The Slut Walk’s Wonderful — But Only for Those Who Already March in Step

By Jason Menard 

The Slut Walk will be taking place in London this weekend in an attempt to change some people’s perspectives, but no matter how long the skirts are, or how demure the dress code is, will it have an impact on the people for whom the display is intended?

London’s Slut Walk takes place on Sunday and it’s been designed to support a similar action in Toronto. This was all brought about by an ignorant statement by a member of the Toronto police who stated that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

Whether a woman’s dressed in a full burqa or walking the streets à la Lady Godiva, there is never a reason why the victim should be blamed. Sexual assault is perpetrated by those looking to abuse control; it’s not invited by those showing a little leg.

So women from all walks of life will be on hand, marching together to remind people of their basic human right to not be assaulted. But the question is do these events actually change people’s beliefs or is it just a forum for co-ordinating like-minded people?

Whether it’s civil rights or protests about government, most protests offer an opportunity for those who may have sheltered their beliefs to gather with like-minded people and express their feelings. The empowerment comes from freeing participants to express themselves by potentially eliminating the fear of repercussion through the safety-in-numbers concept.

But do any attitudes really get changed?

I’ve attended my share of events, ranging from Take Back the Night campaigns to Gay Pride festivities. And the rhetoric surrounding the Slut Walk is very similar. While I don’t deny the value of the event to its participants and supporters, I wonder if it will have any impact on those on the opposite side of the spectrum.

If you’re vehemently anti-gay, or if you hate black people, or if you think that women who dress provocatively “deserve it,” will seeing a group of these people together change your mind? Will minds filled with hate or ignorance suddenly be changed by seeing people come together?

I don’t know. Yes, there is some truth that exposure to people and behaviours that are different from us helps to demystify them and can increase understanding. But for that to work, the individual’s fundamental beliefs have to be open to understanding. Otherwise, no amount of exposure is going to have an impact because the foundation has been set.

However, I woman whose opinion I respect – and who will be participating in London’s Slut Walk, has given me some hope. She stated that these protests and rallies are important, simply because “the more often people are exposed to things that are different, the things that scare them, the less scary those things become.”

She went on to list gays on TV, women with positions of power, and even black presidents. And it’s true. Fifty, 75 years ago, these would be shocking. Today, for most of us, they’re nothing to bat an eyelash at.

But I come back to “for most of us…” There will always be those who believe what they believe — and no amount of exposure will change their misguided beliefs. Right-thinking people will support these efforts, but it’s not the right-thinking ones that need to change.

In addition, there are those who should be supportive of these women’s efforts, who have proven that they just don’t get it. Megan Walker, for one, has got it wrong. Walker, the executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, has taken umbrage with the use of the word “slut” suggesting that these women should prefer to be valued for being women, as opposed to being labelled sluts. But these women aren’t celebrating sluttiness — they’re standing up for the right to dress the way they want, act the way they want, and live the way they want, without being subjected to those who believe that a short skirt is an invitation to — and a justification for — rape.

Of course, Walker has previously been shown to be hypersensitive to this type of behaviour. After all, she’s the one who protested a sex show without having once set foot in the building. Being comfortable with one’s sexuality is something to which we should all aspire — and the Slut Walk’s participants are doing just that, using a tongue-in-cheek statement to reclaim something that should never be in doubt.

No means no. No matter how high the skirt, or how low the neckline, consent is never implied.

So, in the end, the Slut Walk will be a wonderful opportunity for women and men alike to stand together and share the sentiment that assault is never justified. But, unfortunately, the ones who need to change won’t get the message.

And, unfortunately, no amount of marching will change those people’s minds.

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7 thoughts on “The Slut Walk’s Wonderful — But Only for Those Who Already March in Step

  1. Dave Mitchell

    I was reading a force-fed copy of Metro the other night which happened to have an intruiging pairing of a story on the upcoming SlutWalk as well as “review” of Peggy Orenstien’s “Cinderella Ate My Daughter”.

