“SlutWalks”: Compounding stupidity with more stupidity

Posted by: ST on May 6, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I have to admit, I’d never heard of “SlutWalks” before today, and after reading this, I’m really wishing I hadn’t:

BOSTON – This social movement really gets around.

An international series of protests known as SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer’s flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to avoid being raped or victimized, is taking root in the United States.

Some women and men who protest dress in nothing more remarkable than jeans and T-shirts, while others wear provocative or revealing outfits to bring attention to “slut-shaming,” or shaming women for being sexual, and the treatment of sexual assault victims.

“It was taking the blame off the rapist and on the victim,” said Nicole Sullivan, 21, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an organizer of the SlutWalk planned Saturday in that city. “So we are using these efforts to reclaim the word `slut.'”

The police officer made his comments in January to a group of York University students at a safety forum. He later apologized, but his comments were publicized widely on Facebook and Twitter. They inspired a march in Toronto last month that drew more than 3,000 people, as well as SlutWalks since then in Dallas, Asheville, N.C., and Ottawa, Ontario.

In addition to Boston, marches are planned in cities including Seattle; Chicago; Philadelphia; Reno, Nev.; and Austin, Texas.

“The event is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault,” said Siobhan Connors, 20, of Lynn, Mass., another Boston organizer. “It’s to bring awareness to the shame and degradation women still face for expressing their sexuality … essentially for behaving in a healthy and sexual way.”

The events are similar to “Take Back the Night” rallies and other marches that aim to bring attention to sexual violence. But there are key differences.

SlutWalkers have danced to hip-hop, worn T-shirts with the word “slut” and held signs that read “sluts pay taxes.” Some women have skated around on Rollerblades in lingerie, while their male supporters wore shirts reading, “I love sluts.”

Right.  Because nothing says “behaving in a healthy and sexual way” like women skating around on Rollerblades in lingerie on a public street.  Yes, people – the Feminist Irresponsibility Movement is, sadly, still alive and well after all this time.

First things first:  It goes without saying that the comments by the Toronto law enforcement officer were extremely irresponsible, especially considering the position he’s in.  Whether a woman is dressed “like a slut” (and the definition for that phrase is something we can discuss later) or not doesn’t mean she deserved to be sexually assaulted, raped, etc.  It also doesn’t mean that she “asked for it.”

That being said (and you knew there was a “but” coming, right?),  I go back to what I’ve said before on this issue:

No woman who dresses overtly sexy “wants” to get raped, but sometimes it happens. It should be ok to say “Watch how you dress, because you know how some people will look at you and get the wrong impression and act on it,” but that’s not politically correct and is seen as somehow “blaming” the victim, when in actuality what you’re saying to a woman about protecting herself is no different than what you’d say to a young adult being trusted to be at the mall by themselves, or with their friends. You tell them: Don’t talk to strangers, don’t walk by yourself anywhere, and don’t get in the car with anyone you don’t know. Such advice is not 100% foolproof against sexual assault or kidnapping, but it could lessen the chances of it happening.

That’s the way the officer in question should have approached the delicate issue of taking care and being more responsible, but unfortunately he didn’t. And as a result, his rank stupidity has been compounded by the off-the-charts stupidity of the “SlutWalks” gang, which has seen women “celebrate” their sexuality by parading down public streets scantily dressed while male “supporters” take advantage of the situation by expressing their “support” for a woman’s “right” to dress provocatively – kinda like those male supporters of the “Women should be allowed to walk around outside topless” movement, who no doubt are on board with such “rights” movements solely because they want to be able to enjoy the “view” should such a law ever pass nationwide.

