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. Aleksey R. says:

    There are a few problems I see with the naming of the event as a white male. First, it is clear that the more misogynistic men will use this event as an excuse to use the word “slut” in their own dialogue. It is a similar argument that white people use when discussing many racial slurs, in particular the n-word. I’ve heard “if they can use it, why can’t we?” so many times that it isn’t a question whether or not men will take this as a chance to use “slut”. The second major issue I see with this event is that it causes problems within the ranks of feminists. The last thing women need is a division over silly terminology. Obviously there will be differences in terms of knowledge between older and younger feminists, but infighting will in no way benefit feminists in general. It is important that feminists focus on the positive aspects of the movement rather than the aspects they believe are misguided. An underrepresented and disadvantaged group like women need to unite whenever they can rather than fight over something that isn’t nearly as important as the message being conveyed.

  2. Debora G says:

    At first glance, I believe the Slut Walk was for women to reclaim the name which I found disturbing because feminist movement have tried hard to removes world that devalue women. But, as I continued to read I learned that the true purpose of the Slut Walk is to raise awareness for victim blaming in rape situations. Jennifer Pozner starts, “Anything that derives home to 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.” I found this passage extremely enlightening because women were meant to believe that rape happens because they were either out late, wearing exposing clothing, or drinking. Rape is often blamed on the victim rather than the rapist. Many women do not report being raped because of this standards and also because there is not “good enough evidence” to take to trail. The women who do report their rape do not see justice. All in all, rape victims do not benefit from reporting their rape. The Slut Walk does a great job on refocusing the true issue despite the name.

  3. Brittany P says:

    I am honestly amazed about how the word slut has caused so much drama. I personally do not really get too offended by it and I think that by using the word slut is gets people attention. Looking at articles it certainly got my attention and that’s why I was intrigued to read the article. I do understand that it is offensive towards women and it may seem that it only reinforces that women are sluts but I think that people should be able to get past that fact and focus on the meaning of the walk. All these people involved are fighting for “both the freedom to be sexual and the freedom from violence, harassment and rape”. That is a great cause to me no matter what the name is. Also if the name is really such a big deal as the article states do not focus in on the word slut and focus on the world walk. I know that when I go out and I want to look good I don’t want to be afraid to get raped and be told that it was my fault and I was asking for it. No one deserves to be raped and I think that’s a main focus that people should be supporting.

  4. Sophia S. says:

    When reading this article I tried to think of what the world would be like if we didn’t have the word slut and I honestly couldnt picture it. While the idea of reclaiming the word slut sounds great, I don’t think it’s possible. The word slut is so deeply rooted in our society that it seems like a waste of time trying to take it back. On the other hand, putting an end to victim blaming is something that I fully support and stand behind. I think that the emphasis should be put on ending victim blaming and not on the word slut.

  5. Lyndsay P. says:

    SlutWalk isn’t honestly the best name that they could refer this cause to. But I do believe that the rooted interest of the organization are for a good cause. “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.” Sexual assaults against women is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and I feel promoting the proper education to inform both men and women about the realities of such crimes will help reduce the actual amount of sexual assaults. The term “slut” is something as a feminist I degrade. I feel that the title of this cause “Slut Walk” is not exactly appropriate because the word is quite offensive. Reclaiming this derogatory name is not what we should be focusing on. Feminist should look towards erasing this word out of our vocabulary. Sure men use the word to degrade women, but women also use it to degrade other women as well. But overall I really appreciate what the Slut Walk is promoting and think that if this organization continues to spread word that it will benefit many people.

  6. Mohit Sharma says:

    Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency makes a valid point, the term slut is such an attention grabber it takes away from the point of slut walk. Most women I know view the word slut as a negative term they don’t like. With all the baggage the word carries, I understand disliking it. That being said, slut walk fights for a justice that many don’t see. Rape is very common in today’s society and most cases go unreported or the rapist goes free. The idea that women are asking for it when they dress provocatively is appalling, even as a male. I feel that women should be able to express themselves in any manner they wish, be it sexual or non sexual. If a man is going to make the argument that a woman’s clothing made her ask for it, shouldn’t he also say that any man who runs without a shirt or dresses to appeal is asking to be raped as well. By making the “they asked for it” statement, people are taking away the equality feminist have fought for, and implying that a woman who is free in herself is bad in some way.

