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. Slutwalk Tehran 2012!

    Join our cause!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Slutwalk-Teheran-2

  2. I will probably get blasted for this, but I am so over this Slutwalk thing, never was into it in the first place. What a huge overreaction to one dumb statement by a cop that could have been handled with some well-worded journalism and more public education. Instead, we are wasting precious feminist resources trying to “take back” a word that is hopelessly and forever going to have a pejorative meaning, will always be associated with promiscuity and possibly prostitution, and will never-check it- NEVER be considered a compliment when said to a woman. And dressing provocatively and marching down the street calling myself the very name that I was called by the men who raped and abused me since I was a child doesn’t feel like empowerment; it feels like revictimization. No thank you. I think the “movement” has made its point. Now all of you go home, and let’s figure out a way to ACTUALLY empower women. I think what you’re trying to do her is great, just misguided and ultimately, well, futile, except that it is raising awareness. But in societal vernacular, “slut” will always mean what “slut” has always meant. Sorry.

    • You can be over it when rape is no longer allowed,

      when courts stop implying that

      any girl or boy (man or woman)

      “asked for it” in any way.

      When no longer judges, juries, legal council

      and status quo women stand for social convention out of fear

      and those judges, juries, legal council and women begin to

      and remain standing with those who freely express themselves.

      Whether that freedom of expression is riding a Harley (motorcycle), or highlights in the hair or piercings in the tongue, or fingernail polish on the fingers and toes or wearing sandals without stockings.

      When does the victim get to stop being a victim,

      when will individuals and women stop!

      associating blame/shame with a word?

      Witch, Whore, Slut, Lesbian, Dyke, Bitch, empowered!

      We are still empowered, use the empowerment instead of returning to fear.

  3. laura krueger says:

    “TAKING SLUT BACK”:the meaning of the word IS changing. young girls prefer to be called a slut rather than a bitch. is this better? I don’t know. when I was at highschool, if they started calling you a slut, you could forget it. not one guy would ask you to go out. this has changed, I think. I even found a brand of t-shirts using the word slut, and not in the negative way: http://slutshirt.spreadshirt.com/ is it better? I don’t know. but it IS changing.

  4. rayleen lopez gws300 says:

    I do not get offended by the word slut nowadays just becauuse of the fact that it is so over-used that it makes me think, what is a slut? The words Slutwalk totally blew me away and couldnt believe my eyes, however, reading more in to it explained and cleared up my confusion. Rape victims, sexual asulted and abused victims etc. should have the right to march for themselves. Who is to say we do not deserve respect? I am sure this gave feminists horrible stereotypes and more negative connotations under their belts, but sometimes a bold heading (Slut Walk) is needed to get their point across. If knew sooner i would of been there happy to help.

  5. Although the name does attract media attention for the wrong reasons, their intentions are great. For an officer to blame victims of sexual harassment for dressing too “slutty”is outrageous. This remark is downright ignorant and misogynistic, suggesting that females culpable for being sexually harassed.

  6. Bridget T. says:

    As an Canadian citizen who grew up in Toronto, I am utterly disgusted by the sexist comment the officer made about women being targeted for rape. I grew up with these officers. I remember as a child that they would make regular visits to school to even talk about the subject of rape. This is a common tactic for “blaming the victim”. Because of the way they dress, it is their fault that they are being victimized.

    It is amazing how much impact a single word can have on others: slut. The word is so powerful that we had to name this political movement “SlutWalk”. I also completely agree that such a word would only be used in a patriarchal view of women’s sexuality. The word “slut” would not exist otherwise.

  7. I had no idea this “Slutwalk” movement was going on. I would have totally went and supported in the LA walk. I have heard judges and people around me say. “Oh they deserve it, did you see the way they were dressed?” That gives nobody any right to rape or assault women. Half the women raped are dressed in normal clothes. If a guy is walking down the street with no shirt on, there’s no problem but if a women is walking down the street with her stomach showing and shorts on, she’s automatically a SLUT. People that have problem with the word “slut” can look past that, and really focus on what the walk is for. I admire the people who have come out and showed their commitment and support for this movement. I Love it. Can’t wait till there is another Slut walk in LA, count me in!

