To Reclaim Slut or Not To Reclaim Slut: Is that the Question?

When I initially received my invitation to SlutWalk Los Angeles, I didn’t open it. I was aware of the Internet hoopla around SlutWalk, the anti-rape marches sweeping North America, Australia and Europe. I’d seen enthusiastic online posts from students, friends and much-respected peers. But I couldn’t get past the sensationalist (and attention grabbing!) word slut.

My reaction would have been different 15 years ago. As an eager, young, white, working-class woman new to feminism, I was absolutely gung-ho and full of riot grrl sass. I embraced in-your-face tactics and enthusiastically sought to reclaim slut, along with words like bitch and cunt. But as a white, working-class feminist in 2011, swiftly approaching 39, I often harshly judge my younger feminist self. She seems to me less strategic, less analytically adept–more prone to being swept up by the collective energy of a cause.

And the word slut now brings up feelings I’ve developed over time about the hypersexualization of our culture. Porn’s ever-increasing influence on our sexuality has left me cynical. The rise of raunch culture, in which too many women interpret stripper-pole classes as a vehicle to empowerment, has disappointed me. The sexualization of our children has made me angry. Collectively, this makes claiming the word slut, an effort I found revolutionary and exciting over a decade ago, now feel cliche, confusing and counterproductive.

I was not alone in my reaction. SlutWalk has drawn vocal feminist criticism, most prominently from Gail Dines and Wendy J. Murphy, who wrote in the Guardian:

The term slut is so deeply rooted in the patriarchal “madonna/whore” view of women’s sexuality that it is beyond redemption. The word is so saturated with the ideology that female sexual energy deserves punishment that trying to change its meaning is a waste of precious feminist resources.

After reading this piece, I went out and talked with many of the activists behind SlutWalk. All underscored a single point: While re-appropriating slut is one of the intentions behind SlutWalk, it is not what SlutWalk is primarily about. SlutWalk is a response to a thoughtless Canadian police officer’s ignorant and sexist comment urging women to “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized” this past January. Toronto feminists Sonya JF Barnett and Heather Jarvis were galvanized to organize a protest–the first SlutWalk–to call for an end to victim blaming. They created SlutWalk to ignite a conversation about sexual assault, highlight oppressive slut-shaming, challenge the tendency of the criminal justice system and the culture at large to blame the victim and, yes, re-appropriate slut.

As Hugo Schwyzer, a member of SlutWalk LAs steering committee, notes:

Some of us embrace the word slut. Some don’t. But we’re all marching for two vital liberties: both the freedom to be sexual and the freedom from violence, harassment and rape

Scheduled SlutWalk LA speaker Shira Tarrant, who did a three-part interview series with Gail Dines for the Ms. Blog, had this response to the Guardian article:

My message to feminists like Gail Dines who are busy attacking SlutWalks is that you miss the point. If the word “slut” bugs you then focus on the WALK part of SlutWalk and stop attacking political allies who are working to prevent sexual assault. SlutWalk is a movement that is getting international media attention and bringing thousands of people into the streets to speak out against rape and sexual assault. This is an amazing moment of anti-violence activism. This is huge. We need it!

SlutWalk Boston speaker Jaclyn Friedman, author of the treatise “My Sluthood, Myself”, also responded:

As for “precious feminist resources,” everything I’ve seen with the SlutWalk leads me to conclude we’re generating them, not using them up. The radical, loving outrage at the Boston SlutWalk was electric, and it’s already being put to use to power a new coalition in Boston called RAGE: Radical Alliance for Gender Equality. It’s motivating a whole new generation to take leadership in feminist action. It could not be more energizing.

The mobilizing success of SlutWalk is hard to deny. SlutWalk’s founders initially hoped for a turnout of 100. Instead, it resonated with thousands and exploded into over 70 satellite marches globally. According to SlutWalk co-founder Jarvis, it has spread faster and wider than the founders can keep pace with.

Media critics I spoke with had more mixed opinions about whether the term slut works as a media strategy. Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency isn’t personally bothered by the word slut, but thinks it has worked against SlutWalk’s aim of putting a halt to victim-blaming.

The sensational word slut has gotten the organizers lots of media attention. However, that attention is not typically about violence against women at all, but about how women should or shouldn’t dress, which is a completely regressive conversation that does not help anti-violence activism.

Jennifer L. Pozner, founder and executive director of Women in Media and News, thinks the corporate media coverage of SlutWalk has been unusually feminist-influenced. Pozner, who has monitored media coverage of violence against women since 1992, says SlutWalk is bringing an anti-victim-blaming message outside the feminist, anti-racist community in a rare way.

I was pleasantly surprised at how great the media coverage in Toronto and Boston was. It contextualized rape as violence, as institutional, and gave voice to feminist antiviolence experts in ways I almost never see in news media. I see [SlutWalk] as an effective media tool–well-messaged media stunts are a key element in creating a climate conducive to social change. Anything that drives home to a mainstream media audience the concept that rape is not a crime dependent upon fashion, and that women do not ‘provoke’ sexual assault with their clothing or drinking, is a positive, potentially transformative force.

That doesn’t mean SlutWalk’s brand and style of activism will appeal to everyone or be accessible to everyone. Ernesto Aguilar writes at People of Color Organize!:

How would the Mexican-American mothers I know feel about their daughters calling themselves whores? Or the Black mothers of friends react to their daughters calling themselves sluts? Probably not well. Many communities of color have had growing movements against anti-woman language for good reason. For communities of color, even those who aren’t expressly political, there’s a visceral reaction to name-calling aimed at women of color, who are seemingly always the targets of names whose historical, cultural, social and political edge white women will never confront.

Tarrant remarks,

I know when I was a teen mom I could not have risked the scrutiny of participating in a SlutWalk. As a professor with a grown child, I can.

But she goes on to say:

SlutWalk is imperfect. All political movements are imperfect. Human beings are imperfect. But while we’re fighting amongst ourselves, sexual assaults keep happening.

And therein lies the heart of the matter. Are we bad or subpar feminists if we participate? Just as my own feminist consciousness and feminist activism grew and changed, so do movements and all activists behind them. And in my arduous exploration of SlutWalk, my opinions grew and changed. I was particularly inspired by my conversations with founder Heather Jarvis, who spoke as an individual committed to fighting injustice, candidly acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of her efforts and SlutWalk at large.

I was also inspired by the response of lifelong feminist activist Zoe Nicholson (one of six women who fasted for 37 days in 1982 to support the  Equal Rights Amendment). While publicly acknowledging that she was not a fan of SlutWalk’s name and the misunderstandings that it generates, in the end she spoke out in support of the walk  and in solidarity with all victims of violence. As she states,

Every time some one agitates, demonstrates for equality, the opponents lose their stranglehold just a little bit. No act is too small.

In the end, I support and stand in solidarity with SlutWalk.

Photo of SlutWalk Ottawa from Flickr user R Wolsak under Creative Commons.

 

Comments

  1. I actually think Slut is the perfect word for us to rally behind. Slut is a word most of us have come against at one point or another. It is a word that we have each been on either side of. For me, it was when my early developing, and overweight, hips started rolling side to side when I walked. A well meaning teacher pulled me aside to inform me I walked like a slut and would need to watch that. A couple of years later a girl in our class was raped by one of the guys in my class. It was quickly made clear to us that we couldn’t be sure. She was drinking and she was a slut. Slut is more than a word, it is the line in the sand that was drawn for us long ago to create sides in a battle none of us can win. By reclaiming slut we are reclaiming our sisterhood. We are saying, “You know what, that girl make take stripparobic classes, she may do body shots and flash her thong on the bar on weekends. She may well be a slut. But so are we all and we all won’t let you get away with hurting her any more.”

