From One Survivor to Another

July 29, 2011

Stupid bullshit excuses people use to not support SlutWalk(s)

edit: Looking back at this months later, and after reading a lot of stuff on SlutWalk and race, I am kind of embarrassed by how easily I gloss over the race issue. I think this list is good except for that one section. I apologize if I have offended anyone.

I keep hearing this same bullshit come up over and over again from self-proclaimed “allies”, and it is starting to piss me off. So, without further ado…

1. OMG “slut” is a bad word! Why are people calling themselves bad words? AKA “language-will-stay-the-same-forever-and-ever”.

First of all, where the fuck have you been for the last decade? Do you not understand that language is flexible and changes over time? Have you not seen the rise of netspeak, texting shorthand, and even new slang in recent years? Language is not some static, never-changing monolith that we have to adhere to strictly.

Maybe this is because there are so many new Third Wave “Feminists” who don’t know two shits about the history of Feminism, and who have never learned about how “dyke”, “bitch”, “queer”, and other words were reclaimed. I guess we should just abandon “gay”, since we all know that’s been forever tainted by homophobes. And what about the whole “black is beautiful” thing from the 60s? Was that just a big anomaly?

Learn your WST (and all) History, for all of our sakes.  Word reclamation happens. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable; get over it.

2. SlutWalks capitulate to patriarchal norms of beauty and sexuality, AKA “I-just-finished-my-WST-101-class-and-now-I-think-all-sex-is-bad-based-on-my-rudimentary-understanding-of-theory”.

People who use this bullshit excuse have obviously not even looked at pictures or seen footage of the activists at SlutWalk. Are you saying that men in wheelchairs, women in their pajamas, and people wearing work clothes carrying signs that say “this is what I wore when I was raped” are seriously appealing to “patriarchal beauty norms”? And what about people of color, or trans men and trans women? These people certainly don’t fit into an anglo-european-centric, cis-gendered standard of beauty. Way to miss the point entirely on that whole “what you wear doesn’t influence whether or not you are sexually assaulted” thing. And thank you for slut-shaming.

Newflash: objectification is a normal part of life— we do it all of the time. It happens in healthy relationships, too. We are sexual beings, and we can’t deny that. If you said all objectification was bad, then you would not be able to be sexual. At all. Objectification is only a bad thing when people are made to be less than human (such as disembodied women in ads, comparisons of women of color to “primal” or “exotic”, etc). Since the people at SlutWalks are speaking out (which, by definition, empowers you as human), I don’t see how they could be objectified in a dehumanizing way.

When people use this excuse, what I’m really hearing is “let’s all conform to puritanical standards of dress and behave politely”. What I hear is the same kind of second wave, exclusive thought that kicked out lesbians for being a “lavender menace”, or black women for not being “relevant”. Why did they do this? To appeal to a white, male power structure. This excuse is essentially “let’s be good little boys and girls and appeal to the people in charge instead of standing up for ourselves”.

3. People at SlutWalks are making a fool of themselves.

Please refer to 1 and 2. If you say this, you obviously have no clue what you are talking about. Half of this is to be ironic, camp, and funny. The other half is dead serious. If you judge people as “fools” based on how they dress and act, then you’re just buying into certain standards of beauty, behavior, and silence.

4. SlutWalk is an exclusively white movement, AKA “I-see-something-I-don’t-like-but-I’m-just-gonna-sit-here-and-do-nothing-about-it”.

Since SlutWalk originated in Canada and then the United States, it has been a whole lot of white people. However, it has spread to India, Mexico, Korea, and other places. As I said in 2, I have seen plenty of non-white, non-cis people. And really, if you think SlutWalk isn’t including people of color (or other diversities) enough, why don’t you go and do something about it? I am Asian American, Transgendered, and Appalachian. I’m doing my part. Where are you in this?

I’ve seen arguments that for women of color, who have always been boxed into the exoticized whore stereotype, that the idea of dressing like a “slut” is an insult. I can’t decide this, since I am a man, but wouldn’t embracing your sexuality in a space that transcends male gaze be empowering? I mean, you would be taking it back from other people and making it your own. I do understand where this comes from, however.

5. There are more important issues than dress codes, AKA “I-can’t-think-of-anything-beyond-the-most-immediate-and-relevant”.