  8. I don’t understand why the way a woman dresses is always discussed when a woman gets raped. For instance, if a woman dresses very “revealing”, short skirt, tight tops etc it is suddenly her fault because “look how she dresses” and she must be a slut. I know that it is pretty common to be judged by the way we act and dress but for God’s sake, let a person be who they want to be and dress how they want to dress. How you dress does not make you a slut. It is a choice we make and it is what we feel comfortable wearing. The words “slut” and “bitch” are, sadly, used so often by men towards women. If a woman sleeps with a lot of men she is a slut but if a man sleeps with a lot of women he is THE MAN. Honestly, that shows us how men are favored in society. A man is allowed to do whatever he wants and he still keeps a good name but a woman has to be careful about every move she makes. I honestly admire people who show commitment for this movement and they get out there and make themselves heard. We have to do that in order to see changes. The changes that have been made for women’s rights took a lot of brave and persistent women through the years to make changes to women and get us where we are today. So let’s not stop, we should keep speaking up and make more changes. Women deserve attention, women deserve respect. A lot more people should support the movement. Power to women!

  9. Willemina v. says:

    The interpretation of many women that stripper-pole classes are a vehicle to empowerment makes absolute sense to me. Hugo Schwyzer states above that the freedom to be sexual is one of the vital liberties the SlutWalk movement is fighting for and stripper-pole classes are just that, a freedom to be sexual. I haven’t been sexually empowered through stripper-pole classes myself but I do believe it is a legitimate tool in sexual empowerment for many other women … just as The Vagina Monologues embrace “the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality.” I think that whatever works to empower a woman should be celebrated, whether it be through a stripper-pole, her vagina, or her claiming the word slut.

  10. Jonteen R says:

    For an officer to blame women for the cause of sexual harassment just by dressing slutty is ubsurd. we live in the 21st century and so that shouldnt be the reason why women get sexually harassed left and right.

  11. I think that it is important for society to stop using the word slut to describe girls who are more sexually liberated than others. There shouldn’t be a judgment placed upon a women who wants to have sex. Men get away with this all the time and there is nothing wrong with women doing it too. When most people think of sluts the think of girls who have sex too much and are therefore dirty. Yet if a man has a lot of partners he is seen in a positive light. This is a big problem and I think that we need a level playing field. Everyone should be able to do as they please with their sexuality, as it is theirs, not societies to tell them what to do with it.

  12. Breanna K says:

    When I volunteered to help out with SlutWalk LA, I found myself in the same predicament. I don’t think we should reclaim the word “slut” or that it’s even all that possible. I agree that it’s so deeply-rooted in patriarchy that it’s just almost too much or too outlandish to think we can reclaim it. Maybe in our little circles of like-minded friends, but not in mainstream culture.

  13. Gabriel Y. says:

    Personally i think that slut is a very downgrading word to call a woman simply because of her sexual activity. It also comes with other different negative connotations such as dirty, maniac, or other crazy words. I dont think women should be called in any negative or derogatory term. As a man, I know that a woman is God’s greatest gift to us and therefore we should not downgrade it to any level.

  14. Tiffany M says:

    Women often hear the word slut a lot . It’s so ridiculous that men who have sexual experience are called player and women who have had different sex partners are sluts or whores. A girl or woman could be called a slut even if she is sexually active. My friend was called a slut because she had dress provocatively which is no one’s concern. It was kinda sad but yet insulting because men can say such harsh things which is negative. I believe that women should not be judge by their appearance the fact that how they want to dress. The slut stigma is also discriminatory in that it is always pertain to females. Society needs to stop portraying us women being called a slut on how we choose to dress, we should feel free and not label as the word slut.

  15. I was actually going to go to SlutWalk Los Angeles, but had other plans that day. I think SlutWalk was a great response to that Canadian officer who has said something that many other people have said. Please tend to blame the victim or come up with some excuse saying they asked for it. No one would ever tell someone who was mugged that they asked for it. No one would ever blame someone for getting mugged. No one would ever question their attire and say they looked “too wealthy” and had it coming. No one would ever say those things because it’s absurd. It is just as absurd to blame the victim of any form of sexual assault. I think SlutWalk brought in the conversation to ask ourselves and each other “why are people still victim-blaming?”.