  7. Mariela P says:

    My problem with the word slut isn’t the word itself but the bad connotation that is associated with it. Although I personally do not agree with women being promiscuous, I am still outraged that if a woman chooses to be highly sexually active she would be considered a slut, but if this was a man we were referring to they would be called a“pimp.” The word “pimp” in contrary does not have a bad connotation associated with it. This is the only reason why I support the word slut. I refuse to be told by society that I may or may not do the same things a man does. I refuse to be looked down for something a man would be valued and praised for. On the other hand, I think this campaign is amazing. Its name may not appeal older generations of colored women such as activist Ernesto Aguilar points out but I am pretty sure it does attract a lot of younger women throughout the nation. An older generation may be hesitant to this new movement but the reality is that our future lies in the younger generation. The young active generation of today will one day be the older group of feminist and activist and that in my personal opinion should be the main focus. Slut Walk does not promote the word slut as pointed out in the article but I can see how the word itself brings a lot of negative and positive attention. Although this is true, my belief is, it does not matter! The truth of the matter is that the walk has nothing to do with the word itself; therefore once media covers this walk activist will be able to voice their true message. Their message of equality and opposition of women abuse is their main focus. There should never ever be any sort of justification for rape. A woman has the complete right to dress however she likes. A man is able to walk along the streets shirtless and this does not make it okay to sexually assault him, then why is it okay to do so to women? I love this message and campaign and would sincerely love to be able to be part of such an astounding movement.

  8. Matthew Smit says:

    The slutwalk sounds very controversial. On one side, it makes sense that women want to have an awareness walk for this cause. On the other however, I can see where this walk has a negative connotation, and borderline vulgar. The reason it is called Slutwalk is to grab the attention of people and use shock value. However, it is not as it would seem, rather women march together to put a stop to rape. It is about embracing feminine freedom and letting people know that what women do does not provoke rape. Great Article.

  9. While I did not have the opportunity to participate in any local SlutWalks, some of my friends did, and I have never felt prouder. Whether or not the term “slut” was in the best interest of feminism, it garnered a massive amount of media attention. At such an important time in the organization and encouragement in my generation’s relationship with feminism, I see it as a worthy risk. Why not spark conversations, why not make people listen? When it comes down to it, SlutWalk was a success. Not only did it open massive amount of political conversations regarding victim shaming and sexual assault, it made people talk. Any steps we can take to make people question what they usually turn a blind eye to are necessary feats. No movement is ever perfect, as Tarrant points out. However I saw my digital news feed overwhelmed with stories of feminism and womanly resolve. My little sisters approached me to talk about the events that were unfolding. It made waves, and hopefully starts another. I too, stand in solidarity with SlutWalk.

  10. Michael C says:

    The word slut has become much more popular over the last 10 years. I understand why women get mad but again men are called such things as well. Slut or whore are used in context for men who sleep around too so its not just women. The reason women are called slut is because they have the power to sleep with whomever the wish and however many people they want. Men can’t do that so the term that has coined men for sleeping around is player. Now I have rarely used the word slut to describe a women because it is such a vulgar word but there are women out there that do describe that word perfectly and there are many men that describe that word to a tee. The media can publicly use this word out of context and that is when women should take offense but the word just being used at times for some women I feel is more of an individual offense and not a group offense towards women.

  11. brittany Fisher says:

    When I initially read the title of this article, anti-violence against women was not what came to my mind. I cannot say I agree with the name “slutwalk,” but I suppose that is not of much concern according to the activists. Using words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ are very controversial and I would not agree that this is the best way to create awareness of anti-violence against women. I am on the fence with the issue of women wearing more revealing clothing, and not expecting any kind of reaction. Although the argument has been made that men are able to wear particular clothing containing sexual messages, women do not have the same luxury. With our culture’s patriarchal beliefs men dominate women, therefore, I am for what “slutwalk” stands for.

  12. Berenice V says:

    Nowadays everyone uses derogatory terms in a lightly manner, such as the word slut. I am guilty of doing so, my best friend and I use the word when we are joking around or when one of us go shopping and try on a very exposed dress, and we joke around saying, “you look like a slut”, after reading this article I thought to myself how does a slut look like??? honestly I don’t even know, but since I can remember this term is just thrown out by men and women. I have noticed though that this term is used lightly among friends but when a man or a girl you are not familiar with call someone a slut all hell breaks loose. Society as well as the media are to be blamed, I can see why this walk is controversial, first of all by naming it Slutwalk, it quickly grabbed my attention. At first, I thought the article was going to be about reconstructing the word slut, but as a read further the purpose of the SlutWalk is to bring to call for an end to victim blaming. They created SlutWalk to ignite a conversation about sexual assault, highlight oppressive slut-shaming. Not so long ago a student in one of my socially classes mentioned that women who dress in slutty clothes are the main targets for being raped, as I heard her say this it frustrated me that people hold ignorant perspectives. No women asks to be rape. Although I think this is a great protests to bring awareness to the issue, the name should be changed because even though it does cause a shocking, dramatic appeal, many people might get offended or misunderstand it’s message.