    • “She may well be a slut. But so are we all and we all won’t let you get away with hurting her anymore.” I love that.

      • I think, when focusing on the oversexualization in pop culture, we have missed a more dangerous trend in pop culture–the catty women trend that has taken over. Women, by and large, do not have female friends on TV anymore, and when they do its that old sterotype of women who all secretly hate each other. The closest I have seen recently is the after hours comraderie of Garcia, Prentiss and JJ on Criminal Minds and they broke that trio up fast enough, and never gave it nearly as much time as Garcia’s flirty-but-they-can-never-sleep-together-because-she-is-fat-and-he-is-hot friendship with Morgan (which reinforces that friendships with women aren’t as important as those with men). With a growing trend towards youth based reality television, its sad that pop culture seems determined to teach girls to back away from the sisterhood instead of drawing into it. I know I would turn in to watch an eipsode of Jersey Shore that advertised itself–Jersey Shore: The girls of the house call the guys out on their sexual hyprocracy and, while they are at it, inform Ronnie that his behavior towards Sammi is abusive and he has to leave the house.

  2. Creatrix Tiara says:

    How come articles like these never seem to interview and quote SlutWalkers of colour? Many of us are organizing or actively involved in our local slutwalks for various reasons. white feminists use woc erasure as an excuse to put down slutwalk yet completely ignore woc themselves. Hell your one poc quote is from a man!

    Stop claiming to speak for us when we never asked you to. Ask us yourselves.

    tiara
    Slutwalk brisbane

    • I’m compiling posts from other SWOC about their participation: http://blog.themerchgirl.net/post/5725734997/slut

    • I think you are right to hold the feminist community accountable for the historical exclusion of women of color. However, I think you miss the point here. Women of color are victims of gender violence at a rate far greater than their white female counterparts and this is a movement to bring awareness to sexual violence against women. Perhaps this article would have spoken to you more if a women of color was quoted, I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like the author was tyring to speak for anyone other than herself and what it means to her. It sounds to me like if anything, you have an ally in the cause. The feminist movement needs unity now more than ever and if you think that unity will come from holding white women accountable than I think you should do it but not in such a divisive, attacking manner.

  3. NWOslave says:

    That police officer should have been commended for his good advice not condemned.

    Take a clear plastic bag and stuff 10k in it than go down to the poorest part of town and start swinging it around chanting I got it, you want it, can’t have it. Would that person deserve to have their money taken?

    Take a steaming delicious sub and parade it about before impoverished starving people chanting the same message, let them see it and smell its perfumed goodness. Do they deserve to have it taken from them?

    Take a steak and wave it in front of hungry dogs and then pull it away, sooner or later you’ll get bit, and you would deserve it. If you wouldn’t do that to a dog why do it to a man.

    You’ll probably say, but its not the same. It is the same. teasing is wrong. Not to mention the emotional damage and sexual dysfunction caused to young boys entering puberty, as they’re told to “control” themselves while women/girls are “encouraged” to flaunt their sexuality.

    If I recall my history one the suffragettes main slogans went something like, women will legislate “morality” with our votes. Strangely, men aren’t all that impressed with the “modern” womans morality. All we see is a bunch of spoiled children who have legislated a no accountability clause for women into every social, economic and political sphere of life.

    • What a woman chooses to do with her body is not an invitation for anyone to violate her.And rape is not about sexual attraction,its about power and dominance and violence.

      There is no “emotional damage” or “sexual dysfunction” caused by teaching a young man that a woman’s body is off limits and not his to do with as he wishes.It’s not teasing for a woman to wear what she wants and to imply that anytime a woman gets dressed its an invitation to a man is ludicrous at best and disturbing at worst.

      Woman are not out to impress men with our morality,and the fact that you use a slogan from almost 100 years ago paired with your arcane idea that men should be able to go after woman or risk damaging them selves leads me to think that you would benefit from reading a few more article on this site.

      I really hope you read more articles here and learn something.Because I think a broadened knowledge of the state of women would change your opinion.

    • Christina says:

      It sounds like you’re talking about accountability for women, but not for men. In sexual assault scenarios, men are forcing themselves on women; women aren’t forcing men to rape or sexually assault them. Even if a person gets something stolen or they’re raped, the blame still lies on the person who did the stealing or raping — not the victim. When men blame women for getting raped, it’s just insulting to your own sex. “Oh no I couldn’t help it! She was just dressed to scantily My urges were too much for me!” Come on; men aren’t animals. Stop acting like they are.

      Also give me examples of how women are managing to somehow squirm out of their accountability in any given situation. I’m interested.

    • Walking around in a short skirt is hardly chanting “I got it, you want it, can’t have it”. Also, you are equating men to starving dogs. Men are hardly starved, untamed beasts who have to fight for the last scrap of food or money to live when it comes to sex. This has got to be one of the most ridiculous analogies I’ve ever heard and if I were a man, I’d be offended by how you picture the male species. I really can’t tell if you are trolling or just this ignorant so I’m not going to craft a longer comment than this.

    • Rape has nothing to do with teasing or sexuality. It has everything to do with domination and dehumanization. I don’t get dressed in the morning and think, “Oh, gee, how many men can I tease in THIS outfit today?” And, I can guarantee you 99% of women are the same.

      I don’t think that it’s fair that I hate to wear skirts and high heels because I feel like I’m willingly putting myself in a vulnerable position because, in those clothes, I would be less capable of defending myself. Why should I have to feel that way? When the truth is that women get raped in sweaty gym clothes with their hair in ponytails. Period. It doesn’t really matter what we wear because we’re always targets. Day or night. Skirts or pants. Long hair or short. “Slutty” or not. Your accussations and finger pointing are malicious and unwelcome.

      And, your history isn’t serving you very well, NWOslave. There were a lot of women in the suffragist movement who wanted nothing more than equality of representation. It was, in fact, men who thought & preached that the pure, virtous, pious Woman should be left out of politics (and the economy and the church and the work force and the military, etc) as it could potentially corrupt our morality. I’m sure there were some women who felt that way, but that is a dated and outmoded paradigm that most feminists today do not embrace.

      • NWOslave says:

        Tell LSP, wouldn’t teasing a man/boy than telling them to “keep it his pants” or “holster that thing” be considered dehumanizing/controlling? I mean to sexually excite than demean a man/boy seems pretty vile, doesn’t it? And you’re right 99% of women don’t do that. However if 1% of women do act like that and they act like this maybe 10x a year, than that affects a lot of men/boys. Aren’t these men/boys “victims” yet this behavior is acceptable because it’s only teasing. I guess they just need to “man up.”

        My history is quite good. I know you’ve been told no women could vote until 1920, this is false. Up until 1868, nationwide, only land owners could vote. And yes women were land owners, business owners, ect. In fact most states had their own laws on voting and women could vote in those state before 1920. Basically the masses voting was new worldwide and men in the US as a whole could vote a whopping 52 years before women, quite a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things. Plus the fact that since women were landowners, before 1868 there were women (landownwers) who could vote where men (non-landowners) couldn’t. Also, I hadn’t realized morality is an outdated paradigm.

