Ladies of the night unite! Also ladies of the daytime! In fact, all ladies, and men, should unite in support of a woman’s right to not be harmed or harassed for a clothing choice, or for being in public without an escort. That, to me, is the heart of the grassroots movement that’s gone global, affectionately called SlutWalks. Reasonable people have disagreed over the name, and other aspects, but no one can say these women aren’t garnering attention and starting a conversation about street harassment, victim blaming, slut shaming and violence against women in general. As Jessica Valenti said so well, in response to an interviewer’s question of why they shouldn’t be called “Empowerment Walks,” “Do you think I’d be sitting here if they were called Empowerment Walks?” I suspect not.
I am a big supporter of SlutWalks, and will be there on August 13 for the DC SlutWalk, albeit dressed for what will undoubtedly be hellishly hot weather and not in my slutty best (I’m thinking a floppy hat, undershirt to absorb the sweat, and an umbrella boy). That said, I get where some of the criticism is coming from. Use of the word slut, while incredibly successful at getting attention, may also be inadvertently distracting from the issue that got the movement started. If people are mostly talking about sluts and not victim-blaming, is that really helping? For more on this and other thoughtful criticism, check out the Feministing post. My hopeful takeaway is that the movement will continue, and continue to listen to thoughtful critics and make it stronger. The SlutWalk handle in all its unabashed and scantily clad glory might be getting more attention to the theater part of the movement than to the victim-blaming aspect, but that’s not all bad. If people are a little shocked and awed, fine. That doesn’t mean they can’t also listen to the message. When I saw the sign for the DC SlutWalk at my local bar, I took the picture you see here in this post. It also started a conversation. Then, as I was blogging about it later, also at the bar, I found myself in multiple conversations about it, talking with all kinds of people. Most of them didn’t know what a SlutWalk was. Now they do.
Stealing again from Jessica Valenti, this is also great for its ability to energize younger women and get them fired up for something they believe in. This is very much an organic, grassroots phenomenon. It may have started in Toronto, with a jackass cop’s comment, but it’s taken its lingerie and bare midriffs across the globe. This is, by and large, a good thing. The older generations have given us a lot, but they won’t solve all the problems before their time is up. We need future generations to care about women’s issues, and if this fuels the fire for the continuation of the movement, I have no problem with that torch being passed to someone in a push-up bra and fishnet thigh highs. As the SlutWalkers say, it’s not the clothes that matter, it’s the recognition that women are people are too. As long as that sentiment goes along with the stilettos, I’m happy.
If you’re in D.C., I hope you stop by on Aug 13. It promises to be fabulous. If you’re not in D.C. and jealous of our SlutWalk (totally acceptable), see if there is one in your area. As a small token of my appreciation for the movement, I submit these suggestions for SlutWalk Twitter hashtags.
Again, here are the details. If you can’t stop by, at least promise to do your part to support your local ladies, regardless of what they wear.
Who: Women – fallen and not- and anyone who believes in freedom of expression and fairness
When: August 13, 12:00pm
Where: Lafayette Park
Why: Because you know you love sluts and hate violence against women
Come rain or shine.
Dress code: open