As to what constitutes “dressing like a slut” – well, for some people (a minority) anything that shows any skin at all is “slutty.”  But for must of us, what constitutes dressing irresponsibly, which in turn draws unnecessary attention to someone, is when that person is wearing something that shows more flesh than it does fabric.  I wrote a piece a few years ago on how to dress appropriately in the workplace, and I think the same rule applies to personal lives as well:

Women’s clothing, whether intended to or not, sends a message to the person looking at what they’re wearing. Some women know this better than others. Case in point: I was talking to a friend recently who worked as an admin assistant at a company here in Charlotte. She said her entire office (of about 75 people) recently had to revise their dress code because of several instances of two women in the office who were wearing tops that revealed their stomachs and cleavage, and pants so tight that they left nothing whatsover to the imagination. What happened was that office management was afraid to say anything to women out of fear of being accused of being ‘sexist’ and a lawsuit being filed so instead of reprimanding them directly, they changed the dress code for the entire office to make it clear what was acceptable and what wasn’t (their dress code, which stated “business casual” on all days, was obviously vague), which meant that even the people who had been dressing in what most people would consider appropriate business casual even had to change what they were wearing to a certain extent because it didn’t fit the exact criteria. In other words, the whole office had to be punished for the actions of a few, because the management there were paralyzed with fear at how the women who were dressing that way would respond if they took them to the side and talked to them individually. At least one of the women knew that the revised dress code was because of how she dressed, and she complained about the revised code to other co-workers, saying it was ‘too restrictive.’

I dress “business casual” at my work, which usually includes a v-necked cotton top and khaki slacks, sometimes with sandals and sometimes with tennis shoes or slide-ons. I’m always very conscious of how the v-neck hangs on me and adjust accordingly if I think it’s slipped too low, but even at that, I’ve noticed that whether I’m wearing something high-necked or v-necked, the situation is stil the same: sometimes when people are talking to me they’re not looking into my eyes, if you catch my drift. I’ve gotten used to it – and I don’t get offended by it, as some women often do. I just figure it’s human nature and it’s not going to change. But I also know at the same time that the people at my work respect my work regardless of what their opinions are of certain things about the way I dress. If I felt that I was being unfairly judged on the basis of how I dressed, I would talk to my manager about it, because I always take the better safe than sorry approach at work in how I dress, so it would be odd indeed to have someone judge me and my work on the basis of the way I dress.

Women need to play it safe in the workforce, rather than taking chances with what they wear. Common sense dictates that wearing something too tight and/or too far above the knee is going to attract attention, just the same as something that is cut too low. This is a good rule of thumb to follow: If it’s not something you’d want your 15 year old daughter to show out on a date, it’s probably not a good idea for you to show it at your work.

Nor is it a good idea for you to show too much of it when you’re “out on the town”, either. 

If anyone in the “SlutWalks” movement had anything remotely close to a clue, this is what they’d be saying – rather than, once again, making the movement all about guilt-free personal sexual irresponsibility.    This is “me-first” generation nonsense that is not just juvenile but also extremely dangerous.  Yes, victims of sexual crimes need to be assured that they are NOT to blame for what happened to them, but ALL women need to try to lessen the possibility of a sexual crime happening, and that includes taking such precautions as self-defense training, locking your car doors when you’re traveling, shutting and locking your windows where you live before it gets dark – most definitely before you go to bed,  walking in groups if at all possible, not taking your eyes off your beverage if you’re in a club/party environment, not drinking so much that you can’t put two words together, much less a complete sentence, and – yes, dressing to compliment your figure without showing so much thigh and/or cleavage that you leave nothing to the imagination.    This is just plain old fashioned common sense.  If that makes me an “antique” or a “prude” or a “grandma in waiting” then so be it.  

I choose to lessen my chances of becoming a victim by taking sensible approaches to my every day life when it comes to my safety.  I pray that the women of “SlutWalks” don’t have to learn the hard way that advocating irresponsibility can sometimes lead to the unthinkable happening.  It’s one “Toldjah So” I wouldn’t relish saying.

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17 Responses to ““SlutWalks”: Compounding stupidity with more stupidity”

Comments

  1. CHOW says:

    This proves that feminism, at its heart, is anit-woman. The irony of women ‘reclaiming’ the word slut is obviously lost on the souls. Any misogynistic would welcome a woman openly associating with herself being a slut. Because, as with abortion, it allows men an out to objectify women. If I were a mysogynmist, I would consider feminism to be my greatest ally.