    • What nonsense. You make a completely false equivalency. Men are hardly “starving” or “impoverished.” Men have cortexes. We expect them to use them.

    • Melissa Bada says:

      There are so many things wrong with your statement it is hard to know where to begin. So I’ll continue in the order as you wrote your apparent ignorance. Your first question asks if “that person deserves to have their money taken?” Of course not, we live in a society of laws and we have laws for a reason. That particular infraction of the law is called theft. If you have a nice home and leave the door unlocked, does that entitle someone to enter your home and make it their own because you left the door unlocked?

      Your next statement about steak and “impoverished starving people” I don’t understand the correlation? Are we to assume that men are all “sex starved” and if they see a sexy woman pass by they are unable to control themselves and the woman deserves to be raped since the man is starved for sex? Do I need to point out the ridiculousness of this statement? If your starved are you allowed to steal someone’s food because your starving?

      I prefer not to comment on the “dog” comparison, I like to think that humans and dogs are different. It is interesting that you seem to think people are on the same level as a dog.

      As for your comment on teasing, I guess the best way to prove your absurdity in the way you use the term is to define it:

      tease

       Show Spelled [teez] verb, teased, teas•ing, noun

      –verb (used with object)

      1.

      to irritate or provoke with persistent petty distractions, trifling raillery, or other annoyance, often in sport.

      The way you are referring to the term “tease” is a man-made term used to belittle women, because we are supposed to give in to men on request or demand, which is again incorrect.

      Girls are not encouraged by their parents to “flaunt their sexuality,” I think you are confused with the media. The media that is driven by men in our society that hold women to unrealistic standards of beauty and demand our sexuality define us. Being a good wife, mother or career woman is not enough unless your “hot” or sexually attractive. So please don’t assume any parent of a little girl encourages their daughters to be sexual, if anything we are taught to repress our sexuality, you know or your a “slut.” Women have been fighting for years against being objectified but at the same time we also had to fight for the right to openly admit to enjoy sex. It truly is a “man’s world” and we have had to fight for every inch if equality and we are obviously still so far away, considering your post.

      Your last statement on “morality,” interesting enough most women are raising children as a single parent. Men are just as responsible for raising “moral” children but yet they can easily escape their responsibility and only be held to a financial obligation by our current laws. I think more appropriate laws for men who father children would be to stay involved in their life. I find it revolting that men who walk out on their families think that they can put a price on raising a child. There is no price on raising a child. Being an absentee parent cannot be supplemented by a monthly fee. Sure, money helps but it doesn’t replace the fact that children need two parents to guide them and raise members of society who will have morals. So I hope that explains your rant on “a bunch of spoiled children who have legislated a no accountability clause for women into every social, economic and political sphere of life.” Children learn by what they see not by what they are told, so when a father leaves the family they are taught a hard lesson about accountability. Children can be easily spoiled by “paycheck dads.”

      Finally, I do agree on something you mentioned “men aren’t all that impressed with the “modern” womans morality.” This is good news, so maybe they can find better “control of themselves” when a woman walks by dressed like a “slut” and think about morals instead of trying to get in her pants.

    • And this is exactly why we’ll walk. Thanks for posting NWO slave but I hope you’ll read on and open your mind.

  4. I went to slutwalk vancouver and I was inspired by the sheer number of people who came out to demand change. I walked in solidarity with my best friend, who is a survivor. No movement is perfect, but the fact that this resonated with so many women (and men!) around the world speaks to its effectiveness and its nessecity!

  5. Nita Rubio says:

    I certainly appreciate this great article. I can see both points of view. In this day and age it does seem necessary to utilize sensationalism and strategic marketing to get these points heard. We are saturated and bombarded. Not to mention that we are so ADD that we need the “cliff notes” to grab our attention and (hopefully) read the full story. I also stand in solidarity with the message these women are getting out there. However, in my personal life and the arena in which I teach, I erased the words slut and whore from my lexicon. Years ago I vowed to never use these words that did not have the appropriate counterpart to apply to men. Yes, there is some liberation to reclaim the words-to exclaim that they have no power over us. But looking at a more nuanced point of view-it is liberation within the same identity. Liberation that is still referenced from the cultural paradigm that there is a word that stereotypes womens sexuality and there is not a word that stereotypes mens sexuality. I am ready to be liberated completely from the reference.

    Good work Melanie!

  6. megan s. says:

    Just so people know, my earlier comment was deleted which is pretty lame, as I have been a steady reader of Ms. since I was 16 and I am now 37.

    I was creeped out by the above article and feel, as does stormy, that Slut is the perfect word to rally behind.

    Again, *shame* on your moderators for deleting my earlier posts.

    Here is a great article with short movie included about this slutwalk which left me happy, not upset that yet another judgey upper middle class “feminist” is wrecking it for the rest of us. http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/

    • Melanie says:

      Megan- have you read my entire post? Your comment indicates you have not actually gotten the point of my post. I am NOT saying SlutWalk is “bad,” I am NOT saying SlutWalk shouldn’t use “slut,” I am NOT it shouldn’t be a rallying point. Where are you missing my point? What are you not reading? I am NOT judging SlutWalk, nor am I an upper middle class feminist spoiling your fun. This was framed as an honest and transparent piece about my INITIAL reservation. I realize that this could connect with others who had conflicted emotions to show them that, in the end, THIS IS A CAUSE TO RALLY AROUND, SLUT OR NO SLUT. It’s the issue. Did you see my last statement? “In the end, I support and stand in solidarity with SlutWalk.” So, what in the world “creeps” you out about my commitment to raising awareness about bringing attention to sexual assault and SlutWalk? My point was that we all have the ability to change our minds and our activism and feminist consciousness grows and changes, movements are organic and also grow and change. Many feminists have grappled with SlutWalk. I am sharing my personal journey through my own conflicted emotions and the final resolution of that inner journey. That resolution was an outcome of my discussions with other feminists, reading, researching and interviewing. I do hope you understand we’re on the same page ad you have had a profound misreading of my post. I don’t know how I can make my position any more clear to you. I do help this comment helps.

    • I saw your earlier comment and it was probably deleted because you were attacking the author. Like you did again here. I’m not really clear on why you’re upset given the fact that the last line of this post (I’m not sure you made it that far) is: “In the end, I support and stand in solidarity with SlutWalk.” All that the author is doing is laying out some of the arguments for and against Slutwalk; she herself clearly supports it.

      • Melanie says:

        Precisely. Thanks for commenting. My aim was to write a post that was nuanced and not polarizing, a post that exemplified the inner conflicts so many of us have (and should have about anything which displays critical thinking).

  7. I understand (and agree) with your article on the reservation regarding “slut.” The fact that there is still a very impossible cultural dictate of damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t in regards to women’s sexuality- my beef with hypersexualization has been that what the mainstream media has picked up and ran with- has never been about women taking control of their sexuality, but rather- women being more sexually accessible without the respect of women and their autonomy (hence the disparaging undercurrent of Girls Gone Wild, the explosion of “extreme hardcore” videos a la Max Hardcore). This is not to negate the hard work that certain feminists have done in regards to sexuality that emphasizes self-autonomy and demand for respect in regards to women’s sexuality- but sadly, they don’t get the amount of press that they deserve.

