A 17-Year-Old Does SlutWalk

At the crack of dawn I sneak soundlessly into my mother’s bedroom. Luckily, it rained last night, so the sky is wet and dark and soporific, so I don’t wake her. I tiptoe over to the closet, which looks like the holy arc in synagogue where they keep the Torah, and in my nervous haste I fling open both doors. What I sinfully steal is not the Five Books of Moses but a tight sequined black dress. I pull the skimpy thing over my 17-year-old hips and shoulders, zip it up with a herculean effort, and dash out the front door and to the local bus stop.

Reading this, I am sure you’ve reached the conclusion that I am on my way to a Goth party or a Satanist convention or a boy’s house or even the circus–but such is not the case. I am headed to a SlutWalk rally in New York City–a march against victim blaming. A march against the notion that a woman’s dress is somehow a “yes” to rapists. SlutWalk is a march of solidarity.

When I arrive in Union Square, the activists have already set off. So I set off at a run, following the resonant chants of “Blame the system not the victim!” and “NYPD, rape is a felony!” I run (and not without catcalls and whistles, mind you) from 14th street down to where 8th street turns into St. Marks Place. When I catch up and catch my breath, I look around me: There are women in burlesque attire, women in plain clothes, women holding signs and women dancing on poles. One woman hands me a round red “Ethical Slut” pin, which I attach to my dress. Another tells me to open my hand and when I do she pours out glitter. People with cameras are snapping shots of a girl in a leotard who holds up a sign reading “Sluts Say Yes.” Another woman’s sign declares “I’ll Be a Post-Feminist in the Post-Patriarchy.”

I am at home here, despite the fact that it’s unlikely I will locate my friends and acquaintances who are also participants. But everyone is a feminist here, and because of that I am empowered. Because of that I join the chanting: “When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!”

Aha–I spot a voluminous and curly head of hair! It is Tyler, a friend from high school, and he is walking next to a beautiful and conservatively dressed girl holding a sign reading “This Is the Outfit I Was Raped In.” I find myself chanting louder.

When we return to Union Square, we congregate to listen to activist poets and musicians in the incipient rain. There is Isidora, a friend of mine who started a feminist magazine at Columbia University entitled The Feminist Mystique. Her boyfriend is wearing a black shirt that says in pink letters “This is what a feminist looks like.” We clap as we listen to the speakers; we snuggle deeper into our sweaters. “My body is not a cocktail party,” says one poet through the microphone, and the crowd is clapping responsively.

The whole thing is a consensual love affair.

Photo of SlutWalk NYC from Flickr user david_shankbone under Creative Commons 2.0.

Comments

  1. Molly, thank you for having the courage to stand up for women’s rights when too many people are afraid, especially young people. I have become a little more vocal myself, though I am a few years older than you. I am 24. But I am glad you became enlightened. We need all the voices we can get.

  2. Rebecca Vinduska says:

    Molly,

    This is a beautifully written piece. Thanks for your bravery in marching and also in sharing!

    Rebecca

  3. I love your piece. Check out footage and photos from the Johannesburg slut walk on feministssa.com

  4. Concepcion says:

    Keep up the good work. Don’t let your voice be drowned out.

  5. No means NO ! Maybe means NO ! NOTHING means NO! Yes means YES and I HAVE THE RIGHT AT ANY POINT THEREAFTER TO SAY NO too!

    It astounds me to think that there is not a single woman in my circle of friends or family who was not been raped and/or molested, at some point in their lives by a man. I by no means am a man hater- so please do not take that statement in that context. What is profound is that as a whole, the male populous see’s themselves as the “protector” of their mothers, sisters, and loved ones. Despite that, a huge percentage of them are in fact violators, and perpetuators of rape. When asked, many rapists are against rape, but do not consider their acts to be rape! Many case studies show this is a large contributor to men’s actions towards women. One thing to consider as a “stimulant” to this behavior is pornography and the constant domination, and degradation of women IN it. Men see this as enlightened, sexual power; then as the consumers of pornography they are desensitized to this fantasy they masturbate to- and THAT furthers the idea that domination, forcefulness, degradation and manipulation make any woman truly want to have sex (even if she says NO!) because after all, that is what we are made for in the eyes of most males. It is a social norm, and a romanticized one at that, that it is ok for men to utilize pornography. It is seen as a way to get off and ultimately leads to skewed ideas about what women like, want, and mean when they say NO! Not all men are like this certainly- but there is allot that are. I commend all of you for your participation in “Slut Walk” and hope it certainly sends a message…. this was a beautifully written piece… and unfortunately the realist in me, or maybe it is the pessimist, thinks that why you are out there slaving to send this message, the majority of perps. are out degrading some woman they think is a slut and only worthy of getting F**ked despite her words or actions that clearly say NO!! or maybe, they are sitting home, masturbating to porn to further propagate their fantasy world so woman as a whole, can suffer the consequences of this fantasy. All in All, I hope law enforcement, including the FBI which just had meetings in D.C. this week to review their standards for RAPE under FEDERAL LAW and see if they are “worthy” of being updated and revised…. mark that word,,,, worthy.. like women, often ignored and seen as subservient….wonder what that will get us? I remember being called a slut and brutally teased at the age of 12- because I was pretty and got attention; I was called horrific things in school. The bullying was so bad at one point; I did not even want to go to school and would cry every morning. and p.s…I was a Virgin until I was two weeks shy of my 16th Birthday. So personally, to see the word SLUT taken back from men, and empowered by woman, has a personal sense of “POWER” to me because of its derogatory use towards me. To see its use switched gears by the fact you now use it to empower and stop RAPE? That leads to great GRATIFICATION! Anyways, keep up the good work, and pray it impacts many….

  6. What a great piece, thank you so much. The T shirts that say “this is what a feminist looks like” are Feminist Majority T shirts, which is exciting because I work at the Feminist Majority’s LA office, writing short films. You did a beautiful job of describing the event, and the reasons why events like this are so important. I’ll be looking for more of your writing!

  7. really well written. thanks for sharing your experience.

  8. Nicely done, Molly!

    You write beautifully about the causes that you pursue with passion! Proud of you.

  9. Rebecca Strum says:

    Brava Molls! You brought the event to life for me in your wonderfully personal way:full of wit and wisdom.

  10. jessica ward says:

    As one of the SLUTWALK Knoxville coordinators, I can relate to some of the slutwalk community members that joined our cause. Before our march, a 17 year old student spoke, and was one of our most powerful speakers in the group. I was very encouraging to her & also encouraged non-caucasian races to participate, different sexual orientations, and the male population to come participate. My only concern in regards to having ANYONE underage participating was this… What happens if the minor was dressed provocatively & is photographed?? How does that have legal ramifications for our group. My biggest regret about having anyone under 18 during any of our events was this: I had a 15 yr old girl who desperately wanted to model in our “slutwalk fashion show” fundraiser (to raise $ for the permit insurance & general awareness to our cause) but it was being held at a bar. I was forced to tell her she could not attend. But, I still encouraged her to join in the many age” approved locations. Subsequently, there were younger individuals present at our event. My 7 yr old son was out helping me fundraiser & even was telling people what slutwalk was about & why it was started. Some disapproved of me letting him join in, but if we don’t teach our young kids “not to rape” instead of “dont get caught”, isn’t that defeating the purpose of stalks worldwide?

Speak Your Mind

*