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Why I became a Slut

As you may have gathered from the super-ambitious blog title, marching usually isn’t my thing. Partly this is for highly intellectual and important reasons, which have long been pointed out by other feminists, such as the fact that it usually tires out the protesters far more than their opponents, or the fact that demonstrates the lack of numbers committed to the cause more often than it sends a terrifying battle-cry that leaves leaders fearing the next revolution. Partly it’s because I’m lazy and marching makes my feet hurt, but we’ll skim over that. By enlarge, powerful people get decisions made by sitting down on swanky seats and being right, or, more often, slightly more convincing than the dude in the swanky seat opposite, and I think grassroots movements should do the same.

Why, then, did I make an exception for Slutwalk? Well, firstly, it’s because the march seems symbolic of the argument; we are trying to reclaim public space and our right to be in it without being subject to violence, and without our bodily autonomy becoming dependent on our dress or behaviour, so it makes sense for us to do that by asserting our presence in public space. Secondly, the argument isn’t addressed exclusively to the powerful. It is addressed to the man in the street, the passer by, the beat police officer, the inconvenienced shopper, and everyone who knows someone who went to Slutwalk, or heard about it, or saw it on TV, or read what someone said about it on Twitter, or saw a poster for it while they were taking a shit. All of those people have the power to change rape culture or perpetuate it, to understand the message that expecting potential victims* of rape to change their behaviour in order to avoid being raped is demeaning and othering, or to close their eyes to the obvious. This gives Slutwalk the potential to yield some of the many smaller successes we desperately need on the road to Win, raising people’s consciousness and changing people’s minds. It isn’t a win or lose event with the odds stacked against us. Thirdly, it is a phenomenally successful world-wide event. Each small march, taking place in a local area allows access for people who would never be able to travel, forces the issue in many localities, but at the same time connects to a single world message. I therefore encourage any reluctant Sluts to join.


*I am aware that there is some debate over the appropriate term to describe people who have experienced rape. I have used the word victim here, rather than survivor, because not all people who experience rape survive, and I do not believe this makes them weaker, or their experience any less important, or their voice (as far as we can imagine it) any less worthy of representation. I welcome comments from anyone who can think of a better word. 

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