  16. I’ve always grappled with the whole idea of reclaiming the word slut, and this article really outlined all the different issues behind this certain form of protest. While I understand and respect the idea behind reclaiming the word, I suppose I always felt like, why would you want to reclaim that word? It’s a nasty word? Why did we even need it in our vocabulary…ever? After reading this article, and hearing so many people’s views on this, the thing that stuck out to me is that while we all quibble over this detail, women are still being assaulted. And at the end of the day, reclaiming the word slut was a tool used in generating a movement for something far bigger and more important, and furthermore, came about mostly in response to the ambivalence and inadequacies of our justice system’s response to rape and abuse. While I don’t think that I’ll be going around using the word slut to describe my sisters any time soon, this article provided a lot of food for thought for me, on an issue that needs to be given a lot of thought.

  17. Growing up, the term slut, as well as other similar terms, has become part of my everyday vocabulary. More times than often they are used to judge other girls. These terms should be used differently. Women should be able to express themselves without being labeled as something. They should be able to walk down the street wearing a revealing outfit and feeling proud of themselves. Yet society is so twisted that we have come to believe that a women who reveals herself is a slut. Yet at the same time we are told to be revealing because that is how women will be accepted.

  18. It’s infuriating that there are such reactions to sexual assault and rape from the justice system! Just because you’re wearing a certain type of clothes, it shouldn’t mean you’re more likely to get raped. Like Nisha, I also grapple with the idea of reclaiming the word slut. It’s viewed as a derogatory term and I can see why it should be reclaimed. However, it wasn’t what the Slutwalk was primarily about. In the end, it was more about anti victim blaming. I think it’s great that they were able to bring up such issues and spark conversations about it.

  19. Eleazar Capuz says:

    As male in my experience the term “slut” has been used time and time again as a way to degrade women. Not only just by what they are wearing or how they are acting, but when I hear people use the term slut it is more along the lines as – “that girl is EASY, or seen as another number to add to a guys list of how many women he has slept with. It is a bit alarming in today’s society because when a woman is called a slut it may be due to the fact that she is wearing revealing clothing to attract men and therefore she is more likely to get raped as opposed to a woman who is wearing less revealing clothing. This is what the media has portrayed to us, and caused us to believe.

  20. Destiny O says:

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with SlutWalk using the term “slut”. I don’t have a problem with them using that term because I think it is bringing awareness of how often and easily that term is thrown around. Our society so freely calls a woman a slut if she’s wearing a short skirt, yet that girl wearing the short skirt may actually be a virgin and nowhere near a slut. Another thing that pisses me off is that if a man is called a slut, it’s not seemed as a problem. The man is actually applauded and looked up to, which is a complete double standard. Why can a man choose to have sex with whoever he wants and get awarded while a woman gets punished through name calling. On the focus of the rape aspect, I also don’t think it is right to say that a woman deserved to be raped because of what she was wearing or how she was acting. No one deserves to be raped; it doesn’t matter if the person is standing there naked. If someone doesn’t want to have sex then they shouldn’t have to have sex or feel the need to be ashamed of that. I think issues like these need to be focused on more, rather than what the march is choosing for their name. Anything that brings awareness to women’s rights and this sexual double standard is great! And plus, the name grabs attention which brings awareness. -D.O.

  21. Before taking a class in High School by the name Becoming a Women and before taking this class I remember that every time I saw a girl dressing provocative or too open I use to think of them as sluts. Maybe it was in part that my mother never let me dress that way. I remember that one time my friends and I made fun of a girl who was walking in the street dressed too provocative simply because guys would shout out unpleasant things from their cars to her. I clearly remember saying “that’s what she gets for dressing like a slut.” After taking the Becoming a Women class and this class and after reading this article, I have come to an understanding that women who dress to open or provocative doesn’t necessarily make them sluts. I also understand that it does mean that they are asking to be assault or rape. The way a women dresses doesn’t give no man or women the right to call them sluts or to take advantage of them. Regardless of how a women dresses, it doesn’t insure them that they would be more or less safe.

