Why I marched at SlutWalk

I marched today because I believe that a short skirt is not an invitation to make nasty comments or commit sexual assault. This should not be a controversial opinion!

Here are some of my impressions from today’s SlutWalk…

  • Weather, crowd numbers, dresscode – Despite the cold, not-quite-winter Melbourne weather, the SlutWalk attracted somewhere between 2000 and 3000 supporters, with maybe 40% of the crowd being male. Most people wore clothes that were weather-appropriate – jackets or lots of layers. A woman standing next to me noted that “anyone who came here to perv is going to be very disappointed”.
  • Speeches – I would like to say that the speeches were wonderful and inspiring, but I couldn’t hear much of them, and neither could most of the crowd on the steps of the State Library. Leslie Cannold has posted the text of her speech in case you weren’t standing in the first few rows, and the guy who does the Fitzroyalty blog has posted a YouTube video.
  • Placards – There were some great signs. My favourites were “She shouldn’t have to hang out with me just to feel safe” (held by a guy), “I might be asking for it, but not from you”, and a nice dictionary definition of slut: “a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you”.
  • The Media – considering the turnout, the event definitely punched above its weight with (overall favourable) media attention. There was also lots of great stuff on Twitter and in various blogs.
  • Slutcalling – a number of people I talked to, including one of the organisers, were slutcalled on the day of the walk. i.e. some fuckwit (both male and female fuckwits in these cases) thought that it was appropriate to tell a total stranger that they were dressed like a slut. This seems to happen even when people are dressed to go to the gym, or the Feminist Futures conference, and never happens when a boyfriend/husband/father is present. The fact that some people obviously have vastly different man-is-around manners vs. woman-is-alone manners really bothers me.
  • Fuckwits – Various types of fuckwits attended the SlutWalk…
    • Wankers from the Socialist Alliance – despite having nothing to do with the organisation or promotion of SlutWalk, the Socialist Alliance thought that they could leach off the groundswell of public support by setting up their little badge-selling table and walking through the crowd handing out flyers. They have been critical in the past of sex-positive feminists, and are best avoided.
    • Trolls from Anonymous – Some idiots from /b/ on 4chan thought that they might be able to have some LOLs by trolling the SlutWalk, but there were too few of them to make any real impact. Most notable were the guy in the pedobear suit, and two guys dressed as pimps who received a brief “ho’s up, pimps down!” chant from a hostile crowd.
    • Christian fundamentalists – two lonely looking fundies were holding signs up on the steps of the old Treasury building that had some bible quote about how women should dress modestly. A couple of women in the crowd didn’t like this, and ripped one of the signs in half. The other fundie refused to give up his sign, and ended up being chased around the treasury steps before security stepped in and escorted him away for his own safety.
  • Highlight – Because, deep down, I’m just a lame fanboy, my SlutWalk highlight was being retweeted by @clembastow.

Everything below here was hastily written just before the Melbourne SlutWalk. My previous promise to come back and re-edit has been rescinded. It is time for me to go to bed. :)

Who is responsible for rape?

A woman is raped and goes to the police seeking justice. Instead, she is charged with adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. The man responsible goes free.

Sometimes it’s easier to see the flaws in a country on the other side of the world than it is to see them in your own. Unfortunately, assuming that the victim of rape or sexual assault is somehow responsible for the crimes committed against them is common in Australia too.

NakedMelbourne Naked Melbourne
Show your support for #SlutWalk Melbourne on 28/May. March to end victim-blaming in sex-related crimes. http://www.slutwalkmelbourne.com 26 May

The horrible, ignorant comments on SlutWalk blog postings and news articles show that far too many people have really nasty attitudes towards women.

NakedMelbourne Naked Melbourne
Some #SlutWalk comments make angry. Crimes against people are different to crimes against property. I don’t want to hear your car analogy. 26 May

On Equality and Freedoms

I’ve got this utra-radical notion that everyone, regardless of gender, should enjoy the same freedoms. As a six-foot tall man, I can wear whatever I like outside my house without the fear of sexual assault ever entering my mind. I would like to live in a country where all the women I know could have the same freedom. I wish that I never had to worry when my wife walks home late at night, or when she wants to jog around the park after dark by herself, or when I put a drunk female friend in the back of a taxi.

NakedMelbourne Naked Melbourne
As a guy I can wear something skimpy and go for a run after dark, knowing that I will be safe. Everyone should have that freedom. #SlutWalk 27 May

It would be kind of hypocritical of me to condemn anyone else for enjoying sex or for having a higher than average number of sexual partners. I don’t support sexual double standards when it comes to gender, and I hate the attitude that regards a woman with more sexual history as “worth less” than a woman who has had fewer sexual partners.

Using the word “slut”

Here is my basic guide to using the word “slut”:

Acceptable:

  • I am a slut
  • We are sluts

Not Acceptable:

  • You are a slut *note special kinky bedroom exception within loving relationships
  • She is a slut
  • They are sluts

There are some words that I think people have the right to use to self-label, but not to label others with. I don’t have a problem with the name “SlutWalk”, but I would have a huge problem if someone described a Take Back the Night rally as a “slut walk”.

On Slut Shaming

Last year a co-worker’s 12-year old daughter went on a family holiday to Egypt, where her parents had been born. On her first day she made the mistake of dressing like a normal Australian 12-year old, and was spat at and called a slut and a whore by old women in the street. Clearly wrong, right?