    Are feminist really this dense?

  2. quiznilo says:

    I don’t believe this really happened… I want to see pics! :d

  3. Zilla says:

    A little common sense goes a long way. Of course if someone is brutalized it is the fault of the attacker, but why make it any easier for a creep with bad intentions to accomplish his nefarious deed? If I have to go out alone at night, I think it will be more of a hassle for someone to get at me through my jeans and sweatshirt than it would be if I were walking around in a very short skirt and wearing nothing but lingerie on top. And if I’m end up in such a situation, the extra seconds that a bad guy will need to get through my clothes to get to my goodies may just buy me enough time to fight back, perhaps even stab the guy in the eye with my keys, stomp on his junk and run to safety. Maybe not, but I’d rather put myself at the least amount of disadvantage if I can.

    One more thing: feminism is the worst thing to happen to human females since islam.

  4. Phineas says:

    “Reclaiming” slut? I don’t think they’ve thought through what the word “reclaims” means. Are they really trying to take back control of a word that’s never been anything but an insult? :-

    As for the rest, well, I’ll admit to being ambivalent. I see your point, ST, but it reminds me a bit of what happens under Islamic law, wherein the woman is made responsible for the man’s sexual misbehavior. When you say she should take precautions regarding her attire, that seems to necessarily imply some degree of responsibility on her part and some small lessening of the responsibility borne by the attacker. I know you don’t mean that, but the subtext is there nevertheless.

    Fact is, whether a woman wears a burqa or a thong bikini in public, the responsibility for self-control (and for the crime, if self-control fails) is the man’s and the man’s alone. He’s not a beast operating solely on instinct; he has a mind and a soul, and what he does he does by choice.

    As for the demonstrators themselves, they sound rather childish.

    PS: Speaking of “proper precautions,” I think being aware of one’s environment and having good locks is the best precaution one can take. And, to be honest, I’m of the opinion that every woman should own a gun, learn how to shoot, and have a concealed-carry permit.

  5. Scarlett says:

    Here’s a piece of delicate irony of which many (people who value good taste and civility) are not aware: If one of these ladies doesn’t like another lady-say because that other lady reminds her of somebody like Sarah Palin–guess what she will call her, in addition to other crude epithets…?

  6. ST says:

    As for the rest, well, I’ll admit to being ambivalent. I see your point, ST, but it reminds me a bit of what happens under Islamic law, wherein the woman is made responsible for the man’s sexual misbehavior. When you say she should take precautions regarding her attire, that seems to necessarily imply some degree of responsibility on her part and some small lessening of the responsibility borne by the attacker. I know you don’t mean that, but the subtext is there nevertheless.

    In my view, it no more implies some degree of responsibility on the woman for being raped than advising a woman to make sure she has her windows and doors locked at night before she goes to bed. As far as any similarities to Islam, Islamists oppose abortion, too but that doesn’t keep us from talking about it or seeing anything ugly for being pro-life. Equivalencies can be drawn between more than just a few beliefs held by conservatives here in the US and Islam if you’re talking about Islam at its least extreme level (abortion is an example of that). The big difference being, of course, that Islam is by its very nature extreme and thus it takes everything, including a woman’s style of dress, to the extreme. For the most part, we don’t do that here because we’re a much more civilized lot.

    I grew up with two older sisters and my mom and dad would not have dared to allow us out of the house wearing anything provocative, not because they didn’t trust us – it was other people they didn’t trust. Mothers have been giving their daughters this advice since the beginning of time. Why is it that we’re allowed to talk about this in the privacy of our own homes, and its ok, but we can’t talk in public about women needing to be more careful about the way they dress as part of an overall discussion on how to protect ourselves? Our society has been conditioned to put everything on the table when it comes to women’s safety except for the way they dress. The fact of the matter is that some guys out there go out looking for trouble, they go out looking for someone who gives off the appearance of being an “easy lay” — or “easy prey.” As I said in my post, the style of dress does not in any way condone their vile behavior, but we as a society need to stop ignoring the elephant in the room when it comes to women being more responsible with how they dress. Women are more empowered when they have all the knowledge they need at hand, not when the discussion is cut off. I wouldn’t dream of walking by myself in a bad part of town – common sense tells me not to do that. I wouldn’t dream of going out to a club or other similar places alone, nor dressed in a micro-mini and tube top – common sense tells me that, too. Adhering to common sense would solve so many issues we had in this country, if talking common sense wasn’t so controversial and un-PC.

