Sunday, June 5, 2011

Message from SlutWalk LA
Slut Means We Choose

Slutwalk is reclaiming the word slut, which was always a subjective judgment anyway, from a derogatory association to a positive affirmation.

Slutwalk is not demanding, or even suggesting that women "should" wear scanty clothing, or modest clothing and headscarves, but affirming our right as human beings to make that choice for ourselves.
We choose what we will wear.  We choose what we will eat.  We choose whether we say yes to many, few, or none.  We choose when, or if, we will bear children.

Slutwalk is rejecting the blame that we are raped because we have “failed” in some way.  We have dressed too sexily; we have failed to constantly guard our drink; we dared have car trouble in the wrong place; we have mistakenly trusted someone who was a long-time friend.  (Message being, trust no one?  Ever?)


Slutwalk is calling bullshit on the LIE that the victim is responsible for being sexually assaulted.  The person responsible for rape is the rapist.

Southern California Leatherwoman Serene & me

I was proud to have had a minor role in Slutwalk LA and as a volunteer, possessor of one of the much-coveted T-shirts.  (Note to organizers of Slutwalk LA 2012 - order a gross of T-shirts, everybody will buy one.)  The organizers did a wonderful job, although the majority of them were young college students, juggling this tremendous project along with their studies, finals, and other responsibilities.










I was delighted by the rainbow of people participating, and I’m not just talking about the ones with the day-glo hair.


Sponsors helped with costs and set up information booths, including Sex Worker's Outreach Project LA; The Pleasure Chest, Hollaback, Butch Voices Los Angeles, NOW South Bay Chapter, National Sexual Assault Hotline, Planned Parenthood, CA National Organization for WomenMs. Magazine, Peace Over Violence, and grrrlVirus.  There were many young people,  old <ahem> not-quite-as-young people there, people of color, moms and moms to be, women and men dressed like sluts - or not.
Sorry about cutting off your head, dad-to-be. 
Good for you standing up for your wife and daughter-to-be.




Permits and official security was required,
but this guy could've handled it.



Being dressed as a "slut" (or a nun) is beside the point.  One organizer, Hugo Schwyzer of the Good Men Project, talked about how angry he feels about the myth of male weakness - that men “just can’t help themselves” from raping women (or other men.)  He insists - as did the many men present, who are participating in the SlutWalk movement nationwide - that men aren’t that weak.  That consent is sexy.

   
 As so eloquently verbalized by roofie drug rape victims Sara Barrett and Alana Evans, most rapes are planned.  When somebody buys a drug, or a knife, or a gun with the intent of using it to coerce someone to have sex with him (or her), that’s a choice.  When somebody uses that tool - or pure size, physical force, or intimidation - that another choice.  When someone targets a minor for sexual activity, that's a choice.  
If men or women really can't help themselves, maybe they should use the BUDDY SYSTEM, and ask a friend to stay with them in public to keep them from assaulting people. 

One of several wonderful guest speakers

I’ve already posted about many of the myths about sexual assault.  Here’s more facts that were included in the handout passed out to Slutwalk LA attendees:                
  • 1 out of every 3 American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
  • 1 in 10 men in raped in his lifetime.
  • 1 in 7 women will be raped by her husband.
  • 1 in 15 rape victims will become pregnant as a result of being raped.
  • Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes, with 60% still being unreported.
  • 15 of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail.
  • Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
  • 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
  • 15% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 12.
  • 44% are under age 18.
  • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
I found it interesting that Slutwalk LA was happening just as I am reading Azar Nafisi's memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran, about the shift from a secular Iran to one in which women were now required by law to wear the chador in public: 
...now that I could not wear what I would normally wear, walk in the streets to the beat of my own body, shout if I wanted to or pat a male colleague on the back on the spur of the moment, now that all this was illegal, I felt light and fictional...
No disrespect meant here to our sisters who choose to wear hijab.  Nafisi also writes lovingly of her grandmother who wore chador by personal religious choice, and felt violated when laws were passed to prohibit it.  It's having someone else's standards thrust down our throats, not by our own choice, that is so dehumanizing.


 My point being, that 1) perception of what modesty is shifts over time and cultures, and 2) the idea that modest dress, or a culture that is religious and promotes "feminine modesty" will protect a woman from rape or molestation is a lie.  Often it simply means that "women" as young as 13, or 10, are married to much older men and regularly raped as wives.  Women in chador and burqas get raped too.



 Men (and women) who want to sexually assault others will find a way, and will do their best to get their culture to agree with them that what they are doing isn't really rape. Slutwalk is about changing the culture mindset from blaming the victim, to blaming the attacker.


Every human being should have automony over his/her own body, and be free from sexual assault.  Whether one is a p0rn star or an altar boy, a college co-ed or serving in the US military, whether one has flirted, has had a few drinks, is dressed like a "slut," or all of the above, no one deserves be to sexually assaulted, and no one should be blamed or made to feel ashamed for being assaulted.


Men (and women) who sexually assault others aren't as weak as they'd like to make us think.

Your thoughts?