  22. DeAngelo H. says:

    . I do see the direction of Slutwalk however as a guy I feel that name doesn’t serve the strategic purpose well. As an African American I would rather the Million Man march be called that instead of the Million N****r March for the simple reason that the goal is to raise awareness and change opinions about the issues at hand. If we continue to use a derogatory word to describe ourselves then the word and its meaning still lives and the energy behind the objective will be lost because the negative association with the world is still the first facet of the movement that is recognizable. One of my professors told me, “It’s not what your called but it’s what you answer to.” Nonetheless if that’s the approach they feel is needed to gain the media attention then I guess that what you have to work with. But I think the slogan could be better to give a more solid foundation for change in the media and the ideology of a male driven society.

  23. Salina G says:

    This reminds me of incident that provoked the onset of Denim Day. What disgusts me and makes me angry is that each time a rape incident occurs, where the man attacks a woman, the man must retort with “well if she didn’t dress like a slut, I wouldn’t have raped her”. Or “I was too drunk to remember”. Or “she wanted it, she said no,but she meant yes”. Really, can you sound more ignorant than you look. The bottom line is, although I don’t dress so appealing with boobs and ass hanging out, both women and men have the freedom in this country to dress how ever they choose to. Not one person can make another person do something by the way they look. Slutwalk is an awesome way to get attention, even people who despise the word will curiously look on to see what the actual walk is all about.

  24. Elvis Rosales says:

    Very interesting movement. This is my first time hearing about it. It is great that women are standing up to subordination by men. Also interesting it the name chosen to represent the movement. Slutwalk is a movement which aims to end rape and harassment and sexual repression. No other name can encompass such a movement with so few words. The definition of the word slut has been set by patriarchal beliefs that a woman is too sexually promiscuous. Addi tonally, the idea that a woman ‘deserves’ to get raped because of what she is wearing is preposterous. In shedding the predisposed definition of the word ‘slut’ it empowers woman to not be afraid of dressing certain ways, or to be sexual without feeling shame.

  25. Slutwalk is an admirable protest to bring attention to their cause halting the convenient victim blaming as well as igniting new conversation on the subjects of violence, harassment, and sexual assaults. The name alone can peak a wider audiences interest enough to learn even a little bit about the purposes behind such a movement. The fact that a police officer’s careless word’s brought up such a strong backlash that people will not take this abuse and are no longer willing to allow themselves to be victimized is astounding. The need of some participants to re-appropriate the term slut is a lost cause; the word is just too far gone to ever be anything other than derogatory towards females. I do believe blaming the victim is a horrible action to take in any given situation, people should be free to dress the way they please, especially if it’s meant to be a type of self-expression or self-empowerment.

  26. Jennifer says:

    I can’t believe I have never heard of something like this. This is a great way to get people’s attention and has a great purpose. My first assumption was negative based simply on the name, but after reading the article and what the committee states, this is definitely something I would be interested in participating in. I would however love if they changed their name, because I am sure others, like me, would jump to a conclusion that this is a negative protest, but it is not at all! Perhaps that is the point, to bring more attention. Words like slut or retarded are so common and I hear them so often, they are often stereotypical and extremely exaggerated, so SlutWalk is very admirable for the aim of eliminating subordination and bringing awareness. I am definitely going to look into getting involved.

  27. Justine B says:

    I was taught to not allow words to hurt me, therefore feminist using slut does not offend me. I believe they needed to call it SlutWalk because it is more catchy than saying anti rape walk. If I saw an article with the word slutwalk in the title I would be more inclined to read it and educate myself on the cause. Although I understand the importance of owning words like bitch or slut, however I still would prefer them to not be used. I know females that call their other female friends their “bitches”, which is another word for best friends. I refuse to allow my friends call me a bitch in those terms because I feel those words need to be abolished. I feel there are a lot more educated terms one could use to say close friend or describe someones dress.

