing(or the lack thereof) promotes rape rage but it may simply be a matter of encouraging self respect. I had to laugh at myself because I originally read it as “carry the women’s orgasm banner”

    1. what ‘self respect’ issues does the 5year old raped girl have?
      what clothing does the 70 year old woman wear that encourages the rape?

      sorry Carl I see your attitude as part of the problem, not part of the solution

  4. we have voices to be heard in out votes, in the questions we put pubically to elected representatives, in the making the public aware of judges too lenient in sentencing rapists.

    we are the majority and we do have ways to be heard

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