The Slut Walk: A Step Backwards

Recently as I was riding the bus home from work I saw an infamous poster which I had heard about from a friend. It was a poster advertising a “Slut Walk.” This was rather a shock given the assumption I was under that feminists only want what’s best for women.

About a month later I noticed another large billboard in the subway station which displayed a pie chart and stated that the men who rape women are 100% responsible for rapes committed against women. Again I was confused by this advertisement.

I’ve read the story about the Toronto police officer’s off hand remarks about a woman’s clothing choices and protecting herself from rape. It appears the organizers of the slut walk are attempting to redefine the stigma attached to the word slut from, a woman who is sexually unrestrained to, “someone who isn’t ashamed of their sexual, consensual proclivities”. (1) The only difference I see between these two definitions is that one contains shame and the other does not.

Why does the word slut have a negative connotation?

A woman, her soul, and her body are beautiful and sacred things. Due to her intrinsic value what a woman does with her body matters. This intrinsic dignity belongs to men as well, when a man violates a woman he violates his own dignity. My point is, sex matters. Sex is a meaningful act which contains both the ability to give life and the ability to give pleasure and connection. To say I want the pleasure but not that other messy function is to say that I love part of a woman, but not the whole. Perhaps the word slut has a negative connotation because it represents someone, male or female, who has denied their own human value, who has taken less for what should be more.

I stand for a world in which we love the whole person.

Therefore, I am strongly opposed to the slut walk. I see the slut walk as an opportunity to continue and propagate the same negative connotation placed on women for far too long. Show me a Modesty Walk in which women show that they are not pieces of meat, but whole human beings deserving of complete love and nothing less. That is a walk I would support wholeheartedly.

If the goal of feminism is to empower, raise up, and free women from the inequalities that have been placed on them, isn’t it time to recognize what the real goal is?

Is removing all responsibility from women empowering them?

No, quite the opposite. When someone robs a child we place no blame on the child, because we know that the child doesn’t know any better. If a grown man walks through a rough part of town, late at night, with gold chains hanging out of his pockets, who would be surprised that he got robbed? Was it his fault? No, he committed no crime, but we can blame him for a lack of prudence and common sense.

A mature adult analyzes their life choices and mitigates their exposure to unnecessary risks.

Ensuring my emotional and physical health is more important than wearing provocative clothing. I would encourage any woman, especially those I love, to protect themselves, to be smart and empowered females. As far as is possible for someone who has never been raped, I understand the horror of such violence. My argument is for women not to confuse pseudo freedom for authentic freedom. The slut walk is an endorsement for false freedom. On the other hand, taking care of one’s emotional and psychological health is true freedom. Together, we must grow and recognize a horrible solution to a gruesome problem.

Quote Citation:

(1): http://www.blogto.com/city/2011/03/the_origins_of_slutwalk_toronto/ The origins of SlutWalk Toronto, Posted by Derek Flack, March 11, 2011

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7 comments on “The Slut Walk: A Step Backwards

  1. Jana says:

    You might want to check out an awesome documentary on a similar subject called, “Miss Representation”.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I agree….slut walk is not a way to reclaim one’s power. It is an interesting perspective in dealing with a type of helplessness or disempowerment.

  3. Michaela says:

    The Slutwalk is more than just saying that women should be able to dress “Provocatively” or that women want to “reclaim” the word slut or that we should all be having sex all the time. It’s not that at all. It’s not trying to take away responsibilities that people have to protect and respect themselves. It’s aimed at raising awareness of how the term slut is thrown around and used to demean mostly women, but also transgenders and men, when they exhibit any behaviour that is seen as “overtly sexual” by society at large.

    Sexual behaviour is extremely taboo in our culture, especially for women. We are told daily to dress appropriately while sexual images are shoved in our faces. Both are idealized, neither one is right. Because, no matter how we dress or behave, one sexual act that hetero-patriarchal culture doesn’t approve of and we are labeled as a “slut”. It is used to shame us and humiliate us, and it does just that. This label is a real cause of fear in our society and it causes us to lose power and entitlement over our bodies, sexually, physically and mentally. We can try to mitigate these threats all we want, but as long as this mentality still exists HOW CAN ANYONE EXPRESS THEMSELVES AS THEY WANT TO WHEN THESE LABELS THREATEN EVERY CHOICE THEY MAKE.

    The point is to debase this term, and show that no one is a slut, no matter what they wear, do or think. This protest isn’t there to use nice words and side-step the issue. We want to be able to responsibly express our sexuality in a world that can honestly respect our choices. The point is to take away the controlling power of the term “slut” so that we can express ourselves equally without fear.

    • Adam says:

      We all want to live without fear Michaela, but what is the appropriate response?

      As to the purpose of the slut walk here are a couple quotes:

      Taken from the “WHY” section of the slutwalk Toronto site:
      “And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.”

      http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/

      Another quote from a co-founder.

      “…we already associate with the modern terminology surrounding ‘slut.’ We use them term positively to define someone who isn’t ashamed of their sexual, consensual proclivities, and this incident seemed like the perfect launching point to spread this definition.”

      http://www.blogto.com/city/2011/03/the_origins_of_slutwalk_toronto/

  4. jennifer says:

    Michaela you raise some good points. I understand that slut is a word bandied about towards young women, transgenders, and pretty well anyone who is deemed promiscuous or displaying a form of non-traditional (whatever that is) sexuality. Slut is a word used to disempower just like the n word or the many derogatory terms used against others? Is this correct?

Thanks!

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