  13. Brandy S. says:

    Women need better strategies to show empowerment. I think the SlutWalk is a bold strategy to address the dehumanizing connotations created for women only. When I think about it, men do not have many degrading names. Women can be referred to as bitches, hoes, sluts, whores, the list goes on. However when we think of the dehumanizing name for men, the only thing that comes to mind is bastard. It is unfortunate but I do think that men tend to think they have the right to women. Women are not the man’s right, we are their privileges. My father was a rape detective for years and there was a foundation that he supported where it emphasized that “a woman’c clothing will never be valid reasoning as to why a person felt compelled to rape them. This non profit was similar to the slutwalk. It is saddening that society categorizes a group of women sticking together as “feminist”. Why is it hard for women to stick together just like men do all the time.

  14. Simara Williams says:

    Slutwalk is a great name for a march because people are drawn to the name because of the word SLUT. It grabs your attention and you want to know what it’s all about. At least this word actually is trying to prevent violence to women. Unlike some advertisements we’ve seen that actually portray women as “sluts” and degrade them. Reclaiming the term slut or bitch almost seems impossible at this day and age. The term slut and its bad connotation have been used on women by men and women. Both sexes are to blame for keeping this term alive. Also, the word bitch I have often heard girls say “hey bitch” and the other one responds with a “hey bitch” too and the conversation carries as if nothing had happened. The kicker is that some women actually think it’s cool to call another bitches. How and what makes it cool to be called a bitch by another woman? It’s offensive and a setback.

  15. Melissa Avitia says:

    Many times walking around in short skirts might give the wrong impression to others. People judge at all times including myself and is sad to know that is being done daily by people without taking the time to know the person first.Seen a female with short bottom clothing might give the message to others they want something,something sexually and they’re response maybe “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 its as if they are so desperate at all time,however this is not all men. There are men who are respectful. 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 lose it, then I can regard them as selfish and only thinking about what they want and not how they can hurt others. Even though the slut walk drew attention of the society, it has not stopped raping of women in our society today, so sad and upsetting that is!!!!

  16. Melody S. says:

    When a woman who is raped is blamed because of the way she is dressed I have to question our society’s corrupted outlooks. Shouldn’t the real area of concern be why can’t men control themselves and engage in a little something called will power? I think this offensive to men in general because I am confidant that there are many respectful men who have been labeled as having no control and accepted as a norm in that the woman is blamed for not considering this before she dressed herself. I think it is a good step to helping women heal the shattered image of themselves and helping them to lift the blame off themselves for sexual abuse and rape. It is a good step but there needs to be stronger movements to help empower women to fight back against sexual harassment and to fight against double victimization.

  17. Richard Escobar says:

    I do agree that the word “Slut” in SlutWalks title does draw attention to this event. However, I think that it sends the wrong message to those people whose attention has been drawn. Once they hear the word “SlutWalk”, they might be quick to judge and not bother to find out what the true intentions of this event are. “Slut” is word that probably shouldn’t be bothered to reclaim. Even if it were reclaimed, some other word would end up taking it’s place.
    That being said, I think SlutWalk is an excellent idea. Many of the women I know love to dress “slutty”. Whenever they wear more revealing clothing, they even call the clothing they were slutty. However, I know these women quite well, and they are nowhere near being what our society deems as slutty. What one wears is just one aspect of the whole being, and people are too quick to make incorrect judgements based on this sole aspect. Hopefully, SlutWalk will help people understand that what a women wear does not define her, nor give them any sort of “signal”.

  18. Neda D. says:

    I think it is valid for people to question the legitimacy and potential feminist influence of SlutWalk, particularly because of the term “slut”. Seeing as this word has such a negative connotation in our society, it wouldn’t be surprising if people came down on the movement as offensive and crude. However, I think that if one were to focus on the essential point of the movement and the fact that it is an attempt to eradicate sexual assault by using words and images that catch people’s attention, one would realize that this is an important thing that needs to be done. So far, it has been quite difficult to call attention to this problem, so the creators of the campaign resorted to speech that did not necessarily connotate positivity. But the truth is that SlutWalk drew in people’s attention. It caused great commotion and plenty of discussion. And wasn’t that the point? To bring awareness to an issue not frequently addressed and to stop sexual assault altogether? I support SlutWalk, in both name and purpose.

