I am going on the Sydney SlutWalk on Monday June 13. And I’ll probably be wearing jeans and a jacket. Because you don’t have to wear fishnets, stilettos and leopard print to take part. (Here’s a hint to journalists covering the story: give the cliches a rest for the day. If you look at the photos from the marches around the world, most participants are dressed “normally”.)
Predictably, the story is getting a lot of coverage in the mainstream media because of the word “slut”. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s excellent that it’s getting coverage, but if it was the Walk Against Victim Blaming it would be lucky to be a brief just before the world section.
And – also predictably – someone writing for The Punch has missed the point. Tory Shepherd’s piece today: The sluts protest too much, methinks
Passionate protestors too often get caught up in their own hype and do themselves and their chosen issue an enormous disservice.
Last week a father who just wanted access to his children instead earned the wrath of a city after his one-man protest closed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and left irate drivers stuck in traffic for hours.
I don’t know the background story, but it’s a pretty safe bet that if police have stopped this guy seeing his kids, there’s probably a good reason – which is a question most journalists don’t appear to have asked. Anyway, back to SlutWalk:
Victim blaming is a horrendous compounding of the original crime, an archaic misdirection of shaming. It’s hardly a widespread sentiment outside fundamentalist Islam, inbred Bible Belt communities, and apparently the occasional police station.
Still, where it happens it should be loudly condemned.
Hardly widespread? I suggest you take a look at the way News Ltd journalists report violent crime against women. And the way Fairfax journalists report violent crime against women. And the way that Punch reader after Punch reader will suggest that a woman “asked for it”.
I think the name has a far bigger problem than that. People’s attention spans are spread so thin these days that everyone except the already converted will probably miss the point entirely.
Many will simply take away the idea that it’s now OK to call women sluts if they’re showing some cleavage.
Others will see it as an easy opportunity to perve on a bunch of semi-clad chicks. Older people and conservatives will see it as proof of the moral laxity of today’s women.
Well Tory, that seems to be your understanding of the issue. That it’s just about reclaiming the word slut and getting your tits out. You’ve missed the point and added nothing to the conversation. Ooh, and that’s what The Punch is all about, isn’t it? “Australia’s best conversation”.
Maybe you should have gone to the SlutWalk Melbourne website to see what the global protests are really about:
We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.
Join us in our mission to spread the word that those those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.
It’s pretty funny that she says people will miss the point and then does exactly that.
It will have an effect on girls and young women who will see these protests in the papers, online and in the news. And it will reinforce the already widespread impression that sex, for a woman, is power. Or the route to power.
That it is cool, and tough, and desirable to label yourself a slut. That a woman should aspire to be sexy at all costs. That if you are not a slut, you are not cool, you are not powerful. That sex equals success – and a paucity of it, therefore, failure.
Um, what the fuck? That’s not the message AT ALL. But we really should thank The Punch for this contribution to public discussion. And for publishing this comment:
07:50am | 16/05/11
I would give more credence to this protest if all of the organisers hadn’t been hit with the wrong end of the ugly stick.
I don’t think any of them are in any danger of being victimised for their clothing choice.
And this one:
Sonny Carrington says:
10:01am | 16/05/11
If half of all the sluts in this country turn up for this protest, it will be the biggest rally Australia has ever seen. But I doubt the single mothers will have the will power to get out of bed – Since there is no mention of a handout for their participation.
“Australia’s best conversation”? Sure, if you like talking to douchebags.