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SlutWalk DC: Not Your Typical Political Fashion Statement

By HERWriter
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Sex & Relationships related image Photo: Getty Images

Slut. According to the dictionary: “a dirty, immoral or untidy woman”. We use it to describe someone who is purposely sexually promiscuous, but also tend to equate the word with revealing clothing -- even going so far as to assume that women who dress a certain way are looking for a certain type of sexual attention. In many cases, this assumption allows our society stand by as women (and men!) are violated -- too blinded by the title to recognize that rape has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s appearance and everything to do with power and control.

On August 13, 2011 in Washington D.C., women’s advocacy and empowerment organizations gathered together on the National Mall to challenge the way we interpret the word “slut”, decry the excuses we make for people who abuse it, and demand a culture that truly values sexual empowerment, equality and safety, rather than abuses it.

The event was one of more than 80 SlutWalks that have occurred around the nation and across the globe. The SlutWalk movement began in the early spring of 2011 after a police officer who was speaking at a crime prevention and safety forum in Toronto recommended that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” (Read more about this event and get a taste for some of the controversy surrounding the topic here: http://www.excal.on.ca/news/dont-dress-like-a-slut-toronto-cop/).

Women took to the streets to protest this blatant victim-blaming and shaming, wearing clothing that exposed their bodies and might typically be classified as “slutty”. Capitalizing on shock value (but maintaining an extremely basic message) the SlutWalks are meant to show the world that no matter what a person wears, he/she does not deserve to be raped.

D.C.’s SlutWalk participants were no different. Women and men, young and old, scantily clad and those wearing average sightseeing apparel, joined together in the shadow of the Washington Monument (or as the keynote speaker Andrea Bredbeck referred to it: “the f***ing biggest phallus on the planet!”).

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EmpowHER Guest

I do believe that reversing what a word means to ourselves does not reverse what the word means to society. We just end up putting ourselves in a bubble that doesn't reflect the message that we are trying to send. Simply put rape is wrong and blaming victims is worst but we have to deal in reality that we all are being judged just like most of us judge as well. I can put on a mini skirt a yell i am not a slut but some one would probably ask... how much? If i look like a street walker i will be treated like a street walker no matter if i am one or not. Its ridiculous to believe that no one would assume that i might be. And if anyone was paying attention to the slutwalk it wasn't because they understood the message, it was probably to see women dressed like sluts.

September 11, 2011 - 8:59pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Hannah

Great article, thank you!

I happen to think these protests are ridiculous. It's the same as black people calling themselves "ni**a" and women calling each other "c*nts" in order to take back their power and reclaim the word. I get what they are trying to do but for me, it just doesn't work.

Why on earth would any woman want to assert her power by looking like a truck stop hooker? Really? That's the best we can do? That really allows us to "claim" these vile words and somehow take the hurt away? Please!

Let's get our nations women out there as they really are: uniformed police officers, firefighters, doctors and nurses. Let's get the female judges and teachers, the business owners and stay at home moms and really show women for what they are. Real, intelligent, compassionate and educated human beings who don't need to adopt the working girl look in order to gain power over trashy words.

This kind of psychological turnaround simply doesn't work. At least not for me. And while it's absolutely correct to say that no women or man should be raped, no matter what they wear, I would not participate in something like this.

Thanks for posting this!

August 17, 2011 - 12:06pm
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