  19. Stephanie Farzam says:

    My “aha moment” was when I noticed that I was one of the worst perpetrators when it came to slut shaming. I was the first to make the judgement that some girl was a slut simply because she wore a short skirt or tight busted tops. That was until I really read this piece. The connotation of the word slut previously had never held as much meaning as it did now. At the same time, to me, a slut was someone who was weak enough to have to give herself out for the acceptance of a man. Someone who doesn’t have enough worth for herself so she dresses like a prostitute in order for guys to notice her. I now understand that no matter what the situation, there is no reason for someone to degrade another woman, especially with a word so loaded that has so much negative baggage attached to it. 1. No one deserves that type of treatment 2. It should NEVER be used as an argument when it comes to girls “asking” for rape or to be taken advantage of like a piece of meat.

  20. yessica pastor says:

    9. The word slut is attention grabbing. The choice of putting slut in slutwalk is very attention grabbing and controversial. It can be a negative or positive thing. People might be drawn to find out more or won’t even bother to find out. Yet, I believe that the idea and concept of slutwalk is great. When I heard of about what the Canadian police officer had said I felt guilty. I was the first to judge a girl based on what she was wearing. Now I have realized that women should be free to wear what she wants to wear without being scared of being assaulted. Double victimization is horrible. Women have to deal with being abused by their abuser and then being abused by the authority. My brother constantly calls women sluts/whores because of their outfits. It is infuriating because nobody calls him out about it. The slutwalk organization may not be perfect but it is of the few that is bringing public attention to this issue which in my eyes is great.

  21. Sarah Vincent says:

    Before I knew what the Slutwalk was I thought it was something, bad but once I read more about it I was totally for it. I know that these women are not sluts not even close to them, because I believe men only call women that when they don’t get what they want or try to blame things on the women. I believe the Slutwalk is great it is showing that the women are not sluts and don’t asked to be raped by these so called men. I have seen several pictures of some of the women of the slutwalk and the clothes they were wearing when they got raped and by no means what they were wearing was not slutty. Why can’t girls wear what they want to wear? Guys sure do!

  22. Pimp, player, man – these terms associated with men usually uphold their masculinity and worth. For women on the other hand, slut, whore, skank all dimish her value. These negative connotations have always been associated with women. This is due to patriarchy’s double standard. In today’s society, every women is a slut if she’s lost her virginity before marriage. When women go about to accomplish a task, such as these protests to raise awareness of sexual abuse, rape, etc, they are labeled negatively as the example listed in this article – slut walk. Doing this limits the chance of other women joining the protest as well has labeling these women as sluts for speaking out their mind to the injustices of patriarchy.

  23. Dylan B says:

    The cause is great, but I do think that the use of the name “SlutWalk” could be better chosen, because to me, that just continues the usage of those degrading and hurtful words. Although I feel that way, that would not keep me from participating in something such as the SlutWalk and I think that the cause is one that needs to be more known and widespread. This reminds me of a sticker that I have on my computer reading “BOOBIES” and under it in smaller font “art. education. awareness. action. KEEP A BREAST.” This is an ad for breast cancer and although not exactly the same scenario as the one in this blog post, my very conservative Aunt saw the sticker on my laptop while we were in Rome and got somewhat offended at first because of the lax usage of the word “boobies”. To me, this is similar, because although the creator of this is using the word “boobies” to get people’s attention (our society always turning their heads for anything sexual), the cause it what matters in the long run.

  24. Yanira S says:

    i like that idea where Pozner says we do not provoke sexual assault with our drinking and dressing i agree with that. There’s been times where i go out all dressed up and drunk. Guys think i m doing it for them or i want something, but i m like im doing this because i want to have a good time and enjoy my time and that’s sexual harassment when they don’t leave you alone. I like the idea that slutwalk are fighting for their right to dress whatever we want and be ourselves and not be sexual assault or harassed for the way we dress. But they are making a point with the word slut it gets attention and it also points out the crimes we go through as being a female in this society also against sexual assault. We should be free to dress however we want and not be harassed or rape to be free as a woman and how slut is being used in a male society.