I guess you must have missed the boat too on the “what you wear doesn’t influence whether or not you’re raped” issue. You also haven’t seen how SlutWalk has incorporated issues of sexual abuse, birth control, harassment, and marital expectations. This is about so much more than just “dress codes”— it’s about women and men having the right to be free of intimidation, social coercion, and other backwards bullshit that blames the victims instead of the attackers.

It doesn’t even matter if SlutWalk doesn’t make legal changes (although it has), because it is still providing people who are marginalized a space to express themselves. Gay Pride Rallies are not for straight people; they’re for gay people to have a space to just feel awesome, express themselves, and understand that they are not alone. They give people a space to stand in solidarity with an entire community. The more things like this are publicized rather than kept in silence, the more it will be acceptable and okay for everyone. You can’t make social change unless you speak out first.

6. Why “Sluts”? Why can’t we just be people? AKA “I-just-learned-what-post-modernism-is-and-now-I’m-taking-it-to-the-point-of-absurdly-attempting-to-escape-all-language”.

You know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with labels. They give us a useful way to discover patterns of common existence and being. Note that there is a difference between a stereotype and a pattern; a stereotype erases all possibility of difference or personal story and is based on demeaning ideas, while a pattern simply states that yes, there are some commonalities and there will always be exceptions. I self-identify with a whole laundry list of labels because they provide a sense of belonging for me. Labels can be absolutely wonderful when the people who are being labeled are the ones deciding which ones they fit; it’s when they spiral out of control and erase voices that it becomes a problem.

When I see this argument of “colorblindness” or “difference-blindness”, it feels like privileged shorthand for “I am too lazy to understand or know your culture, so let’s all just be people and be happy together! Hooray!” Unfortunately, things are not that simple.

In the words of Michael Kimmel:

A white woman and a black woman were discussing whether all women were, by definition, “Sisters,” because they all had essentially the same experiences and because all women faced a common oppression by men. The white woman asserted that the fact that they were both women bonded them, in spite of racial differences. The black woman disagreed.

    “When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, what do you see?” she asked.

    “I see a woman,” replied the white woman.

    “That’s precisely the problem,” responded the black woman. “I see a black woman. To me, race is visible every day, because race is how I am not privileged in our culture. Race is invisible to you, because it’s how you are privileged. It’s why there will always be differences in our experience.”

    As I witnessed this exchange, I was startled, and groaned - more audibly, perhaps, than I had intended. Being the only man in the room, someone asked what my response had meant.

    “Well,” I said, “when I look in the mirror, I see a human being. I’m universally generalizable. As a middle-class white man, I have no class, no race, and no gender. I’m the generic person!”

    Sometimes, I like to think that it was on that day that I became a middle-class white man. Sure, I had been all those before, but they had not meant much to me. I enjoyed the privilege of invisibility.

The difference-blindness argument is personally insulting to a lot of people, and it often comes from a place of privilege and lazy ignorance. Asking us to just call each other “people” is not a challenge to greater acceptance and diversity; it’s an erasure of our identities. Not to mention, it ignores the whole reclaiming “slut” thing.

7. Women who dress slutty deserved to be raped.

No. Just no. There have been numerous studies done that show that most rapists don’t give two shits about what the other person is wearing. In fact, only a tiny percentage even remember afterwards. Although rape does happen to people who are younger, it affects all people regardless of race, class, gender, or other status. So no, clothes do not influence rapists in the least.

All people have the right to not be raped, regardless of circumstances.

That is all I can think of at the moment. Please tell me if I missed something.

  1. asiananeurysm reblogged this from fromonesurvivortoanother and added:
    THIS THIS A MILLION TIMES THIS. Slutwalk Calgary has been rescheduled for August 20th. I hope to see thousands of proud...
  2. fishnetsandmalice reblogged this from jkdkdjwgkrjdj
  3. tattoosandblues reblogged this from 40h4error
  4. howlwehscreamweh reblogged this from 40h4error and added:
    oh hey a good post
  5. peachtwinkle reblogged this from tomsellecksspookyshorts
  6. bigmacqueen reblogged this from fromonesurvivortoanother
  7. 40h4error reblogged this from fromonesurvivortoanother and added:
    I’ll now refer anyone who misunderstands SlutWalks to this post.
  8. fromonesurvivortoanother posted this