  7. Phineas says:

    I wouldn’t dream of walking by myself in a bad part of town – common sense tells me not to do that. I wouldn’t dream of going out to a club or other similar places alone, nor dressed in a micro-mini and tube top – common sense tells me that, too. Adhering to common sense would solve so many issues we had in this country, if talking common sense wasn’t so controversial and un-PC.

    The trouble with commonsense is that while it seems rational and, well, sensible, it isn’t always right. I got curious about the connection between rape and provocative clothing and went looking to see if some research had been done. Didn’t find any, but I did stumble across a recent thread on a message board that dealt with the very same topic. (Maybe the original poster was motivated by the same “slut walk” news as you, ST.) Anyway, I found two things of interest that I’ll offer here. The first is from the National Library of Medicine:

    Most commonly, the rapist is a 25 – 44-year-old man who plans his attack. He usually chooses a woman of the same race.
    Nearly half the time, the victim knows the rapist from working or living near him.
    Alcohol is involved in more than one out of three rapes.
    Over one-half of rapes occur in the victim’s home. The rapist breaks into the victim’s home or gains access under false pretenses, such as asking to use the phone or posing as a repairman or salesman.

    No mention of clothing, but that could only mean it was never surveyed.

    Next, from the same thread, is something from a woman who claims to work with rapists and pedophiles:

    Having worked with my share of rapists and pedophiles, I really don’t think they care what you are wearing, most times it’s all about power.

    I worked with a guy who’s victims were in their 70’s.. Maybe her slacks were too tight hey?

    Most cases of rape are date rape scenarios where alcohol is involved. Drugs are often used too. So caution in how much one imbibes and staying with a group of friends you trust when going out would go a long way toward prevention.

    Obviously dressing in a provocative manner will garner more attention, but if the above preventatives are in place, one is still safer than if the woman were to wear a baggy sweatshirt, allow herself to get drunk and separated from the group.

    Like I said, I’m agnostic on this. Your advice sounds like something that sure couldn’t hurt, but I don’t know if it would help all that much, either.

  8. ST says:

    If it didn’t help all that much, then mothers would’t have been telling their daughters for decades not to dress in a way that will give a guy the wrong impression, and husbands wouldn’t be concerned about their wives dressing provacatively when going out for a “girls night out” with her friends. Even if only 5% of all rapes in this country were motivated, in part, by a guy getting the wrong impression about a girl who is wearing a plunging neckline top and supertight mini, that would be almost 10,000 rapes that may not have happened.

    Situational awareness is key here. The point is to lessen your chances of becoming a victim. I’m gonna do everything in my power to prevent that from happening.

  9. Great White Rat says:

    From Phineas:

    And, to be honest, I’m of the opinion that every woman should own a gun, learn how to shoot, and have a concealed-carry permit.

    Agreed. Now if the libs applied the same logic about rights to that issue as they do to abortion, they’d be saying something like:

    “While I am personally opposed to personal firearm ownership, I would not restrict a woman’s right to choose whether or not to own and/or carry a gun for self-protection.”

  10. Great White Rat says:

    Phineas, I’ll grant you that what a woman wears isn’t going to be a factor in the case of the predator who’s preselected a victim to gratify some twisted urge for power or who has some grudge against women in general. As you pointed out in one of your quotes, vermin who assault septuagenarian woman certainly aren’t motivated by short tight skirts.

    That said, you and I both know there are some men whose hormones go out of control based on how a woman presents herself, and will rationalize away their lack of self-control by claiming “shes looking for it”. Some of those rapes CAN be prevented by some awareness by women of how to dress, and no, that does NOT mean it’s her fault in some way. ST’s right on this one.