    What I did find encouraging about Slutwalk- and my reason for participating- was the act that it did mobilize so many women that never would have gotten active. Some were mobilized because they were sick of having that word used against them for so long, some were mobilized because they were infuriated at the Toronto policeman’s remarks. What I’ve found incredibly important is the fact that so many women came out- not in support of slut- but against victim-blaming. They came out in support of the concept that NO woman is asking for / deserves rape. For me, sexual autonomy is about having the right to refuse without facing violence or coersion, and for me, Slutwalk is not just about being able to say YES- but that every woman has the right to say NO and their answer deserves respect and compliance.

  8. To those who keep using the “carrying around tons of money” metaphor (like NWOslave):

    You can choose to carry around your money. You can’t choose to carry around your sexuality or your body.

    [my boyfriend came up with that while discussing this and I thought it was the best rebuttal ever]

  9. Ryan Edalatpajouh says:

    This was a Great Article. Being a male who uses the word slut often i cant speak for all the women out there, but i can try. This Article has made me think about what the word really means. Many males around the world, use the world SLUT to refer to a “Hoe”, “Trick”, “my 2 am booty call”. However, this article has swayed my beliefs. One part of this Article that triggered me, was ignorant Canadian Cop who made a sexist comment urging women to “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”. This proves that women are still living in the Patriarchal society that they have tried so hard to abolish. If you want someone to blame, the police should blame the government they protect because they are the ones allowing stores to sell sex to children at BIRTH!!!!. Individuals should not believe that because someones Skirt is too short, that they should be classified as a slut.

    Great Article Mrs. Klein.

  10. ElizabethP says:

    As a mother of twin daughters I too had mixed feelings about SlutWalk. I am very much in support of the ideals behind the movement but, as Ms. Zoe Nicholson mentioned, feel that the name itself generates misunderstanding. As I analyzed the movement, how it was ignited and the name itself, it seemed appropriate. In a patriarchal society like ours we are labeled as sluts if we decide to be sexual, and as the previous comment by NWOslave above, it only proves how women are perceived by men who have no self control. Being a victim of rape myself by a man who thought no meant Yes, I am in full support of SlutWalk. It is time to stop blaming victims for the lack of self control of others. As Mr. Hugo Shwyzer tweeted on May 19, 2011, ” Reason #3 I support SlutWalk LA: Because no matter how short the skirt, how high the heel, or low-cut the top, every woman deserves dignity and safety.” Women are not 10K or a piece of meat up for grabs, we are human beings. I don’t want my daughters to grow up in a society where they are seen as an object and then condemned for the amount of skin they will later on choose to show.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.

  11. Could someone please delete NWOslave’s insanely misogynistic comment?

  12. Goldmarx says:

    1) If you don’t believe there is a word that stereotypes men’s sexuality, well don’t just sit there. Have a contest to make one up!

    It’s worked for Dan Savage and his redefining “santorum”, so, yes, it does get better.

    2) It’s fun seeing Gail Dines freak out over this. She realizes that the Slutwalk movement is pushing her anti-porn movement that much closer to its well-deserved and long overdue extinction.

  13. sangetencre says:

    “If you wouldn’t do that to a dog why do it to a man. ”

    Because men are not dogs, men are men.

    And if you’re going to go this route and say that “teasing is cruel/wrong/bad/etc” then any woman who makes out with a man and decides that as far as she wants to go, and says so, is a cruel tease who deserves to be raped.

    And that POV, frankly, makes you an ass.

    And a man hater.

    Men are perfectly capable of looking at a woman and admiring her. Or looking at a woman and desiring her. Or looking at a woman and wanting to fuck her.

    And NOT acting in a reprehensible fashion.

    And, point of fact, women’s clothing choices? They make little to no difference as far as who is raped.

  14. I have to agree when it comes to the question of if the word ‘slut’ is really worth “reclaiming”. At the end of the day, words are words and it’s the intent behind them. It doesn’t matter whether we reclaim the word ‘slut’, ‘bitch’ or any others as long as the person wielding them uses them with malice. You can’t stand there and say, “Haha! You called me a bitch but I find that word empowering so you can’t hurt me!” when you know the person calling you that is viewing you with disgust and judgment. That’s where the hurt comes in both personally and to society, that person could have used any word because it’s the thoughts behind them that matter. Reclaiming words does nothing until we enlighten the ignorant and change the views of the people who think those thoughts. Once we do that, those words will be eradicated and we’ll have no more need to reclaim them.

    • I agree to an extent. However, when someone calls you a slut and you can look them in the eye and, without shame, shrug and say “Okay, and…?” It does take back their power by not leaving them anywhere to go on that verbal line.

  15. I fully support SlutWalk. While the meaning behind it is different than I originally thought, I really want to speak to what the word ‘slut’ means for me. There are so many reasons why I think something like a “SlutWalk” is important. For one, we can’t make words go away but we can reconstruct the meaning and this should be done with all language that is meant to shame people. However, changing the language is meaningless if the belief system is still in place. Having an actual movement behind reclaiming a word works to dismantle the attitude that perpetuates it. Our society has turned sex into something really horrible and uses sex as a tool to keep women oppressed. Sex is different for everyone. I have had a lot of sexual partners and I find it empowering to be in control of who and when I have sex with someone. Other women find it empowering be celibate. It shouldn’t matter. I mean let’s face it, (I know this isn’t true for everyone) sex feels really good and it’s a lot of fun and while it is also very complicated it should be celebrated when it’s mutually enjoyed. I have been called a slut more times than I can count, so for me, taking it back and saying the reasons you make sex a bad thing are the reasons I think it’s a good thing, is really powerful.

    I think whether you wish to reclaim a word or not use it all is a personal choice, whatever an individual finds agency with is what’s most important. But working to eradicate concepts that shame people and can be later used to justify rape, is something that shouldn’t be argued. There isn’t one way to do this, if Gail Dines and Wendy Murphy think we should go about creating a safer society for women in a different manner, than they should, and I would support that too. The more movements there are for such a cause, the merrier.

  16. When I first got the invite to Slutwalk; I immediately thought-oh hey cool-its a sardonic protest that is making a mockery of those that use that word to blame victims. I loved the irony of it displayed; a “slutwalk” full of women that reject that word in a traditional sense, but were embracing the ridiculousness of using the the word “slut” to blame women victims of violence. To me it didn’t seem to be bringing back the word “slut”, but a method of protest full of whit, hilarity and irony-that not only got media attention, but brought out the illogical and insane thought that “slut”attire could atone violence.

    But after reading Melanies article, there are many new thoughts to be considered. Am I perhaps the way the ‘younger feminist Melanie’ thought as well? Am I younger and naive in my feminist protest approach? As well…does the fact that I am a white female feminist blind be from the seriousness that “slut” is delivered at women of color?

    Much to consider and contemplate.. But it cannot be denied that the “Slutwalk” has given an opportunity for a larger discussion on violence against women as well as the strategic methods we as a larger feminist community should or should not take part in. And that is always a good thing to me.

