The best deconstruction I’ve read yet: Sex, lies and slutwalking by Lauren Rosewarne.

It came illustrated by this great photo from Anton Bielousov on flickr, too.

A crowd of mostly women, the focus of the shot is a sign saying *BELIEVE IT OR NOT, MY SHORT SKIRT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU*

Canadian women defend their right to safety, no matter what they wear | flickr/Anton Bielousov

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, language, social justice

Tags: , , ,

19 replies

  1. It’s a great piece. Thanks for the pointer to it.
    But… the first two comments. Case in point. Quod erat demonstrandum. Bingo. Just like that. It’s as if they hadn’t even bothered to read the article.

  2. I like this bit:

    The movement of slutwalking is the fascinating phenomena of what happens when the political passions of the second-wave fantastically crash into the third-wave’s warm embrace of sexuality performed in all its spectacular, confronting and revealing glory.

    It’s also a great photo from a diversity point of view. Really shows the range of people who feel affected.
    Sydney’s march is 13 June; I’ll certainly be there.

  3. An interesting aside – the Muslim cleric wasn’t talking about all women, he specifically meant Muslim women in their own home. So even when you are at home, if a non-related male comes in and sees you without your head covering (at a minimum) and can’t stop himself raping you, it is your fault. Which is so much worse in so many ways.

  4. Melbourne’s is on May 28th, I believe.

    • Sydney Slutwalk is 13th June, according to someone on twitter.
      [eta: Oops, sorry orlando – you’d already noted that!]

  5. That ghastly comment in which the old stolen car analogy is dragged out not only made me want to puke, but also reminded me of what I believe is the underlying problem with the idea of slutwalk as a consciousness raising exercise.
    The car analogy doesn’t work because a car is FOR driving. As we know here, a woman is not FOR having sex with/ inserting things in. Unfortunately, under patriarchy, women belong to the caste of people which is designated as being FOR this purpose. That’s why vile commenters on blogs can draw an analogy like that and believe it to be meaningful. I don’t think a protest like this will do anything to change that underlying assumption that women are the designated orifices of society.
    Mind you, it sounds like a fun day out.

  6. Mmm, a nice discussion – better than the Tankard-Reist one I scanned yesterday! I do wish, though, that people would contextualise that Sheik Hilali quote a little better: it was used at the time by Howard to express horror at ‘those people’ and declare that blaming women for rape was ‘preposterous’, rather than to actually tackle the issue of victim-blaming, especially as it shapes the law (remember the woman ‘who couldn’t have been raped’ because of her skinny jeans? or the thousand other ‘but-she-was-wearing-x!’ judgements? But! I’m still sad that I’m missing the Sydney Slutwalk. Amsterdam is having one, but I’m not sure if I’ll make it…

  7. Surely we’re beyond the need to state the bleedingly obvious that men are responsible for rape and not women.

    This bit irked me. Replace the word “men” with “rapists” and it would be right.
    I’m not a fan of the name of this movement, since I’m not a slut (the word has no real meaning, so how could it mean me?), I feel like it sort of leaves me out, even though I agree with the messages of it.
    Reclaiming words is a tricky idea, I think.
    There is a slutwalk in brisbane happening too (I just googled and found out)!/event.php?eid=113713285380507
    I might go.

  8. Mindy, I’m not sure that Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali was saying to Muslim women that ”even when you are at home, if a non-related male comes in and sees you without your head covering (at a minimum) and can’t stop himself raping you, it is your fault.” Though I agree that would be an appalling thing to suggest.
    The Australian quotes him as saying: ”If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.” If the translation is correct, and the quote accurate, then it seems to me that he said a woman is safe from rape if she stays in her own home , and wears her hijab (my italics) … very well hidden indeed, and an even more appalling notion! I’m not surprised, then, by the rapid back-pedalling in response to criticism of his comments from within his own ethno-religious community: ”If a woman who shows herself off, she is to blame … but a man should be able to control himself” … still doesn’t get him off the hook in my opinion.
    That said, the context of the Sheik’s comments appears to be the sentencing of several men for gang rapes of young girls, few (if any) of whom shared their ethno-religious background. That makes me think the Sheik may have been referring to women in general. No wonder there was such a backlash from the rest of the community.

  9. I think the car anaology only works if you believe that a car being stolen is the person who owns it’s fault.
    As for people who blame victims, I’m not sure everybody who tells someone to dress conservatively is an apologist, some of them are unaware that attire plays little to no role in the actions of the criminal.
    Many of these people have good hearts and just don’t know, but they are often lambasted with a lack of understanding and anger, often from people who hold plenty of privilege and prejudices themselves.
    Tolerance in it’s original meaning goes a long way.

  10. Interesting op-ed from Judith Timson, who I think is missing something crucial.

    That is a contradiction I feel is not owned up to in the SlutWalk movement. Yes, women should be able to dress exactly how they please without becoming sexual targets. But dressing with your breasts cantilevered and hanging out has conveyed a sexual message for all of eternity.

    Of course dressing “slutty” is about conveying a sexual message. Conveying a sexual message is not an invitation to sexual assault.
    Just because someone is feeling sexy, and perhaps has actively gone out “on the pull” and dressed accordingly, shouldn’t make them a target. Looking for somebody is not the same as available to anybody.

  11. Sigh. Attitudes like Timson’s really make me despair sometimes. Just because something is available doesn’t make it a free for all. We accept that in so many other ways.

  12. Don’t read the comments on that article. Really, don’t.

  13. Yes those ideas only work if you assume that MEN are allowed to go out looking for sex and retain bodily autonomy, but that WOMEN either don’t go out looking for sex, or if they do that they can’t object to rape; which further implies that rape and sex are the same.

  14. The first time I found myself bewildered by the “one in – all in” attitude to women who have sex was way back when I read A Streetcar Named Desire in high school. We know social attitudes have no relationship to logic, but somehow keep hoping that journalists will regard it as part of their job to apply a little.
    CR brings up a key point that’s been bothering me about the media coverage of the Slutwalks, namely that it seems to be framed as demanding a right, rather than exploding a myth. The participants are presented as demanding the right to wear what they want and live as they want, and the response is often, “well, that would be very nice, dear, but it’s not the reality of the world.” We are not hearing nearly enough about how the cop’s original statement was factually untrue.

  15. Reading these comments after reading those on the article has really restored my faith in humanity.

  16. Was on ‘Kids Free 2B Kids’ Facebook page as I support the movement against the sexualisation of children. However, by posting an article on how SlutWalk is harmful to women, I felt that a line had been crossed from anti child sexualisation into just plain anti-sex. When it comes to adults, I am all for freedom of sexual expression, regardless and inclusive of how one identifies. My comments on the page were continually rebutted with ‘yeah but – I hate the word slut’ and ‘why can’t women protest with dignity?’ (because obviously if you wear a short skirt and show cleavage you have no dignity…), and to me, that is not a good enough reason to dismiss an entire movement that has mobilised men and women to speak out against sexual violence, victim blaming and slut shaming.

  17. Wow! The Sydney Slutwalk has almost 2000 definite attendees on facebook, plus almost 700 maybes. And that’s just on the fb. I’m impressed 🙂

  18. Yes: Jen Vuk has an article in the SMH which isn’t…bad once you get past the initial paragraph or two about the cops ‘fatherly’ advice and how could he have known it would be ‘taken literally’? He bloody well meant it literally. He meant that women ‘dressed like sluts’ cause their own rape to happen. Hence the movement. And that’s *not* fatherly. Or it shouldn’t be.

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