    Now as a mature, mostly-balanced, certainly not prudish adult I can digest the SlutWalk for what it is intended to be, an extroverted message on the freedom of self-expression without fear. We should all have that right, whether we be wearing a low-cut top, a two-foot feathered tiara or a short sleeve shirt with a pocket protector.

    Much like Orenstein, my concern is for the impressionable 7 year old girls of the world who are already inundated with images that promote a level of sexuality clearly not appropriate for them. Some may say that being open with children about sexuality is the best route, which I would personally agree with, but the sad fact is our society isn’t build on that foundation.

    As you say those entrenched in their ways aren’t going to change, appreciating and respecting what is happening here is not a piece in their puzzle, but my concern is for those still figuring out where their edge pieces are.

    Reply
    1. Peter Szarycz

      My concern is for all the young people whose minds are getting manipulated by the loonies in the media. Moreover, a slut is a slut, not a cindarella or a mother Theresa. If you give into the media pressure, Lady Gaga pressure or some other pressure and make yourself into a slut, then you’re a slut. The term stays. Moreover, I’m getting sick of watching all the male nerds and vocabularic narcissists monopolize political and social commentary in the media.

      Reply
    2. Peter Szarycz

      Moreover, I don’t care what the cover-up story or issue for the slutwalk may be. It originated in its original form from the special intimate relationship b/w the Toronto police dept and entities such as the Toronto Star.

      Reply
      1. Peter Szarycz

        Hence slut pride is simply another version of the gay pride thingy. It’s directly derived from it, it’s an extension of it. We have this world famous gay pride parade in Toronto every year, you knoweth, and now the sluts have been invited to the party.

  2. Peter Szarycz

    Sluttering: a non-issue

    There is a lot of anti-establishment resentment pent-up out there that sometimes spills over into the streets. The establishment is paranoid about the impact any public rage may have, so it’s in their interest to divert any such resentment into causes that look stupid, as long as they are peaceful, don’t cause property damage and don’t call for the abolishment of any privelages or institutions enjoyed by the establishment. That way, it’s a win-win situation. People get to vent off their anger carrying banners with stupid slogans written across them, others with built up frustrations and watching this will be deterred from carrying anything like it into the streets themselves, afraid now of looking just as stupid, and the establishment will carry on as usual. Everyone goes home happy. The establishment had to come up with some kind of insurance policy in face of the Arab Spring. So when a non-issue wins the day, that’s your establishment’s insurance policy. Additionally, as a bonus, a decade from now the term slut may be written into the dictionaries as standing for a fashion carnosaur or as someone who walks for peace or progress. So the term will then be cool rather than offensive. Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton and Amy Winefield could then be described only as mother Teresa’s for lack of better words. Oh the politically correct world we live in, obsessively fucused on terminological sentiments.

    Reply
  3. Peter Szarycz

    Slutwalk revisited. Felines moody. Moreover, there is more to this Slutwalk than meets the eye. Ok, the feline media had hyped the image of cops for about two years, in connection to certain high profile arrests, and I know which ones. But because of Hollywood and all that feline power stuff women feel empowered, act macho and constantly run stop signs and such. Although the cop media representatives were all blushing about their media hype for a while, a lot of front line cops despite all the sensitivity training have been coming a little hard on stop sign and red light feline runners. Women activists sensed that, that the honeymoon was over when it came to practical matters (no breaks) at least, so as a way of revenge, and felines always need to have their revenge when things don’t go their way, they decided to take back what they gave to cops with interest (a demonstration of feline power – if you’re not with us, you’re against us), so they totally trashed their image. And now that’s what the other people are left with – pissed off cops who block off all the street lanes when ever there’s a traffic accident as a way of showing to the public – keep away from us, keep your 100 foot distance, and pissed off felines who slut their way through streets. Yes, the adults are in charge.

    Reply

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