  28. Ajalah T. says:

    I personally think that the reclaiming of words like slut and bitch are happening especially within the younger comminutes, which I myself am a part of. Many of my girl friends and I call each other bitches, sluts and whores and it is in no way used in reference to our sexual activity. No word or saying is too discriminatory to be reclaimed by those who have been victims of the term. If the African American community can successfully reclaim the N word then why can’t women reclaim words like slut? Similarly like the word slut is being condemned by feminist of older generations the reclaiming of the N word has been rebuked by most African Americans who grew up in a time before my own. As a young feminist I have no problem with the movement being termed slutwalk and I definitely support what they are trying to accomplish. I personally feel that people get too caught up on names and titles at the end of the day all that matters is what you choose to represent and the discrimination that you fought to change.

  29. Montana C. says:

    This article was interesting. Before I decided how to interpret the message, I had to reflect and consider how I felt about the term “slut” and whether or not I wanted it to be reclaimed. The word left a bad taste in my mouth, when I thought of it. I was annoyed with the name of the movement and felt it was emphasizing the wrong point. But then, I realized that was the point. The point was to make people think and reclaim our right to define the word as we so choose. I was most moved by the cause of the movement. How dare a man or woman or anyone blame a victim for for their assault, because of the way they are dressed or act? While I am not advocating for anyone to run out and about topless or anything, the fact that the first reaction to many is “well, she had it coming”is the great tragedy. Where is the pity and sorrow for her? For every woman that is attacked? While the name may be the attention grabber for the organization, the message is loud and clear for everyone to hear.

  30. LilianaC says:

    This is a good example of the way woman is oppressed by a simple word. There are no words used to describe a man in a negative way when it comes to being sexual. Instead Men are encouraged to be as sexual as possible. The word slut is just causing many problems for woman. This word should not be used to make excuses for a man to shame any woman. They are using this word to justify their crimes. There are people who use the word in a ridicule way. Female friends calling each other slut is also a way that the word is being used. We have made this word to be used in a sexual way. How has it become that the way we dress is the issue for men attacking woman. It is not right that the female victims of assault are blamed for provoking the men. The media has also played a role in using the word slut by giving images of what they see as a slut. Overall we should all be respected equally and not use slut as a justification.

  31. To be honest this is the first i’ve heard of the SlutWalk. After reading about it, it looks like something I would be interested in doing, for it supports a cause I stand strongly for. However after really thinking about the goals of the movement and the name they chose to represent it, I am left in utter confusion. In my opinion it is a complete contradiction, to walk around dressed provocatively and yourself a slut in a battle built complete against that. But maybe that is the point, irony. To me, the name is simply no reflection on the actually movement, but a marketing scheme aimed to raise controversy and raise awareness. If so, it’s working.

    With that said, I think the goals of feminist movements, or any movements for that matter should rely solely on the goals of the protest to gain supporters and not some catchy slogan. In my opinion the word slut is rooted too deeply with negative commentary for me to be okay with marching around calling myself or anyone else around me one.

  32. FabiolaP says:

    I have neverheard of SlutWalk before, and if I was simply “surfing” the web and came across this term, I would probably not look into it because of the name. After reading the cause for the walk I support the cause, but I dislike the name. Instead of wanting to take back this name, why not fight to erase it completely. “Slut” will always cary a negative connotation, just as “bitch” continues to be a negative term as well.
    As for the cause, I agree that women should wear whatever they want to without fearing any repercussions. (Though I do think there are inappropriate clothing options). Women should not feel like they asked for violence because of their taste in clothes. I will gladly spread the cause, but will likely not spread the
    name.

  33. Jessica Serrano says:

    I agree that the name SlutWalk is harsh and may give off the wrong vibe at first, but I believe that it is a good cause that women should stand for. I do think that the name will always cause controversy but hopefully with this those views can change or the word will be gone forever. I personally would prefer the latter. I also feel that women should not be judged by the clothes they wear or be told that they deserved the violence they experienced because they were dressed a certain way or intoxicated. This is completely wrong. Women should dress how they want and drink when they want and men should take responsibility for their actions.