    Let’s not make the good be the enemy of the perfect here. Anything within reason that can prevent some proportion of these crimes is worth doing.

  11. Carlos says:

    One of the problems with this discussion is that Hollyweird has glamorized “the slut factor” so greatly that kids (and young adults) cannot grasp that the clothes they wear make a statement about them, and dressing like a slut screams to every breathing male within eyesight, “Here I am, and I may or may not charge for it!”, whether that’s how she, the dresser, really feels or not.

    My youngest stepson, when in high school, dressed like he was from the ‘hood, with pants down around his knees and a hat on sideways. He looks back at those days and wonders what he was thinking then.

    Of course, it helps that he’s got two daughters now that he knows he’ll be worrying about in the not-to-distant future, and the last thing he’ll want is for them to dress like sluts.

  12. Kate says:

    So True Carlos…..it’s also important that the girls have a strong relationship with their dad as it is one of the best ways a girl can feel loved and not go looking for love in all the wrong places. Of course, when girls are rebellious and mom says you can’t go out wearing that, they already have Plan B in order…they take the offending outfit, stuff it in their backpack and change in the car or a local fast food restaurant bathroom. Believe it.

    But the notion that by “reclaiming” the word slut is silly. But, I guess Afro-Americans have already reclaimed the “n” word…how’s that workin’ for you bro?

    Media forces kids to grow up too soon. Try to dress like adults. Plays up adult behavior in TV shows and movies as a cool thing to do that EVERYONE is doing. Nothing new under the sun.

  13. Carlos says:

    I agree, Kate. All the kids are so “individualized” now that they all look alike – as automatons!

  14. captaingrumpy says:

    If women think that if they dress like a slut,then men won’t treat them like one then they are on another planet. You have all heard the claim the “clothes maketh the man”.
    This is true in a lot of cases ,but not all.However,If I see a women walking the street and dressed like a slut,then…..I think maybe my luck will change. It’s a pity that today,women of this younger generation say they can dress however they want to.They can,but they MUST accept SOME of the responsibility for doing so.”You don’t advertise a party ,when you are going to a funeral”.

  15. eaglewingz08 says:

    I’m sure that a person walking drunk in a high crime neighborhood at 3am in the morning doesn’t intend or desire to be robbed or worse, and doesn’t deserve to be robbed or worse, but by doing so, he/she creates the occasion/opportunity for sin. This is not ‘blaming the victim’, but a call for persons to act with some amount of common sense. If you act foolishly, odds are that negative things will befall you.

  16. Heather says:

    You clearly have a lot to say on this topic and want your voice to be heard, as do the thousands of women, men and all genders who are taking part in SlutWalks. SlutWalk at it’s core is about fighting, as you point out, damaging ideas of victim-blaming and slut-shaming that place responsibility on the survivor or victim of sexual assault. It is also about supporting conversations that question our language around people and the respect they deserve or don’t deserve, about finding more ways to support survivors of sexual assault and everyone impacted by these terrible crimes, and about supporting the idea that language does shift (because we have all seen it shift) and people can choose their own self-expression towards feeling good, healthy and happy. Just as you choose your clothing for you, your descriptions of a Southern belle for you, others choose things that work for them. By condescending individual’s thoughtful, reflective, empowering and consensually chosen forms of expression you instill more shame. I appreciate the time you took to consider this topic and your acknowledgment that blame should not rest with the survivor of an assault but I’d like to address some damaging idea you continue to perpetuate.

    You equate the way women should be treated and how women should think with the way children and young adults are treated. Essentially, women should always be viewed as 16 year old teenagers in how they’re told to behave?