But the hundreds of local stories about slut shaming and random acts of verbal abuse from strangers that are surfacing in the SlutWalk commentary show that Australia has plenty of people who feel that they have the right to tell others how they should dress and behave, even if they are not harming anyone.

An idea that I haven’t seen written about before, but have thought about a bit recently, is second-order slut-shaming. Have you ever heard a woman letting her friends know what a horrible person she thinks some total stranger must be for wearing something that she thinks is a bit too short? The subject of her invective might not hear her, but she has just sent a really clear message to all of her friends that none of them should ever dare to dress like that.

Men are hurt by this too

Thank you SlutWalk organisers for making it clear that everyone is welcome to march. Take Back the Night rallies specifically exclude men, rather than welcoming people who want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

I don’t want to over-emphasise the harm that a culture of slut-shaming and victim blaming does to men – being made to feel like a potential rapist is not as bad as feeling like you are in danger of being raped – but I hate the idea that men are just one revealing outfit away from becoming criminals.

Walking by myself at night down a quiet street I generally walk confidently, like I own the world and am curious about everything in it, but there is an interesting change in body language when a woman approaches. I hate the idea of making someone feel afraid or nervous, but am hyper-aware that just because I am male and we are alone on the street, this is probably happening anyway. I kind of hunch a bit, in a attempt to not appear so big, and we both walk quickly past each other, head down, eyes averted.

When I am walking with my wife, I feel like I have a big “safe male” sign, and don’t feel the need to do that. I would like to live in a world where everyone felt safe, and no-one needed to be treated like a threat.

On porn and this website

So, you’ve probably noticed by now that this website is a bit porny. I don’t believe that porn is necessarily at odds with feminism. Anti-porn feminists like Gail Dines can cherry pick examples that show hatred of women, but the most popular porn seems to depict two (or more) attractive people who appear to be enjoying themselves, so I think that the number of people who want to see violent, brutal hate-fucking is quite small.

NakedMelbourne Naked Melbourne
To Gail Dines, porn is always “2 girls, 1 cup”, and never “The Crashpad” or “Xana and Dax”. #qanda24 May

If someone is arguing against porn, see if their argument stands up when it is applied to porn for gay men, lesbians, straight women, or to homemade porn that people have released for free.

Anyway, I will eventually get around to putting up some affiliate content from local websites like Girls Out West and some others on here, but I would expect that all my website visitors would understand the rules of common courtesy. Appreciate, look but don’t touch.

5 Responses to “Why I marched at SlutWalk”

  1. You are no longer Anonymous when you give your real name, dickhead. :) says:

    I saw that the fuckwit in the pimp costume was being interviewed by a journalist from The Age, so I thought I would fill her in on Anonymous’ plans to troll the SlutWalk.

    Hearing him try to deny that he was from Anonymous, and then ask the journalist if he could change the name that he had given her really made my day.

    • John says:

      Most women are living in a delusitional fantasy land, unable to see things as they really are and I believe the media has contributed to this ever growing problem.

      Too much TV and too many magazines, filling heads with perceptions of life that are simply not real or achievable. Proof of this is clear, look at the statistics in most modern countries, women are now having children much later in life. We all know why……

      Reality on this topic is quite simple, a simple analogly might help. if a crimnal could choose between 2 cars to steal, say a Porche or a rust bucket ford, which one is he going to take? Obviously the Porche. Same applies to women who dress like “sluts”, this obviously increases the chances of being victim to a sexual crime, this can also be proven with statistics. However in saying that I beleive women should be able to choose wheather to take that risk/chance themselves.

  2. Blah says:

    I liked your point about the effect on men of felling as though you are always being judged as a potential rapist. It’s like the low-level form of racism where a white person will clutch their handbag or cross the street when they see a black person.

    I see women who call other women sluts because of the way they dress as enabling rapists. Because they help reinforce the message that women who wear revealing clothes are willing to fuck anyone.

  3. Rape Analogy says:

    Man: Hello, I’d like to report a mugging.
    Officer: A mugging, eh? Where did it take place?
    Man: I was walking by 21st and Dundritch Street and a man pulled out a gun and said, “Give me all your money.”
    Officer: And did you?
    Man: Yes, I co-operated.
    Officer: So you willingly gave the man your money without fighting back, calling for help or trying to escape?
    Man: Well, yes, but I was terrified. I thought he was going to kill me!
    Officer: Mmm. But you did co-operate with him. And I’ve been informed that you’re quite a philanthropist, too.
    Man: I give to charity, yes.
    Officer: So you like to give money away. You make a habit of giving money away.
    Man: What does that have to do with this situation?
    Officer: You knowingly walked down Dundritch Street in your suit when everyone knows you like to give away money, and then you didn’t fight back. It sounds like you gave money to someone, but now you’re having after-donation regret. Tell me, do you really want to ruin his life because of your mistake?
    Man: This is ridiculous!
    Officer: This is a rape analogy. This is what women face every single day when they try to bring their rapists to justice.
    Man: Fuck the patriarchy.
    Officer: Word.

  4. Rape Analogy says:

    Whe following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”

    Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:

    “I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
    “I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
    “I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
    “I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
    “I use my keys as a potential weapon.”

    The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life — including my mother, sister and girlfriend — and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender.

    Why I Am A Male Feminist[http://www.theroot.com/views/why-i-am-male-feminist] (via petitefeministe)

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