“This is where we stop blaming the victim. (Slut walk, San Diego 6/11/11)”
This sticker is placed on a lamp post outside of San Diego City Hall – 2nd Avenue and C Street, Downtown, San Diego, California.
I was on the fence about attending the protest that day. I don’t really consider myself much of an “activist”. Plus, the name of the event bothered me. It was called Slutwalk.
Slutwalk was organised in reaction to the words of a Toronto police officer. He said that women should stop dressing “slutty” to avoid getting raped. Since then, Slutwalks have been organised in cities around the world to raise awareness that victim blaming such as this is not only illogical, but incredibly harmful and makes the reporting of rape that much more difficult.
And I can get behind all of that. The idea that the fault of rape belongs to the woman being raped rather than the rapist committing the crime is absolutely heinous. I support the right to dress the way you see fit without fearing violence. However, the title “Slutwalk” was still bothering me. “Slut” is such an offensive word used to degrade women. It is a product of a double-standard that says it is OK for men to enjoy sex and have multiple partners, but not women. It is a word that shames women into hating their bodies. I was hesitant about participating in an event that encouraged rampant use of such a vile word.
With that said, a large contingent of Slutwalkers were there to reclaim the word. The idea is to strip “slut” of its negative connotations and make it an innocuous noun referring to an individual who likes sex. And I can get behind that, too. If you can take the shame out of the word “slut”, you make slut-shaming much more difficult.
The problem is, I don’t feel like I have the right to reclaim the word. I happen to identify as asexual, so “slut” would not be wielded as a weapon against me for enjoying sex. I also tend to dress “modestly” by general society’s standards, and don’t have the label applied to me for dressing “too provocatively” either.
I ended up going to support a friend who was speaking at the event, and I’m glad I did. It was incredibly empowering and uplifting, and I felt that I was able to march in solidarity with all those who identified as sluts. I may not be reclaiming “slut” for myself, but I’ll support you in your effort to do so.