The Rogue Slut

Co-founder of SlutWalk Toronto.
Madame of The Keyhole Sessions.
Advocate of sex positivity.

Tweets, tumbles and opinions are solely my own.

In defense of SlutWalk

… and oh, how there will be so many. On my part, anyway. 

Tomorrow I will be defending SlutWalk at the Ontario Bar Association. SlutWalk Toronto was asked to participate in a panel they have assembled called Feminist Legal Analysis: SlutWalks: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem? This is in response to Rebecca Traister’s piece in New York Times Magazine in July, Ladies, We Have a Problem. In it, Traister posits that “women stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts” is more irritating than empowering.

Taken out of context, as SlutWalk so often is, I might agree that doing such a thing is more harmful than helpful. If you take the time, however, to analyze what SlutWalk is about, who is behind it and what actually transpires at one of these events, you may see that there is more empowerment happening than you would assume of those “marching in hot pants”.

Traister’s piece promotes the assumption that SlutWalks are nothing more than scantily-clad women, marching down the street with SLUT happily smeared across their chests, as most media reports have shown photos that this is the case. But if you were to zoom out, you’d see that most marchers are in typical everyday clothing {here’s a pretty succinct slideshow of the difference between activist photography and Big Media photography; slides 6-34}.

Traister continues on to say:

Scantily-clad marching seems weirdly blind to race, class and body-image issues that usually {rightly} obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers.

Yes, young {and old} feminists battle these issues every day. But many of us are also tired of battling the whore/madonna complex, being forced to choose one or the other, eliminating the option to be proud of our sexuality should we decide that virginal virtue is more respectable. That ‘respect’ is subjective is infuriating to no end. I’m often placed at a disadvantage because I shamelessly admit to enjoying sex, nevermind what other accomplishments I have under my belt. It’s been recently assumed that because I use the word slut in the positive, I must be a single mother {I’m not}.

While there are those who cannot enjoy the privilege that I have — to freely discuss and even flaunt my sexuality — I will not apologize for it. I worked hard for the right to do so. After all the years of carrying the slut burden {having been first called it in high-school}, I am now ready to turn and say a big “fuck you” to the namecallers. It weighed heavily, affecting my behaviour, and the creation of SlutWalk was cathartic.

While I disagree with Traister that 20 years after the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas debacle we aren’t “braver and more skilled at calling out injustices”, I do agree that “social progress is imperfect, full of half-truths and sloppy misrepresentations” {her own account of SlutWalks proves this}. I also believe — perhaps naively — that it’s all of these imperfections that will eventually lead to a more enlightened feminist populace. 

One of the largest criticisms of SlutWalk is that it appears to be a movement for only white, privileged women; that there is no place within it for people of colour. While this criticism stems largely from the US, a place where we at SWTO had not considered in our initial rage toward Toronto Police Services, it is significant and needs to be {and, in fact, currently is} taken into account if SlutWalk is to move forward to be a more inclusive movement. With all the inner rage directed from some feminists toward others, it’s these discoveries that are promoting necessary discussion and hopefully a consensus toward a greater good. It’s one step back, two steps forward. 

So while a new generation of feminists take to the streets and the web {SlutWalks and spinoffs, workshops and seminars, PSAs, tweets and blogging}, I do believe that we’re part of a solution. Not the solution, but a loud part of one. SlutWalk isn’t for everyone; it was never meant to be so, and I don’t believe that every movement should attempt to tick every feminist box. But it should be included as a significant space for those who have felt the sting of the word, whether physically or emotionally or both, and who have stepped forward to say, “Thank you, I now realize it was never my fault”.

Before SlutWalk, if you googled “slut”, results would have yielded the same old misogynist bullshit. Do it now, and top results will show you discussions of slut-shaming. I’d say that’s a pretty good step forward.

  1. victorially reblogged this from therogueslut and added:
    Lots of people have lots to say about the Slutwalk movement, both positive and negative. There have been some good...
  2. therogueslut posted this