  34. 8. I see how the name of the movement may enrage some people but the cause they are working for is great. In some way it is good that they use Slutwalk as the name of their movement because it brings and grabs the attention of people, especially the media, they become interested into knowing what it is about. This way the message that they are fighting for can be delivered to people. I think the message that this organization is pin pointing out is great because many women who are raped get blame for it, they are blamed because of the way they were dressing and that is seen as asking to being rape, and that is not right because we should have the right to dress however we want and not be shamed or blame for it.

  35. Kyle Rudell says:

    When I first read about the “SlutWalk,” I had an immediate (and negative) visceral reaction. I had never heard of it before, and I just pictured women walking around in tight/short skirts, etc., proclaiming their right to do so.

    Upon reading further, I can understand what it’s all about. I definitely agree that far to often, you hear about how women “were asking for” or “deserved” being sexually assaulted for the way they were dressed; no one ever “asks” to be raped, and those excuses are so flimsy that it’s disgusting and completely sexist. Dressing a certain way has no correlation to sexual promiscuity. Attitudes like that definitely need to be addressed and fought against. HOWEVER, I don’t think the word “slut” can be reclaimed; there are far too many negative connotations and images associated with the word, and has such a long history that I don’t think it will ever be undone. I think almost any woman would be offended if someone referred to them as a “slut.”

  36. Adrienne S says:

    I completely agree with the goals and intent of the SlutWalk; however I do agree that the word “slut” does bring up negative images. SlutWalk is fighting for an amazing cause and does bring up valid issues with both our society’s beliefs and the government’s system for dealing with rape, however it could use a better choice of word. When I think of the word “slut” I agree that it brings up stereotypical ideas of a women’s sexuality. The word is also very negative and frequently used as an insult. While SlutWalk is aiming to change the idea of the word, I agree that it is a slightly useless effort when words like “liberated” and “sexually empowered” already exist. These words are more positive and allow the goal to stop blaming rape victims to take center stage. However, the word “slut” in SlutWalk does grab attention which may do more good for the cause then bad. It is a very attention-grabbing word and may have helped with the instant popularity of the marches. So while I disagree with the use of the word “slut” in SlutWalk, I do think it has benefited the cause somewhat.

  37. Kayla Ainsworth says:

    I never knew about the Slutwalk until reading this. I believe it is very inspirational for other women to stand up against rape and sexual assault. Women should be able to wear whatever they want even it is sexy it is our bodies , our lives and how we dress it is no one’s business. I never have been called a slut, well not to my face if I have. But the way I dress or how I approach certain people, I have a lot of sex appeal and NO it’s not for the attention it’s because I love my body, I love that I can be a women and do and become whatever I want. Now-a-days the term “slut” is misused, friends call their other friends sluts in a funny way never to harm them. My motto If you have it flaunt it regardless what people say about you and if that make you a slut then oh well opinions shouldn’t hurt someone anyways. But when it comes to rape and sexual assault that will always be around and that goes for women that don’t even dress “slutty” innocent ones are victims to. I am for the Slutwalk.

  38. J. Prock says:

    While I agree with why these people are walking and protesting…. but I do not like that they are idealizing the word slut. Why are these women sluts at all for dressing a specific way? I want to be a proud sexual woman without being labeled a slut. Like the blogs stated… this word is too far gone. There is no use in wasting the feminist movements time on trying to redeem it, let patriarchy keep it. We should continue to fight for the rights of victims though. No man, woman, or child should feel like their attack was caused by them or that they deserved it. Every human deserves the dignity to live in peace.

  39. Slut has become a popular word. I don’t think I go a day without hearing someone say it. The sad thing is it’s coming from females mostly, especially high school aged girls. It is one thing for women to reclaim the word slut and stop being blamed when rape occurs, but it is another thing to actually have girls calling each other sluts. We want freedom from these harsh words meanings, but how can freedom be obtained if we are using these words against each other? Yes, men call women sluts still too, but I swear 90% of the time it’s female to female. Why call one another names if we are all trying to reach a higher ground where we are not chained down by sexist hurtful names? Young girls are only bringing women down when they use terms such as slut and cunt against each other. I don’t so much agree to call the whole thing SlutWalk, I’d much rather participate in an event with a much more positive name like Take Back The Night. Same thing, different titles. The later just sounds more classy if you ask me. If you don’t want to be victimized and called names by others, we have to stop victimizing and calling each other names.

