To all you loyal readers out there who are still following after the last few months of less prolific writing, I thank you! With the dawning of the new year, my hope is that I will have more time to blog on 4WomenWorldwide. Until then, thank you for being patient and, as always, thank you for reading.
I’ve delayed weighing in on the SlutWalks because I was trying to form my opinion on the movement, though I know that many a feminist ardently supports the cause. For those of you not familiar, it was sparked when a Toronto police officer said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.”
In response, students around the country organized the SlutWalk. Its objective is two fold: to “reclaim” the word “slut” and demonstrate that women should feel safe to dress as they wish without feeling threatened.
- Objectively, I could not agree more.
The movement is, admittedly, misunderstood by those who only hear the name and don’t read further; however, there are two points that I think the SlutWalks overlook.
1. It’s Not That Simple
There are two fundamental flaws in our society that SlutWalk fails to adequately address:
- Good Men Rape Women
- Women Don’t Adequately Protect Themselves
On point one: men are not taught the proper meaning of consent. Lines are grey and, if not properly trained, good men rape women. Often without knowing it.
On point two: given the reality of point one, women need to understand how their behavior plays into this dynamic. This means drawing boundaries, vocalizing desires, and, when necessary, educating men about where the lines are.
These ideas are not without controversy. But they are long-acknowledged facts that boil under the surface of sexual relations in American society. Choosing to simplify this problem into anything less (i.e. women should be able to wear what they want + be left alone = problem solved) ignores the underlying dynamic and allows it to continue.
Yes, women should be able to wear what they want; but what does this matter if men don’t know the meaning of consent, anyway?
2. Reject “Slut.” Claim “Empowered.”
What has always perplexed me about SlutWalks is the desire to reclaim a word that is degrading, misogynist, and coined to be an insult to women. Why would we want such a thing back?
I understand the logic: the Toronto policeman who sparked this movement called women sluts and blamed them for being raped. We need to set the record straight.
But wouldn’t it be more productive to point out the double standard: men who sleep around are heroes while women who do the same are called sluts; or perhaps we could discuss how to educate men and women about the ways in which many women are unwittingly assaulted.
“Slut” is not a compliment; it’s a sexist term, coined by men to insult women. This is not something I want to be called. Ever. Period.
I reject it.
Instead, why don’t we claim something like, “empowered.”
We are empowered to discuss these issues in a way that changes the landscape for our children; we are empowered and we are rejecting the double standard, we are rejecting the fault finding, and we are marching to demand a society that does not deny the true causes of these issues but rather educates its children to change the future.