  25. Despite “slut” being such a loaded term on many different levels; the amount of press this event generated brings light to many critically important womens issues. Issues that may otherwise not get recognition easily. This event generated an awakening all over the globe. I think the awareness this event triggered should remain the focus.

  26. Christopher T says:

    This is a great way to try and turn the tables on the word. I realize that when my friends call me a slut it is used in a positive way like go get em’. since i am a male i don’t take offense to it. But the same word can be used to decribe this girl and she is put to shame. I was really suprise to hear a police officer to say that to a victim, like a woman can not get dressed up with out being raped. If thats the case men shouldn’t have their shirts off or wear tank tops that shows their arms because its sexual. I love the idea of this walk and the name of it which will give people a chance to notice it. I also like the idea that it not fully focus on changing the meaning of the word but trying to use it in a way to stop violence against women.

  27. Richard L says:

    The use of the word “Slut” in SlutWalk doesn’t further degrade the women participating in the event as someone said above, but i believe it is more of a way to get attention towards the main point of the event. It’s pretty sad when one begins to think about the double standards that are present between women and men. Being a male and being seen as a pimp or player will allow you to gain praise from your peers, but when a woman is seen as a slut or whore, not a single person wants to associate with you. This walk is a perfect way to garner attention from not only men, but other women who are belittled by the word “Slut”. Also, the final quote is a great example for the many people don’t believe in “wasting” their time in an event such as the SlutWalk because they feel it won’t make a difference. Any simple action will create a chain reaction that may one day change the world.

  28. Ashley-Marie M. says:

    The word slut in slutwalk doesnt degrade women because they are not using in it a way that is malicious they are using it to make a point. i have been called a slut many times in my life for the choices that i made when i was a teenager. this walk is to show there is a double standard. being a “slut” is seen as negaitve to where no guy will take you seriously but a man who is a player gets extra points among his friends. I 100% support this walk because we need to draw attention to these issues even if if means you have to say the word slut to get noticed.

  29. Rashidah I says:

    I am all for women’s empowerment and liberation movements but I also believe sometimes it is taken too far. The word “slut” has such a negative connotation that it should not be used by women. Just as men use the word “bitch” to deeply degrade women, they also say slut. It is an emotionally abusive word that should be erased from all of our vocabularies.The word slut is not likely to ever work in the favor of women at any given point in time. If anything, we need to stand up against it just as we do “bitch” and “cunt”.

  30. Chulhyun A says:

    First of all, we should know that there is nothing good result which made by the wrong way.
    The reason why V-day is successful and beautiful movement is because the word, vagina is not a dirty word but the word for women.
    Slut, means just slut. There is no implied meaning but just Slut that only contains negative meanings for women.
    It is true that they successfully got media’s interest because the title is so provocative. So media focused on the title, but not the meaning.
    Eventually they just made something fun event that men and its media enjoyed by cutting their value themselves via using the word, Slut.
    Women’s one of the biggest enemy is low self-esteem. I am sure that if they have high self-esteem, they never use any word that cut their value lower.

  31. Jennifer H. says:

    I am pretty surprised that this is the title but i don’t see it as offensive because they are just trying to make a point. Many men don’t realize when they insult a girl by calling them “bitch,slut,whore,hoe..etc” it can stir up emotions. I personally don’t get offended because i know that it is not true but some girls can easily be hurt by being called those names. I like the point they are trying to make. Women shouldn’t always have to be watching over their shoulders. Where live its a constant thing for me. I hate the fact that i cannot wear what i want to wear because of the bad attention i will get. Men can be s disrespectful, they swear we wear shorts/dresses for them. Um hello its called summer!!! I want to be able to wear what i want without feeling like I’m an object with all these perverts staring and harassing me out in the streets.

  32. At first glance i thought that the protest was about something other than “the freedom to be sexual and the freedom from violence, harassment and rape”. Feminists have fought for many years to give women the freedom they need and i honestly don’t think that these group of feminists should have used the word slut. They could have chose any other word to represent women who are in need of help. But the name “Slut walk” is an attention grabber in this situation and nowadays many women will use the word slut loosely.

  33. Slut walk is coming up in LA in just a couple of days, this post gave me a little more insight on the two sides I catch my self pondering about while deciding if I will attend Slut Walk this year or not. I myself am a woman of color and I too can not see my mother of grandmother approving on my slut walk participation, yet simultaneously in the community I come from considering someone a slut would probably justify raping them so the purpose of having a slut walk makes sense to me. I am still standing in between on the issue but I am glad I got a more clearer view of both sides thanks to this post.