  17. Melani D.G says:

    I’ve heard about Slutwalk in several tumblr blogs. I’ve read how it started in Canada, and how my friend got invited to one in Boston. When i read the label, the first thing that popped up in my instincts is that we are challenging the notion of “slut” and how it has such a negative meaning and it stems from this patriarchal society of always feeling victimized. Always feeling weak because everywhere we walk we are always aware of being street harassed. Us women don’t wear what we truly want to wear because there are many “men” out their who looks at us as objects. As i gave it more than a deeper thought, it is for reasons like these we all have to be radical activist being strong on what we fight for, and that’s for the awareness that us women has the right to have the freedom of choosing how to dress sexually or not, and that we should have the liberty to be respected. I want to challenge every guy who hit’s on me differently just because my clothes can be revealing, because im not inviting them, i’m just being me. Sometimes it is difficult for girls to stand up strong within what they feel. Hopefully this Slutwalk will wake everyone up, and help deconstruct the word Slut, because it can have a positive connotation

  18. Julia L. says:

    It is absolutely absurd that women are being blamed for being raped because of the way they’re dressed. Many women who choose to dress more conservatively are also raped on a daily basis. The onslaught of patriarchy in this country is allowing many to believe that women are to blame for actions that have absolutely everything to do with men. -Julia L.

  19. groundhogdayfeminism says:

    There is a distressing nihlism to the slutwalk phenonenon that has nothing to do with re-reclaiming the word slut and everything to do with a protest that seems to see no possibility for change. The officer in question later apologised and admitted what he said was not only wrong but contravened the Metro Toronto Police policy. But according to news reports the protest went on anyway and thus seems less like an effort to press for change and more like politically flavoured entertainment. And now women around the world are participating in ‘protests’ with no particular local issue that they are protesting against. For me It’s not that we’re *still* having blame-the-victim conversations but that we no longer think that such issues can ever go away.

  20. sophia.r.s. says:

    I believe this article to be very interesting. The word “slut” comes to people’s mouths very easily these days, especially teenagers who use it as a huge part of their vocabulary. I think people should be more careful in using such words because these words are not even being used accurately.Just because a girl is dressed in a short skirt/dress/shorts/etc. does not mean she is a slut in any way. Women have the right to dress however they want and feel comfortable which does not in any way mean they are asking to be raped! Rape is a matter of dominance not “slut-iness.” The officer could not have been more wrong with his harsh words and judgement as the victim did not ask to be raped. She is the “victim.”

  21. MelodyT says:

    I do not agree with reclaiming the word “slut”. I also believe that the word has multiple of problems especially when the media and people who are uneducated about the meaning behind SlutWalk will most definitely take a wrong interpretation of the entire purpose of the gathering of feminist activists. There is so much history behind the word that it would be very difficult to have just everyone stop using the word slut in an intended way that is hurtful to many girls and women; as a result they become shameful of themselves. Throughout history if a woman is called a slut she is looked down upon. She neither will be accepted by other woman nor accepted by any “good” man’s family due to her reputation. This still exists today in many other countries and cultures that if a woman is known to be a “slut” then she is reprimanded for it, looked down upon, not acknowledged, and unequally treated; but in an even more serious case she can be killed for being one. As girls are growing up throughout middle school and high school her peers, especially a boys, go around school calling her a slut. After, all her peers will be tormenting her because of her reputation. The word will have caused detrimental issues because the label is just going to be stuck with her all throughout her childhood. All she feels is shame and guilt about her sexuality. When a boy does something “sluttish” he is praised for it by his peers and no one ever looks down upon him or calls him a slut, he just gets away with it. Although, I understand that minorities have turned words that have been used to oppress them and made it into a word used amongst themselves by embracing it (which started off as an insult). However, reclaiming a label just makes the situation worse, I’ve never seen a movement or a march called “NiggerWalk” I think many people, not just African- Americans, would be appalled and angered by the title. Woman should also be upset with the fact that they are using “slut” to reclaim insults used against them which reminds females that they are inferior to men (patriarchy). The worst of all women use the word against other women therefore disempowering each other!

  22. Victoria says:

    Not to detract from the actual issue at hand but I would like to invite Ms. Klein to join me in taking a pole-fitness class, should she ever visit Washington, DC.

    In her third paragraph, Ms. Klein commented that “The rise of raunch culture, in which too many women interpret stripper-pole classes as a vehicle to empowerment, has disappointed me.”

    I share the same demographic with Ms. Klein (I’m 37, white, working middle class) and I’ve taken pole classes at various studios in both the DC and NYC area for more than three years and there is nothing that is even remotely raunchy about them — we wear typical workout clothes, get in a great workout, and have fun in the process.

    Pole fitness has nothing to do with “raunch culture” – it’s a legitimate form of fitness that has motivated women of all ages, races and sizes to improve their health. How can that be anything BUT empowering? And even if you don’t find it empowering, why blindly criticize those who do?

    • What? We live in a hypersexualized society, where being sexy is ok but being sexual is met with shaming and name-calling. We have ads and television shows inadvertently telling us our innate value is based upon the size of our breasts or the swing of our hips. That said, I just don’t see how a pole-dancing class is going to lead anyone toward being empowered. Awesome, you get a great workout. Oh, and you can do all sorts of “sexy” moves. So? Frankly, this strikes me as an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude and does nothing to further equality.

      Ariel Levy (author of Female Chauvinist Pigs) says, “‘Raunchy’ and ‘liberated’ are not synonyms. It is worth asking ourselves if this bawdy world of boobs and gams we have resurrected reflects how far we’ve come, or how far we have left to go.” I couldn’t agree more.

      • I’ve done burlesque classes taught by someone who also does pole. When you’ve spent most of your life not having any agency over your body – let alone your sexuality – having the power and choice to do pole-dance or burlesque, get super fit out of it, and express your body & your sexuality on your own terms is highly empowering.

        Nothing’s empowering *in itself* but don’t go denying the experiences of those who have found things like pole-dancing empowering for their reasons.

  23. Fernanda says:

    How can Ms. Magazine post this even without mentioning the critical race analysis from Aura Blogando about Slutwalk and white supremacy?? This was the first one to start off the conversation about exclusion but white women just keep ignoring us or making excuses. http://tothecurb.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/slutwal

    • Melanie says:

      Fernanda, This post has gone through endless revisions, shifts in focus/direction, and numerous drafts. The piece by Blogando was originally linked. In the end,the quote used above as it fit with the flow, tone and intention of the piece. There are no excuses about why I didn’t link that piece. I chose not to. This post is not about race exclusively. It’s focus is on the complexity of using the term slut, the nuanced arguments for and against using the term, about my conflicted feelings about supporting SlutWalk, and my efforts to research and understand SW through numerous interviews and informal conversations with women across race and class etc. It was written this way, with this focus, to allow others who had similar responses to relate and journey with me as I came to a resolution. I have been supporting posts made by WOC all along the way, posting, tweeting, and sharing- including the link to the piece you just shared. Thanks for commenting.

  24. David Howell says:

    I am just glad to see Melanie make a nuanced contribution – there has been too much bitter divisiveness in feminist circles over this, and few have seen it for what it is, namely a flawed but effective means of bringing this issue non-trivially into the public consciousness (and, as noted, even the patriarchal media hasn’t slung too much mud at it).

    Particularly notable is the idea that Slutwalk is *creating* new energy within feminist circles, not something I had thought of. In that sense, perhaps the benefit comes not from Slutwalk itself, but from what happens next. This is both a threat and an opportunity for those of us (men and women alike) fighting patriarchy, but mostly an opportunity.

