So you may have seen some buzz around lately in the media about an event called SlutWalk. What SlutWalk is, is a rally/march in protest of the cultural attitude that a woman may “deserve” to be raped/sexually assaulted, based on measures of what she wears, whether or not she is consuming drugs or alcohol, or her sexual activity, amongst other things.
SlutWalk began in Toronto, Canada after a police officer giving a talk at a college campus safety information session stated that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”. Quite understandably so, the people of Toronto were angry at this and a protest event sprang up very quickly, the inaugural SlutWalk. As the word spread around the world, allies all around the world have been organising their own local event to send the message that slut-shaming victims of rape/sexual assault is not acceptable.
Just a couple of days ago, I read this amazing speech given at Boston SlutWalk by Jaclyn Friedman. Jaclyn really expresses most of my own thoughts (and a whole lot more) in her piece. Don’t miss it – whether you watch the video or read the transcript.
A lot of women really have a problem with the term “slut” and some have refused to take part in the events because of the name. Many feel that it is a derogatory term that shouldn’t be used to describe women, and feel that “reclaiming” the word encourages people to use the word to shame women who are sexually active, who enjoy sex or who dress in a manner that is considered “sexy”.
To be honest, I am inclined to agree. It is a word that is used to shame and bully women, to control them by socially policing them into shame for having any form of sexuality and sexual expression. It’s not a word I want to hear used to describe women and/or girls.
But that said, I am still going to participate in SlutWalk.
Why? Because I feel it is of the highest importance that we, as a society, stand up and speak out against the rape culture that implies that women “asked for” or somehow deserved rape in any way, shape or form. We need to speak out against a culture that tries to control women by dictating what they wear, what they do with their own bodies and how they conduct their sex lives.
Because I believe there is nothing that anyone can do or say that makes them deserve rape. Ever.
But most importantly, as a sexual assault survivor myself, a rape survivor myself (I still have issues using that word in reference to my own experience) who has been doubted, questioned and denied the right to name what happened to me, I need to speak out against a culture that puts the onus of preventing rape on the victim, instead of where it should be, on the perpetrator.
The very reason I never reported my own rape (and other sexual assaults) was because I was led to believe that it was somehow my fault that I was raped. I was shamed for being a victim of a horrible, violent act that someone else perpetrated against me.
So on the 28th of May, I will be joining the Brisbane SlutWalk, not to reclaim the word slut or proclaim myself a proud slut, but to stand up and stay that nobody deserves rape for any reason.
I urge you to become involved in the SlutWalk in your local area. Don’t let the shame pushed at women hold you back from speaking out against the injustice of rape apologism and victim blaming.