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.