  25. It's Me! RUDY!!! says:

    I think this is absolutely essential for modern western society, but even more important for the rest of the world. I mean some women in majorly underdeveloped countries have no right’s as it is, let alone right’s over their own bodies. I mean it’s the twenty first century and so many people still abide by axioms and laws formed by so-called messiahs over two millenniums ago. And what has that brought us? Not to devalue all that has been done in the struggle for universal freedoms for both sexes/genders and people of color but, there seriously needs to be a mass-intervention in the department of cultural values (World WIDE!). In a world ran by too many oblivious ideological-rampant men, there needs to be a serious self-examination of values, ethics, and human rights. I don’t understand how media plays such a pivotal role in all of this, and yet does not rightfully report on the facts. The word “Slut” along with many other words that are labeled as deviant to our mainstream-culture definitely need to be reclaimed, all of the animosity that it brings forth is so superfluous. I don’t comprehend how a label that is so-called, “bad” can be so wanted by the very men in our culture that reinforce the need and taboo for “Sluts.” It’s a work taken by men to pit women against one another in order for there to be a superior person/gender. It’s about time that women take the negative power it perpetuates and rather than use against one another, us it as a unifying force against stupid, ignorant men. (I’m not saying that all men are ignorant) Just the stupid ones that deem it deviant. Because at the end of the day those men want to do exactly what so-called “Sluts” do…

  26. NWOslave says:

    Do you know what men see when we look at women slutwalking? We see women telling men to keep it in their pants, all the while parading with pride for not being able to keep it in their pants.

    • Here is what women are actually saying: We will tell you when we want to take our stuff out of our pants with you. If we don’t tell you that, we don’t want to take our stuff out of our pants with you. Not now, not ever. And you don’t get to take your stuff out of your pants with us. Not now, not ever. You will have to go find someone else, or spend some quality time with yourself. But you don’t get to do it with us. If we have our stuff already out, if we took our stuff out for 6 other guys that you know, if we are drunk and passed out and you think we won’t notice that our stuff got taken out, you STILL don’t get to take your stuff out with us. And if you do, I got an entire group of women right here who will have my back. Did that clear up what we are saying? Also, what do men like you think when they see men Slutwalking?

  27. As a huge fan of Ms. for many years, I just wanted to say thank you for linking to my piece on this issue. A tremendous honor. Mil gracias!

  28. What’s in a name? People are getting so up in arms about a *word*. Words carry as much connotations as we let them. Sticks and stones may break my bones, that’s what we’re taught as children right?

    There is no male equivalent to the word ‘slut’. It’s a patriarchal word intended to shame women or utilise for victim blaming.

    How dare we be told that not succumbing to the words connotations and not stepping into line makes us a ‘sub par feminist’?

    If this word holds on to the power it currently has, it can be used against us forever. We’re not trying to live up to the stereotype and make it ‘typical’, we’re trying to destroy the stereotype all together. The amount of women trying to bring this cause down truly saddens me.

    Also – Women’s use of the word with such malice and spite toward other women is disgusting, and it needs to stop. I don’t think any word could be more appropriate for the event.

  29. Catherine says:

    I too have an issue with reclaiming the word slut. It makes me feel dissuaded when i realise that for a feminist cause to be popular it has to be sexy and disassociate women with the stereotypical ideas of the ‘ugly’ feminist (a patriarchal construction). The idea that to play into oppressive language will somehow make us more empowered feels to me a bit strange.

    The arguments for reclaiming the word are all about individual empowerment (which is important yes) – but the emphasis is removed from collective struggle. Not to mention to reclaim ‘slut’ one must be in a privileged position. Even with this the case, I will be attending the slutwalk in my city, not to reclaim the word, but to show my support for the anti victim blaming message. Some friends who have similar sentiments have set up a contingent at the march who don’t support the ‘re-appropriation’ of the word, but who will still be attending to show support for the message. While I don’t agree with the strategy – the fact that we are seeing a popular global feminist cause is fantastic, so I will be there, criticisms aside.

  30. I was raped and I don’t support SlutWalk.

    They’re not subverting the word ‘slut’ they’re reinforcing the sexual objectification of women – the slut or ‘temptress’ is a powerful cultural archetype, and always will be, which lawyers in particular use as a well-worn legal tactic that’s about money not human rights. Should they use it? Of course not! But an ideology doesn’t stop having negative social connotations or ramifications overnight just because people say it should.

    Misogyny is rampant in our culture and the pornification of women dominates popular media. It’s so deeply disappointing that young women have bought into their own objectification to the point whereby they’re willing to reinforce it and promote it because it’s been marketed as cool. I believe they’re naive to allow themselves to be photographed as ‘promiscuous’, too – it may not seem so empowering when their images are taken out of context later.

    Raising money for rape services or walking against rape would have been much more useful than fighting for their right to be a sex object. I’m pleased the sensationalism has stirred wider debate about victim blaming and I believe feminists can learn from their clever marketing techniques to communicate more valuable messages.

    But those who walk are not walking, or speaking, for me.

  31. I think the 60′s feminists (or women’s liberationists can’t come to terms with the word ‘slut’ as it was a horrible thing then to be called when.I was in the bra burning brigade and was a bit taken aback at the word slut being used,but when I read all the blog and news I understood completely. Young women today are different and the world is different but 1 thing unites us since Adam and Eve ,if we are raped we are not sluts we are victims of a violent crime!

    There is no male equivalent word of slut,male sluts are fine ,even admired,nudge nudge wink wink!

    At 62 I’m really glad to embrace the 3rd wave of feminism along with the young women embracing it,see you there in Melbourne on Saturday.

  32. hibiscus says:

    I <3 Jackie. Agree with "Sex is different for everyone. I have had a lot of sexual partners and I find it empowering to be in control of who and when I have sex with someone. Other women find it empowering be celibate. It shouldn’t matter." Too often one comes across the "for me or against me" wall. It's difficult to practise "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend (to the death, if necessary, perhaps yes) your right to say it", but that really is the essence of tolerance and equality.

    When the labels stop, the freedom begins.

  33. Natasha K says:

    I have a 19 year old sister whose senior year of high school was a complete hell because of the term “slut”. It is a term used primarily in high school by girls when referring to their peers and it is inexcusable. While I think that claiming control over our own sexuality is important, defusing the term amongst ourselves as women is the first step.

    I am for the walk and am glad that the term has sparked such a reaction! Men should have their foolish excuses thrown in their face for their abuses towards women and society should see that a woman’s promiscuity, clothing options, or sexual attitudes are not an open door for rape. I just wish as much attention was directed at the pain caused by the other side of the gender pendulum.

  34. Krystal J. says:

    I am also turned off by the title of the march. I would not refer to myself, or like anyone else to refer to me as a “slut”. I was bothered when a lot of my female peers, siblings and other relatives went around calling each other “bitch”, and every time they affectionately called me “bitch” I did not take it lightly. Words that are used to oppress an entire category of people are not welcomed well by everyone; although some people do use them as a way to reclaim them from their oppressors. I also think that some victims may be offended by the term “slut” as well.

    I do agree with the intent of the march. Often victims don’t report crimes because someone somewhere has put it into their head that the victim deserved it, and the victim is victimized again feeling ashamed. It is sad because the perpetrator goes unpunished, so they keep doing it.

    I am hoping that the name was a way to spark interest in the cause. When I first heard of this during the Q & A after the movie “March On”, I was not interested in it at first, but then the person speaking explained what it was and I wanted to support the cause, but I had no intent of being involeve in the march. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some people may view this title as a turn off; I did. Some people may view this as bold, inspirational, daring, and so on, but I think they could have found a better name to get more people interested.

  35. Christopher M says:

    I have reservations about “re-claiming” the word slut but I understand the need to focus on the word. Just because this one officer has apologized doesn’t mean that many others do not share his view. After reading the article I decided to support SlutWalk because I believe in the cause even if I’m not thrilled with the name.