  34. I remember hearing about the SlutWalk, and I had mixed feelings. Your article points out a lot of issues I felt towards the idea of it, and I like that you point out both sides of the argument. I have always been uneasy about the idea of “reclaiming” a word. It seems to bring the media’s attention, and that’s about it. Do we need to name walks really outrageous names to get the attention and get people to come out an attend? Maybe. It just seems to almost be going against the point they are trying to make. I don’t ever see the word “slut” being okay. And I see why they wanted to do this walk after that police officer said what he said. Just don’t know if I agree.

  35. While learning about the history of the Woman’s Rights Movements and Feminism, you also learn that there were many disagreements between different groups of feminists because they had different beliefs or different tactics in fighting for their rights. But we remember how the NWP and NAWSA argued with one another, weakening the movement, instead of supporting one another while holding their different views.

    Looking back on history if both groups worked together, regardless of their different views, suffrage might of not taken as long to obtain. So we remember and learn from this history, realizing that women must work together, become a strong community, find communion and love with one another in order to strengthen our power, and with that power create change. This sense of support for one another is also important since patriarchy plots us against one another.

    Yes, calling the demonstration the “SlutWalk” might have been politically incorrect, and may have drawn a different kind of attention that some feminists wouldn’t appreciate, but the actual cause of it is important. The actual cause of it is much more important than getting hung up on the name of the walk. In other words, it was much more important to support our sisters, support our community that is trying to create a substantial change then get hung up on whether the name of the event was politically correct or not. That support is of utmost importance.

  36. I could agree with your instinct to not attend the LA’s Slut Walk, because now more than ever, we have been saturated with sex images on ads, music, and of course television. Thereby mentioning this word to describe a movement in which women are involved seems ironic. Because, we as feminist try to combat the idea to not be seen as sexual objects, therefore we don’t like to use this term to describe us. But once you do your research, you then realize that it’s only use to grab attention. And once the attention is grabbed then we can really focus on what it is, and the message that is trying to get delivered. I think the idea behind all this is great, and I don’t completely agree with the name at first but I do understand as to why they chose it. I feel like most men feel like they are entitled to stare and say comments about a girls body, and I don’t they realize that life is not a music video. Most women I know don’t like a man to be undressing them with their eyes.

    I remember one day, one of my guy friends posted something on Facebook about feeling down and others putting him down and I commented telling him to stay motivated, and to believe in yourself and essentially love yourself. I then, received a harsh comment from another guy WHO I HAVE NEVER SEEN OR SPOKEN TO saying, that he has seen my Facebook photos and I’m not even good looking and said I am as dumb as Kim Kardashian.
    Thanks to my own security and my Women Studies Class I was able to respond to him. I even saved it on my phone as a reminder to myself, that no matter what people say I am beautiful. My comment to him:
    “If you took the time to go and look at my pictures and to criticize my appearance then that seems pretty shallow. My appearance makes 1% of me. What counts is my heart and brain. I think I am beautiful, you don’t have to like me. I really don’t care because I don’t know you.I am aware that not everybody is going to think that I am pretty, or funny, or cool, and I’m totally cool with that. I am happy with who I am, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else”

  37. I have many friends are full supporters of SlutWalk, for myself, I know my mother as a woman who has deep Mexican roots would be ashamed at me for figuratively calling myself a slut. I think in the end, it depends on if you’re ready to change the word ‘slut’ in our society, or try to send the message of anti victim shaming. I personally think that word is done for, it has too many negative connotations and it’s a word deeply ingrained into our society as bad. I do believe, however, that the walk itself is a great and motiviational concept that could help spread anti-violence and rape culture awareness. SlutWalk in the end, is a movement that is creating action and motivation with young feminists to get involved and although older feminists may see it as possibly detrmental, it is really ally for creating an atmosphere for change.

  38. CourtyanaF says:

    The term “slut” is one of the most disrespectful and degrading words created. Although the word is extremely hurtful, it is thrown around and considered “normal”. In my opinion, our society has started to treat it as the word “bitch”. many of us are ignoring how horrible it is and accepting it. The “SlutWalk” movement seems to be a great way to aware of the dehumanizing connotations created for women only. It is blunt and out there. “no holding back!” It’s meant to grasp attention and thats exactly what its doing. Some conservative people might disagree with the name and misinterpret the purpose. I 100% understand the purpose and many more people need to be informed and join the fight to stop the term.

