This weekend sees the second Wellington SlutWalk, which I am attending.
Because there’s still a lot of discussion and questions and concerns around the whole concept of SlutWalk (and probably will be until the vaginocracy perfects its hivemind technology) I want to recap why I support SlutWalk (in general).
It’s because SlutWalk is a big, flagrant middle finger to mainstream, acceptable attitudes which basically dictate all women need to stay indoors dressed in nuns’ habits because damned if we actually care to stop people committing rape.
It’s because SlutWalk is a gateway protest. I know, far be it for me to preach breaking things to people gently, but the fact is if a group predominantly made up of “respectable” middle-class white women, most from the ever-self-centred Generation Y, stand up and say they aren’t taking some shit, people pay more attention.
What we have to absolutely make sure of is that we don’t stop there and say “oh well, white cis women are OK so let’s go do brunch”.
It’s because SlutWalk makes you feel not-alone in a world constantly invading your head with rape culture and victim blaming. It lets you know people care. And within its privileged framing (see below) it sends a hell of a message.
There are large numbers of people in this world who will happily state in the anonymous sewer of Stuff comments that women are like billboards, rape is just men’s way of “reacting” to Hot Chicks, that victims do indeed deserve blaming. I’m just saying this: if any of those sad fucks were at last year’s march, I sure didn’t see any of them having the spine to say it to our faces.
It’s because this whole thing kicked off in January 2011 when a Toronto police officer told a group of university students that to avoid being attacked, women shouldn’t “dress like sluts”.
And in May 2012, Whanganui police are saying women shouldn’t walk or jog alone in the CBD.
This shit is not okay. It’s not actually acceptable. And when I go to SlutWalk, I and everyone else marching will hopefully be sending a big old message: we won’t tolerate our police force saying women should live in fear. We won’t tolerate society excusing violence because the victims dared to live their lives, dress up, have a few drinks, or even stay at home and expect not to be attacked by their friend or partner or ex.
SlutWalk is by no means perfect. In the first place, I want to hope that this year we won’t see repeats of that incident. We won’t see women wearing faux burqa. We won’t appropriate other struggles just because it’s easier than developing our own language.
Let’s be honest, someone will. Someone who isn’t thinking about comparative privilege or intersectionality, someone who’s just focused on her own particular types of oppression (oh look, history of white Western feminism coming at ya). In a way, that’s part of why I want to be there – because the people who are on our side for the wrong reasons need to be educated just as much as the people we’re opposing.
SlutWalk is never going to be able to tackle the totality of sex-policing in our society – not when some groups of women are considered so lowly, so unable to refuse consent, that the word “slut” isn’t really a weapon used against them. Not when some groups of women are considered unrapeable, and any assault – even murder – committed against them isn’t really seen as a crime.
I do find it ironic, as someone who is so often hardline and unwilling to compromise, that despite all these things I still support the concept of SlutWalk. But it does feel good to do something, and I do believe it has the potential to start off change which we can spread to other, less-“obvious” (to the privileged) forms of sexual oppression.