  36. Guadalupe says:

    I dislike the word slut. It generates a stir of meanings. I find it offensive and insulting.It’s a word used to purposely degrade a woman. The intent of the march is agreeable. The officer and many like him will continue to say things like that because of the way woman are played out. It’s a catchy phrase to catch the attention of the media and make it be heard. Woman need to be respected and taken serious. It is not okay for a man to violently take a woman by force no matter what her attire is.

  37. Genesis Y. says:

    As a young adult, in this society being referred to as a slut, has being negative meanings and I wouldn’t uphold it at all. However, I don’t think by them calling the walk ‘SlutWalk Los Angeles’ they are holding power within a name, but trying to let it be known that those women that are victims of rape aren’t ‘sluts’. Some people have this concept in their heads that women, who were raped,’asked for it’ maybe by their personalities or way they were dressed. I don’t believe in this, sex should be consentual and at the point where it isn’t – there’s a problem. However, they could of thought of a better name.

  38. Stephanie C says:

    I think that the term Slut is not the proper word to use but everyone should get passed the meaning and follow the cause. When I first read what the slogan was, “slutwalk” I could not believe that people were actually using that as a slogan. As I read on I now understand the meaning and I think that we should walk because there are women out there that get raped and molested and people need to be more aware of what is happening. I know that I would walk for this cause because as a woman I would never want this to happen to me. It is not fair that there are women that are getting hurt because they are being called a slut because of the clothes they were. I think that this article was very helpful in making me aware of what is happening to my peers.

  39. Melissa Bada says:

    I feel incredibly lucky to have grown up with Madonna as an influence in women’s liberation. Madonna has had many public incarnations and as a result, has represented many subcultures bringing them into the mainstream for mass consumption and, of course, critique. Among her many representations of the female, Madonna has played the exotic nymph, the glamorous beauty, and the androgynous provocateur. Beyond her explorations of the feminine, Madonna has also personified numerous cultures such as gay culture, Indian, Asian and Latin cultures. Yet it is fascinating that a woman who has achieved an enormous amount of success also embodies the quintessential negative associations of women (greedy, manipulative, sexually deviant, gold-digger, etc.). Michael Jackson and Prince have both arguably reached similar levels of success but with very different consequences. Madonna confronts the hegemonic ideology of women and turns it on its head. It is no wonder then that the dominant groups view her as a threat to the status quo. Madonna taught us girls about our own power and not to be afraid of our own sexuality and how to embrace it. For example, she cites numerous examples of women literally silenced by men or by society. Women are consistently shone as passive and vulnerable in the media . Media and advertising targeting young girls encourages them to strive for beauty so they can “get the guy.” From a very early age, girls are taught that their main objective is to find a husband who will care for them.

    There is a clear double standard at play in the media, which tells men that they must be active, strong, and opinionated. Although, there have been strong female images in the media prior to Madonna, no one has had the reach that Madonna has had or the influence she has had over other young girls. The Madonna of the early 1980′s was playful, innocent, and provocative in her fashion statements. She was hardly a threat to anyone. But as the 80′s were coming to a close, Madonna was finding her voice, and it would incite an uproar. Madonna’s image at the time was that of a blatant sexual being that was not only in control of her sexuality but also proud of it. In the 1984 song, “Like A Virgin,” Madonna sings:

    “You’re so fine
    And you’re mine
    Make me strong
    Yeah you make me bold
    Oh your love thawed out
    Yeah your love thawed out
    What was scared and cold
    Like a virgin
    Touched for the very first time”

    Madonna sings of sex making her stronger, bolder, as opposed to sex being the means to making her a possession of the man in question. The message to young girls was to own their sexuality for their own personal enjoyment, not for the sake of giving it over to Mr. Right. Madonna herself has publicly said that she was interested in holding up a mirror to society to show them that a woman can be intelligent, powerful, and sexual.

    From her interpretations on feminine power, gender relations, sexuality, and cultural identity, it is clear that Madonna has a lot to say. Her power as an entertainer is immense with influences over other artists, fashion, music, and our social and cultural values. She rebelled against the hegemonic ideology of the early 1980s and has played a significant role in developing the identity of the modern woman as an independent and sexual being. This has not gone unpunished by the dominating group of white, heterosexual men who have vilified her, asked for her excommunication from the Vatican, and questioned her motives for the most benign of things including her interests in a spiritual enlightenment, and most recently her adoption of an African baby. No rebel goes unpunished.

    In closing, say and loud and be proud. Whether your a slut or not, your a women and by that alone your paving the way for how our future society views woman and I’m all for taking back the word “slut” and owning it. I can dress in costumes everyday as if it was Halloween but that does not entitle me to candy now does it?

  40. Lady P. says:

    I think that if a girl is fashionable and likes to personalized herself by her wardrobe, such as wearing daisy dukes, low top and a super high heels, doesn’t necessarily means that she is a slut. Our wardrobe is not a signal for men to violate our privacy and dignity. Some people argues that we are becoming a bait to men when we wear very sex clothes, even if this is true no one is still allowed to cross the boundaries unless they were given a consent to do so.

  41. Simona S says:

    Let me start out by saying that I support any event or initiative that aims to take a stand against violence (of any kind, really), educate the public about the realities of sexual assault, and foster sensitivity towards victims. Therefore, I support SlutWalk. However, I also had reservations about the use of the word “slut”, because I felt it might imply to some that, though victims of sexual assault have undeniably been wronged, they are still, well, sluts—even if only in appearance. And what does that mean, anyway? Probably different things to different people.

    When I learned the word, the meaning didn’t focus so much on wardrobe choices. It meant you had sex with many different men—and possibly for some kind of compensation. And maybe I’m unclear on the meaning of “reclaiming a word” (and here I can’t help but be reminded of the “taking it back” scene in Clerks 2…), but if we “reclaim” the word slut, what message are we sending, exactly? I like to think we are advocating women’s sexual freedom and freedom of expression and choice freed from the fear of violence and judgment.

    However, given the confusing messages we (and especially young girls) are constantly being bombarded with by the media under the false banner of “empowerment”, I think we need to be cautious. In other words, I’m afraid that for young, susceptible minds, associating the now fuzzy concepts of “slut” and “empowerment” will lead to behavior that is, in fact, anti-feminist—or post-feminist, if you prefer—and therefore be counterproductive. We see examples of this all the time in the media. Perhaps I am veering off topic, though.

    I would rather the word slut not be used at all, frankly. As others have pointed out, there is no male equivalent and the negative connotations of the word are too deeply embedded in our culture to guarantee a completely successful “reclaiming,” in my opinion. However, I know that’s not realistic. So – if using the word “slut” helps grab people’s attention towards a good cause, then I’m all for it. After all, if SlutWalk had been called “Walk About the Sociological Implications of Blaming the Victims of Sexual Assault”, we probably wouldn’t be talking about it.

    The first people to tell us that there is little to no correlation between a woman’s attire or attitude and her chances of being sexually assaulted would probably be rapists themselves, if they ever felt inclined to that level of introspection. The Canadian policeman may have been misinformed and insensitive, but he is far from being alone in his mentality and he probably thought he had women’s best interest at heart. Will he ever really see things differently? Probably not. But maybe he and others can become sensitized to the issue enough to actively address it with their children. Who knows, maybe in a few generations, victim-blaming will have been eradicated. What an accomplishment that would be! Therefore, I think initiatives like SlutWalk are great to get a conversation going, to start raising awareness. They’re an important step in addressing the issue, but unfortunately they aren’t a solution.