  39. I think the use of the word “slut” in SlutWalk is intended to be wake up call for those who, like the Canadian police officer, believe that if women didn’t dress like sluts, they wouldn’t be raped. But I also believe that there are some negative consequences to using the term slut. Some will believe that using the word slut is okay because women are using it as well, similar to the way people justify the use of racial slurs. Also, there are negative connotations to the word, specifically promiscuity, but that is simply due to the patriarchal society we live in. The system has defined slut to be bad, that promiscuous women are bad, that women are to maintain the emphasized feminine quality of being sexy but not sexual. By embracing the word slut, and making it mean what they wanted it to mean, the founders are essentially removing its negative connotation as well. There is no reason for any man or woman to believe that they way a woman dresses should be a call for non-consensual sex. Like one demonstrator has above “short skirt =/= consent,” which is precisely the point of SlutWalk. It is not to degrade women any more than they already have been, but to empower them with a word that is so often used against them in a negative way.

  40. I agree with you and I stand in solidarity with SlutWalk. I see this as something that calls national attention to women who are blamed for being abused. As we talked about in class, no matter what kind of abuse women go through, it seems that women are to blame. And why is that? When women are in an abusive relationship, it is their fault. They must have done something wrong in the relationship. When women are raped, it is there fault. They were wearing something provocative, so they were asking for it. These are ridiculous claims. It is putting blame on innocent victims. Looking at the SlutWalk specifically, it is unfortunate that even officials such as the Canadian Police is giving in to these sort of accusations. They should know better than anyone else what happens in these scenarios. Women are taken advantage of against their will. How at all does that become their fault? The sign in the picture that says “short skirt does not equal consent” covers it all. Provocative clothing does not mean the woman is asking to be raped. Like the professor said in class, women don’t get dressed in the morning thinking, “I look rape-able today.” It is a horrible thought. And as for the word slut being used, I think it is okay. I don’t think that this word should be used by other girls about themselves because it is too deep in bad connotations, same as whore and cunt. However, the use for this walk was to bring light to the “slut” comment by the cops. And it did the job. It called national attention to the problem while explaining what they were fighting against. These walks were a great idea, and I think more of these activist ideas should continue to rock the country.

  41. At first when I heard slut walk I thought it was to reclaim the word slut also, but finding out that is actually about raising awareness for sexual assault is great. Its a cause that needs to have more awareness and every woman in her lifetime will know or know someone that has experienced sexual assault. Thats how big of a problem it is and also raising awareness to slut shaming or victim blaming because you never hear about it. Being someone that has experienced slut shaming, and its the worst feeling in the world and is so wrong and cruel to do to someone. My clothes and outfit choices don’t speak the words yes and no and either does someones job title even if it is of the kind that includes a pole. Even if the name is controversial everyone should support this cause because a little bit goes a long way and sexual assault in any form needs to be talked about.

  42. StephanieR. says:

    I had heard of slutwalk through another blog, so I had an idea on what it was about. I knew it was a protest against violence towards women and I thought the term ‘slutwalk’ was just a play on misogynistic and derogatory terms used to sometimes describe women. However, I did not know about the origins and now the term ‘slutwalk’ makes a lot more sense. To say that it is the victims fault for getting assaulted or raped because she was dressed like a ‘slut’ is ignorant. Then again, the people saying this are the ones that think women are a right, should be available to them at all times, and are there for their pleasure only.

  43. Carolyne A says:

    Every time I leave the house, my father checks my clothing to see if I am wearing “provoking clothing. Provoking to what? Rapists. My father thinks that by wearing skinny jeans I am making a statement to all rapists that I am willing to be raped and I want him to admire my non-existant curves. That is the problem with society today, blaming the victim has gone too far. How can one claim that a woman is ASKING to be raped? It is called rape because she is being raped… forced to engage in something AGAINST her will. This is why events like the slut walk are so important, it brings the issue into peoples eye that women should be able to dress how they chose to without the possibility of being raped for it. The problem is obviously not the women, it is the rapist, and it is time for society to see this and act on it.

  44. Viewing this article the word “slutwalk” through me off it doesn’t sound like what it stand for. The real cause behind the event is actually great. I believe we should raise awareness for sexual assault because many people are assaulted daily by people who don’t even recognize they are sexually assaulting someone. Many victims may not even recognize they are being assaulting when they really are. This all ties back to the term masculinity and people thinking its okay for men to flirty, and very aggressive which is a known problem. When sexual assault is allowed it can easily lead to rape , and rape is not okay in no form or way. I believe people need to become more aware of themselves and actions.