  40. I find using the word Slut as there slogan in the movement against sexual violence is great to get peoples attention. Not only are these women straight forward with their mission but they do it with swagger. I believe in these days of mass social networking people are more open and free to express themselves. The meaning of slut that I first learned was someone most likely a female who slept around with other guys, and dressed in tight short dresses. Rather then getting positive attention like how guys get praised for sleeping with lots of women and wearing no shirts or pants, women are despised with the same actions. I think once again gender roles plays a factor on certain actions that takes place between sexes. Going back to the slutwalk and their mission of addressing sexual violence, I don’t people should judge them by the name of their group or take offense to it. Because at the end of the day their the ones making a difference.

  41. Melissa M. says:

    I found this post very interesting the fact that we want to reclaim the word “Slut” to me was a little it confusing for me when I initially heard about this movement because I immediately thought about the negative conations associated with the word and wondered why anyone would want to reclaim that but reading more into the movement I was intrigued. I believe the word slut, is used by society to make woman refrain from behavior that they see as deviant and unacceptable for a woman. For example the double standard always associated with our sexuality if a woman is in control of her sexuality and explores is she is automatically labeled a “slut” while males are praised for the same actions. Also we are judged by the clothing we wear and of course if in the opinions of men or older women we are dressed to proactively we are labeled a slut as well. Being labeled a slut can have negative reactions such as reputation and judgments, it can also effect creditability in cases of rape and that is why so many women stray from anything associated with the word slut. I think a woman in charge of her appearance and sexuality is powerful and intimidating that is why she is labeled this way.

  42. Elizabeth D. says:

    To reclaim slut or not? That is the question. I find myself entwined in answering this question. I love the whole concept behind the SlutWalk but at the same time I find it a difficult task to be able to reclaim the word slut. Knowing how the word is continuously used through media, through casual conversations, men and women use the word too often. And of course, the word slut depicts women in a negative connotation. I also, think about how other cultures comprehend the meaning of slut, especially here in the U.S. having such a diverse culture it can cause many conflicts about the views of what the SlutWalk movement represents. In my opinion, it would be a challenge. However, times have changes and views have changed. SlutWalk has created such a controversial topic by just the name alone. Many don’t understand but like I said, women of today are enlightening to the issues of sexual assault with a big bang. It is true that women can’t be open about their own sexuality, and it’s all because of what women wear. Our feminist mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers have brought women to continue the liberation movements, and the SlutWalk is just one of them. Sexual assault is never right; advocating the issue may cause an impact to the public and maybe the word slut can be reclaimed in a positive, empowering, and respectful way.

  43. Wesley L. says:

    Whenever I heard the word slut it was directed to those girls who dressed in clothing that exposed most of their body, or girls who were easy to get at, basically the whores. This word was used to either identify a girl and poke fun of her, or to so call educate her in not wearing such cloths or acting in such a way. For the educating part, society thinks if we say, “stop acting and dressing like a slut,” we are basically saying that you appearance and attitude will bring harm to you. Harm such as, rape, which is believed to be (myth) brought on by females provoking and teasing the males, due to their obscene clothing and attitude. In the picture from Slut Walk, a poster said “Ask, listen, respect.” And “short skirt doesn’t equal consent.” From what I understood by reading these posters is that, women don’t bring about rape and sexual aggression of the opposite sex. They don’t agree with the term slut to be used to distinguish girls who have been rape victims, and you cannot justify rape by calling the victim a slut (sex magnet). I think the term slut doesn’t help the situation, but I do believe that how you act and ones appearance will bring about an outcome whether that is good or bad, or intentional or not.

  44. Kaitlin V says:

    While I agree the SlutWalk is a good movement, the word “slut” resonates with such a bad taste in my mouth. I understand that is the point; to get your attention with a word that society deems as bad, and as a sort of poke at the comment the Canadian officer gave. But it seems there could be other ways of going about this. I would have been proud to participate in a movement if I had known about it; I love marching for causes and the feminist in me would have been so proud! Unfortunately, I was not aware of these proceedings until much later.