  42. Ruzanna S says:

    This was an interesting read for me. I never really paid attention to the word “slut” in any other way, other than the negative meaning of it. By reading this article it seems like the word “slut” has a new meaning and it’s 3rd wave of feminism coming in to play. But then there’s the general view of the word “slut” and what’s sad is that it is this term that is used more often and it’s mostly women calling other women slut for the degrading meaning of it, which is sad. Women should support eachother and stop the name calling, we are already living under patriarchy and are bashed in most every aspect and situation, yet we criticise eachother and look down on women who are not affraid of their sexuality and are more vocal about it.

  43. Sandy Bo says:

    The actions and the reasons of the movement “SlutWalk” doesn’t bother me. In fact, we need more organizations like “SlutWalk” to help out women who can’t speak out about their physical abuses and psychological damages from their community. Except, when I first read the name “SlutWalk” in this article the ghetto/vulgar songs came to my mind. Such as

    N.W.A-”Gangsta Gangsta”

    “I got a boyfriend” Bitch stop lyin

    Dumb-ass hooker ain’t nuttin but a dyke”

    Notorious B.I.G- “Big Booty Hoes”

    “Ain’t that a slut (HELL YEA)…”

    [Seriously, why this vulgar cynical is a popular rapper.

    Not only them also female singers such as:

    Christina Aguilera- “Dirty”

    Britney Spear-”3″

    It irks me that women who wears short skirts are portrait as “Slut” because of the media. Ridiculous.

    To be honest, I can’t decide if the word “Slut” it’s appropriate to use for a feminist organization because the meaning and the portrait of the media. On the other hand, it contradict the meaning too by challenging the portrait of the media. Only because I want to dress sexy or like a “prostitute” doesn’t mean I want to get rape or have sex with a stranger. It’s a personal matter of how we choose to dress.

    Good article to get me thinking.

    Notorious B.I.G- “Big Booty Hoes”

    “Ain’t that a slut (HELL YEA)…”

    [Seriously, why this vulgar cynical is a popular rapper.

    Not only them also female singers such as:

    Dirrty – Christina Aguilera

  44. Charity C. says:

    Ok…I think I might have waited to open that invitation as well. I at age 36 also have a younger feminist militant side. But as an African American female I think taking back the word slut is about as important as taking back the word Nigger. I will not tolerate my sons or nephews referring to each other as “my Nigga” no matter how affectionately they say they mean it now. When I was marching and carrying similar signs as the women in the picture it was for Take Back The Night marches. Demanding that the streets be deemed safer for women to walk to streets. I am from Seattle, WA originally and around the time I was marching their was a popular band called the Gitz that played local venues often. They were starting to gain national notoriety when one night Mia Zapata, the groups lead singer disappeared after leaving a gig one night. It took years of investigation and the popularization of DNA testing to figure out a taxi driver who was now in Florida had kidnapped, raped and murdered Mia after picking her up as one of his fares. It’s amazing that the very street she was kidnapped off of was the same one that we marched along annually to Take Back The Night. Ladies we do not need to take back derogatory terms referring to our gender but instead I think it far more important to take back our safety and right to walk anywhere dressed as we want without being abused verbally or worse.

  45. Olive Anagu says:

    This is a big one to me. First I will not walk slut because I do not see why. But women who feel by walking slut they are making the future easier for younger girls, I do not have a problem with it. The question I have is why should anyone of us allow the issue of men calling us names mean so much. I feel they call us those names because they are jealous of our bodies. If they had a body like ours they will not be so hostile. I also think it is a good idea for young women to feel free to wear what they want with out being called any names like slut etc.Our freedom as American citizens should allow us power to dress like we feel and like.

  46. Ebony A. says:

    It was early September of 1998, school had just began and I was so proud to be starting my last year of high school, Senior Year. I was walking home from school and a man pulled his car up to me claiming that he was scouting for people willing to work in a telemarketing company. There was also a young girl assisting him as his passenger. I was ready to start earning my own money and becoming more independent. Anyways, to make a long story short, I made arrangements to meet up with these people, they seemed farely honest people. As a result, I was kidnapped, tied to a bed, and raped for three days when finally, I was abled to talk him into taking me home. The young girl who he was with, oddly enough, had hopped out of the car on our way back from our orientation. I thought it strange, but I had no way of knowing then, or ever what that was about. I could only imagine.

    What I was wearing was hardly scanty, maybe figure appealing at best. But I do believe that what I was wearing had little to do with if at all. When a man lacks such self-control that he cannot control his self enough not to harm and de-foul another human being is inhumane. There is no excuse for that at all. For a man to even attempt to come up with en excuse to validate or justify doing something so degrading to another human being is incomprehensible. There are no excuses, none, and that’s the bottom line. A woman can dress as she pleases and so can a man, but to violate one another crosses any and all lines. It’s hard for me to even fathom that this is even a real debate. If someone tells you no, they mean no. Men who rape women, and then have the audacity to say that it was her fault are sick at best.

    As for this slut walk debate, I’m kind of at odds with myself on this issue. To me people do put power in the words and not the other way around. With that said, all of our society knows what the word slut insinuates, and it’s not good. Instead of trying to change the meaning, just don’t use the word except for what it’s for. Yea, some women may be sluts, but that’s just their prerogative. It certainly doesn’t mean that a man has the right to take what is not offered in any case. So now that we know to call an apple an apple, and an orange an orange, why in the world would you want to give something as such the title “slutwalk” that is supposed to promote women’s rights and so on and so on? I am trying to understand and be open minded about it, but it is a little confusing to me. Either way, I respect their cause and drive and inspiration, but I would not myself have given the name “slutwalk” to such a march. As I myself was confused by the title and had not correctly guessed exactly what the title was for prior to reading the article, I imagine scores of others have guessed it wrong and may or may not have been at odds with their feelings of the title. Why not just be less controversial and title the march something more fitting and appropriate. Sometimes, it could all be so simple to find the answers and resolutions, but we’d rather make it hard.

  47. Ebony A. says:

    And just one more thing, I believe that I can dress however I want, but I’m far from a slut. Your actions make you a slut, not what you wear.

  48. This article do not make no sense at all, basically is saying that women should dress the way they want without being called a slut or a victim of rape. Who are we to blame for sexual harassment nobody but ourselves and society? The way a women dress has so many meaning to it and we women know that. If you are married you wouldn’t go to walk wearing tights clothes and short skirt that saying everyone can see what belongs to my husband. Even though the word slut walk draws attention to society it do not make no sense to stopping of rape. Every woman should be very careful the way they dress among people. The name needs to be change because there is no way me nor my 18 year old daughter will ever walk the slutwalk.

  49. Monica C says:

    Walking around in a short skirts sometimes gives the wrong message “I got it, you want it, can’t have it”. For some men, it is very hard for them to resist anything under the skirt. At the same time, am not saying is right for these men to take advantage of ladies when they are dressed like that. Men should try and have some self control, but when they start to loss it, then I can regard them as dogs. . Even though the slut walk drew attention of the society, it has not stopped raping of women in our society today.

  50. Lavel F says:

    Blaming the victim is a compassionless act, we are all interconnected and entitled to feel a since of dignity. Whatever you chose to wear lady’s that is your right !

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