  45. Shannon He says:

    I am constantly told by my parents to “never walk alone in the streets at night”, to “always wear a jacket to cover up”, and to “always be aware of my surroundings”. Although they want the best for me, my parents are extremely overprotective over my outfits, always making sure my skirt is not too short and that I am wearing a jacket. The problem that I have is that the society is constantly blaming women for being victims of rape. As if I am asking to be raped by wearing a skirt that I really like! The slut walk is extremely important as a voice for all the women, like myself. Finally, people will realize how women should not have to be afraid of walking in the streets alone at night, or be aware of their outfit choices. Rapists must be blamed and punished rather than the women.

  46. Being the fourth child, my father has always been overprotected of what I wear. However, my mother not so much. Whenever I go out to a party or a function I am always told to take a jacket with me or pull my dress down. I understand my dresses may be a little short, but I’d rather get the criticism from my mother. Unfortunately, in our society many females are victims of rape. All parents are doing is to try to protect their children. I understand the clothes girls wear can be provocative at times, but all we are doing is trying to look cute. I’m not saying you have to dress like a slut to look cute. The slut walk is important for woman to have their voice be heard. We females should not be afraid to be alone at night fearing we are at risk of being raped. I do agree that provocative clothing can promote rape. I feel we need to work as a community to prosecute rapists.

  47. Jasmin H says:

    In the beginning of reading this article I was kind of wondering why the protest was called “slut walk” but after reading it I took a moment understood why they called it that name. They called it slut walk because it’s to raise awareness for blaming victims in rape situations. Women should not blame themselves just because they wore an outfit that was too revealing or they were out late. We as women have freedom to do whatever men can do as well. Just because it might be unclassy does not give the excuse to men to rape them or even calling them names like hoe, whore, or slut. (Especially when men call every woman that and generalize that about a woman.) We women have different values and morals and are all individuals and out own person. No one should ever get raped or be a victim of it, and the excuse of raping should be “she as asking for it by the way she was dressing. People should support the victims instead of blaming them.

  48. Presley B says:

    I think that the use of the word “slut” is appropriate. Words hold power, and personally I believe that the word “slut” needs to be reclaimed. When a girl is called a “slut”, either for her sexual history or clothing choice, the patriarchy makes it seem “okay” to molest/abuse/rape her. Slutwalk is important because it demonstrates that women can dress however they want/ have sex as often and with as many partners as they want, and not hold any bit of responsibility for being raped. Growing up, I was warned not to “dress like a slut”, or “act like a slut” because if something happened, it would be entirely my fault. Movements like Slutwalk will hopefully teach the world that victim blaming, especially in cases of rape, is not only wrong but is potentially dangerous. If we devalue words such as “slut”, “cunt” and “bitch”, we will effectively be taking one step closer to a world that does not blame and demean women.

  49. Kayla K says:

    aving already known about slut-walk, I was a big supporter. However, I never took time to think of how demeaning the word slut was. The term “slut” chains women, it prevents them form expressing themselves freely and openly through their sexuality or their clothing. Despite this realization, I still think slut-walk is a positive form of activism and brings awareness to victim-blaming and rape culture. Women should not be chastised for wearing certain clothes, being drunk, going out late, etc. Our society needs to learn that clothing is not consent. What I believe slut-walk tries to do is to say that being, what society defines as, a “slut” does not give excuse for rape. Although I don’t see it reclaiming the word, I do recognize that slut-walk uses the word to point to the harsh reality of rape culture. Society as a whole constantly blames the victim of rape, as women should not being doing this or should be doing that. This culture forbids women from true freedom. Women are not only denied the freedom of clothing, but freedom from fear and blame. I am in full support of slut-walk, and what I believe it hopes to achieve, although I do recognize it is not perfect.

  50. Bryan K says:

    In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with using the word ‘slut’. Women and girls are generally called ‘slut’ when they dress sexy and expose a lot of skin. Therefore, the Slutwalk movement is vital to make it clear that a woman is not a slut if she is dressed a certain way. In other words, women should have the freedom of dressing the way they like. Furthermore, women should not be blamed if they are raped. People should not say that if she had dressed more conservatively she would not have been raped. In addition, women face double victimization, which refers to the scrutiny and stigma toward the victim by the criminal justice system as the wider culture when examining the woman’s assault, rape, or abuse. Consequently, rape, abuse, and assault against women are under reported.

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