    You also bring into question what constitutes a ‘slut’ – something I’m grateful you did, as we believe these conversations need to happen. However we’ve been having these conversations similar conversations throughout SlutWalk, and, like you, this is a kind of conversation we think is incredibly valuable (and not stupid) to try to get people thinking about the insults they hurl, what they mean and the way that people are treated. You refer to yourself as someone having older and conservative views yet many, many people who’ve criticized SlutWalk and the people behind it would deem your opinions as “stupid”, useless, and feminist and therefore a waste of time, and even advocating a bit of slutiness. The fact that you even disagree with the way the police officer phrased his comment would make you someone without “remotely close to a clue” to a lot of people, and we’re not talking the minority here. Many people have taken the same line of thinking as you in that women need to be aware of their surroundings, what kind of attention their clothing may draw and protecting themselves at any chance they get, yet they would advocate that a v-neck is ‘asking for it’, and even going out to a bar is something “good women” shouldn’t do. Many people have said make-up is slutty, drinking is inappropriate, and a skirt in a workplace is showing you’re a “loose woman” with poor morals. And these aren’t just people on the fringe, these are people who hold positions as upstanding and educated people in our societies: police officers, judges, journalists, business people and teachers hold many of these views.

    Our current cultural climate increasingly encourages people, especially women and girls, to wear more revealing clothing and tighter clothing, to dress older and more sexy, to wear more flashy clothes and more make-up. Yet, the same people are told they’re sluts, they’re stupid, they should be ashamed, they’re ‘asking for it’, and they’re not worth respecting. These are difficult messages to grapple with, especially for children and teenagers. Does dressing more ‘provocatively’ bring on attention? Yes. Does having larger breasts, whether you like them or just happen to be born with them, bring on more attention? Yes. Does being a woman mean you’re more likely to be sexually assaulted and harassed just because of your gender? Yes. Does wearing make-up and high heels at a bar put you in a position to receive more sexual come-ons, possible sexual harassment and ideas from others that you want any kind of sexual attention? Sometimes, but not always. Nurses, waitresses, people who are out jogging, young girls who go through puberty earlier can sometimes say the same things about getting more attention, harassment and people thinking they can assume what they want. We need to acknowledge the reality but in full perspective, not just selectively. And we need to be aware that wanting or getting attention is very different than assault. Someone may dress for attention of some kind, we have all done it, but that does not mean it’s an invitation for assault and that you should be blamed if you are assaulted.

    You also continue to perpetuate the idea that SlutWalk is all about “parading” down the street in a selfish way, yet these walks fall in line with long standing fights against rape, assault and blaming and shaming the survivors of these horrible acts, and that aim to take the attention off of one person and shine it on the many hundreds and thousands who often go unacknowledged. You reference a news article and then immediately frame SlutWalk to be all about one type of aesthetic and person who attends SlutWalk (Rollerblading people in lingerie), which the article did not do, so you can then demean and criticize the entire event, which is very similar to the positions people take when they blame a victim because they ‘must have been a slut’. These tactics blatantly ignore the diverse representation of people who unfortunately experience sexual assault (in their homes, in baggy or covering clothing, amongst friends, in their childhood or at any age, etc.) and the people who come out to SlutWalks. It doesn’t help anyone to pick and choose the facts you want and ignore the rest.

    We may not be your cup of tea and we acknowledge that, you may never want to reclaim slut and we respect that, you may want to take measures to protect yourself and we can support that, but we ask that you show us respect in our choices to stand up and support millions of survivors of sexual assault do did nothing to ‘ask for it’, to find spaces that feel safer in addressing our sexual assault histories and the shame that others have instilled in us, we ask that you allow people to choose their own self-expression in a way that feels empowering, we ask that you do a little research before you write us off as “stupid”, unthinking, selfish and dangerous while you share your criticism (which could be viewed as a self-serving tactic) and say that speaking out against violence, inappropriately placed blame and shame are wrong.

    A co-founder of SlutWalk with years of experience, education, reflection, outreach, shifts after receiving constructive criticism, and conversations with survivors.

  17. ant says:

    If we continue allowing illegal immigration of third-world and Islamic adherents into this Country anything from ‘sweats’ to having your blonde hair down will be considered “asking for it”. Another idea, maybe if we stop releasing recidivist sexual predators back on the streets over and over again, the chances for sexual assault will go down…just a thought.