8 April 2011

The London Slut Walk - The 'S' word should be SEX, not slut

I was just about to post a comment this evening on an article in the London Free Press (Walker objects, Apr 8) when comments were cut off, after only 4 had been posted - all by men. The article was not the first on the local response to the apparent remark by a Toronto cop addressing law students, that 'women should avoid dressing like “sluts” if they didn’t want to be victimized' (What starts with an ‘s’, April 8, LFP).

Following is my comment, mainly in response to comments made by others.

I'm not sure if Jeff is trying to say there should be a Slut Walk? (Megan Walker doesn't like the idea, and Jeff doesn't approve of her kind of activism, he says, so I gather he's all for the Walk by that name). Are you sure you won't be tempted to refer to the marchers as Sluts, Jeff?

There must be a better way to handle this situation.

Mick, the word slut has different connotations according to gender. Men have always been allowed to be proud of their sexual exploits. Not so with women. Most keep quiet about them so they won't be judged.

That's all I wrote. And my response to the other article today by Kelly Pedro is also lacking, in part due to word limits placed on contributions. I would have liked to have added that the s word in question should probably not be 'slut' at all but rather, 'sex'. Focusing on the word slut is distorting the problem, taking the emphasis off a topic that really needs to be discussed, as demonstrated by the lack of understanding by more than one commenter.

It's too bad the comment made by one commenter got deleted. It illustrated some of the attitudes that need to be addressed, instead of women simply demanding their rights to dress provocatively without considering negative consequences. Removing the derogatory comments, what remains of his comment is this:

"Now if I pin money to my shirt,walk late at night and get mugged, can the 'it shouldn't be the way I dress' excuse work too??????"

Nowhere has it been mentioned that women's behaviour is also part of the problem. Being sexually provocative might also result in unwanted attention, just as their attire might. When it comes to sexual violence, it's not always the clothing that matters. If a woman appears vulnerable, or available, she might be more likely to be seen as a target.

One issue I have concern with, regarding the Value Women campaign initiated by Megan Walker, is that it's not inclusive of the idea of 'slut,' or at least of the idea that women are sexual (and may be seen as 'sluttish'). Pushing the problem away is not a solution, either, no more than the opposite, which appears to be that of embracing the notion of women as sluts, as in the Slut Walk.

When women dress in hot outfits, that is exactly what men are thinking of when they use the word 'slut'. And that's probably what the cop meant when he used it and got into trouble for doing so. The word is used so commonly that he obviously used it in the wrong manner, and definitely in the wrong place.

Men don't think like women in matters pertaining to sex. A woman can believe she has rights (as men do too, of course), but if they act as though no one can take away those rights, or that men 'shouldn't', by dressing as they have a right to, sexually provocatively, in the wrong place at the wrong time, they may be increase the chances of being noticed, and place themslves at risk. There is a difference between 'should' and 'what is', and women are being warned by the police that men don't always think or behave rationally when it comes to sex. and if men won't be considerate of women, in such circumstances, then women have to take precautions.

Feminists claim that men have always been in awe of women's sexuality and the power it has over them, so that's one reason why, in general, some men intentionally demean women by referring to them as sluts - putting them in their place, so to speak.

It probably makes some men angry just to see the attitudes of women participating in the Slut Walk. How does that help the problem of 'violence against women.' And how did the walk itself help educate the public about violence against women?

Campaign counters Slut Walk
By Kelly Pedro
London Free Press
April 8, 2011

Slutwalk: "Because We've had Enough"
By Thomas Cermak
London Fuse
April 10, 2011

Walker objects to women being called 'sluts'
By Kelly Pedro
The London Free Press
April 8, 2011

What starts with an ‘s’ and divides women’s groups?
By Kelly Pedro
London Free Press
April 8, 2011
added May 19, 2011

Sex and the SlutWalk (with comments)
by Agenda intern Andrew Lynes
TVO - The Agenda
May 6, 2011