  45. Juana Vitela says:

    This is a very strong article and i really embraced it. SlutWalk is a good idea in my opinion to raise awareness and allow women to express themselves without being judge so harshly. We all know that women have been looked down on if they are sexual and if their rapped they are blamed for it. Like an example that I’ve hear in class is that if a woman is harassed or rapped they will blame her for wearing provocative clothes when its in all her right to wear whatever she wants and pleases. A woman should be respected for the simple fact that they are human beings and they shouldn’t be judge on what they wear. I for example love to wear my heels and skirts and go out with my friends to get some drinks and I must add that when we go out I always buddy up with one of my friends because of the constant fear of being attacked. I know that if women dress provocative they will consequently get more attention but our focus should be that that attention be kept positive and not turn into negative actions such as rape.

  46. Jessica C says:

    Taking the term “slut” back? They can keep it, there are too many other adjectives to describe me, and I can go throughout life not being called that. I do think it is an appropriate name for the walk because of the horrid cop story behind why the walk was founded. I feel it is also very blunt and attention grabbing name for a walk. Thinking about it, I do remember only hearing the woman’s actions being questioned when it comes to sexual assault. What SHE was doing, who SHE was with and these becomes lessons for other girls, instead of lessons for other guys. I believe it is still important to teach caution and safety to girls, especially around alcohol. Still, the entire thought process of determining blame needs to be reexamined. Of course it is the man’s fault, always and solely. I want to walk in the SlutWalk.

  47. This is an interesting article. When first seeing the title like many people who have commented, the first thing to come to mind was something negative, because the word slut has such a negative connotation. Using the word does help bring attention to the issues, but I dont beleive the word should is appropriate for all audiences. Maybe another word can be used or exchanged for slut so that this can be taught to more than just adults.

  48. Holly A. says:

    To me the name “SlutWalk” is a bit iffy. I mean the word slut has such a negative connotation and it is associated with such bad ideas and images, that I don’t think I can ever re-appropriate it, at least in my mind. The actual walk itself I think is very important. Just because a women shows skin or dresses a bit provocatively, does NOT mean it is HER fault if she is sexually abused. I mean, COME ON, making a women feel guilty for being raped? Nothing can justify rape. I think women should be able to express themselves through their clothes and style, and they should not be punished for it. Women should be able to WEAR whatever and DO whatever without being called a slut!

  49. Sonia B. says:

    I think that this movement is great because it is for a cause that not many people think of unless they or someone they know have gone through a rape. I am a Criminal Justice major and I think it is sad to think that a police officer basically said that a victim asks for it by the way they dress. This is not right and I believe that those who assault women are men who want to have control and power and look for an “easy target”. It is not necessarily by the way a woman dresses that makes them a victim. I think that SlutWalk is a catchy name and makes people learn about it because it may be the total opposite of what they might think it is. When I first saw the title I thought the article would talk about how girls are judged by the way they dress and walk, but had no idea that it was about being rape victims. I think that we are in a society that uses degrading names when not necessary. I have heard best friends call each other bitch, whore and slut when saying hi to each other. This may be a normal thing for them, but when men are the ones saying it, it is a whole other story. It is insulting when a man calls a woman by these names because it shows that they have no respect and makes us feel like we do not respect ourselves just by the way we dress. If a girl likes to dress a certain way, she should be able to without being judged let alone victimized.

  50. Danielle K. says:

    At first I did not quite understand the idea to regain the word slut, being a female. However, I now understand what it means and I not against it, but then again I am not 100% for it. I do not want to fight to regain the word;I want to fight to get RID of the word. The word itself is so degrading to women. Nowadays, the word is not taken seriously and girls call their own friends this name in a playing way. It neds to be brought to attention how dehumanizing this word is. Women are judged based on the clothes they decide to wear. If a woman’s dress, skirt, or shorts are too short then she can be labeled a slut? No way! I also find it baffling that women are blamed for getting raped because they are asking for it based off of what they wear. “Oh, she’s asking for it with that little skirt on”. That’s the way that both men and unfortunately some women, think.

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