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18 August 2011

I Am Not A Slut

It's taken me a while to think through my response to Slut Walk, the anti-rape and anti-harrassment marches in which some/many women dress as sluts to make the point that nothing a woman or girl wears (or doesn't wear) makes it acceptable for her to be raped. (While not denying the experience of male rape, the Slut Walk phenomena is a woman/girl movement in response to the comments of a Toronto police officer who said that women who didn't want to be raped should stop dressing like sluts.)
Obviously his comments are reprehensible, violent, disgusting and more.
I share the outrage of the Slut Walk organizers. But I was immediately put off by the phenomenon and it took me some time to figure out why.
Finally it came to me: slut is not a word I chose to claim for myself or other women. I am not a slut. I am not a bitch. I am not a c*nt. I realized my response to the Slut Walk phenomenon was the same as my response to one of the Vagina Monologues monologues. Some words cannot be redeemed for me. I am not a n!gger. I am not a whore. I am not a 'ho. I am not a slut.
I am a woman created in the image of God. I am beautiful and brilliant in every sense of each word. And no one has the right to touch me without my permission. Not my hair. Not my skin. Not my body. And there is nothing I could ever do - or have ever done that would justify anyone breaking into my body.
Nothing I wear (or don't wear) makes me a slut, whether or not someone else finds me attractive, desirable, or sees me as in need of domination, subjugation or feels entitled to have access to me, to violate, injure, degrade or rape me. None of that is about me. Whatever names they might call me, whatever narrative they may create for themselves to justify their conduct; I am not a slut. I won't own that label at the hands of rapists, sexists or anti-sexist anti-rape activists.
One aspect of the marches that I did appreciate was the range of attire worn by the participants. That is where I would have looked to name the response: What Raped Women Wear - not nearly as sexy catchy as Slut Walk.
I know that some speeches addressed this issue, but I would have needed this to be the headline and organizing principle in order to participate.

What Raped Women Wear...
Grandmothers in housecoats and slippers
Critically ill women in adult diapers in hospital beds
Mentally ill and developmentally disabled women and girls in jumpers and jeans
Infant girls in onesies
Little girls in their Sunday best
Muslim women in hijab
Nuns in their habits
Businesswomen in business suits
Students in jeans and skirts
Girls and women in their pajamas, nightgowns and skin in their own homes, in their own showers, in their own beds
Prostitutes and strippers in their uniforms
Police women and soldiers in their uniforms
Any woman or girl anywhere, wearing anything
this is what raped women wear.

6 comments:

  1. I just don't understand the movement, at all. Thanks for your thoughtful reflection.

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  2. Also, I just used this as one of two posts at RevGals' Wednesday Festival. Thanks again.

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  3. I don't believe the young women taking part in these marches consider themselves sluts either--it is the larger society that labels them "sluts" for what they wear and blames them for their own victimization. They are rejecting that designation and the cultural notion that women are responsible for their own rapes/sexual assaults.

    Reclaiming loaded words is often a calculated tactic to shock us out of complacency and make us pay attention to issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia. I think it is good that these terms make us uncomfortable--they should. That's the whole point.....

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  4. Hello Wormwood, did you listen to or read any of the speeches from the marches? There were multiple postures regarding the term, women's dress, sexual agency including affirming the label. I understand their multiple agendas. I do not share them. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. I love this so much. Thank you for sharing it, especially your poem, which is POWERFUL.

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  6. Hassopheret, I want to thank you for your response, which I posted on the RevGals' blog. I find myself responding in much the same way you do to certain words. They're offensive. Thank you for verbalizing that.

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