September 26, 2011

Support SlutWalk Minneapolis! {featured news}

SlutWalk was launched after a police officer in Toronto earlier this year advised students they dress less like “sluts” to avoid sexual assault. Within months it became a global phenomenon uniting women who had enough of being told that they are the ones to blame—of being taught to police themselves instead of men being taught not to rape—of being labeled sluts as if this label justifies their mistreatment. SlutWalk has now come to Minneapolis with events this week leading up to Saturday's SlutWalk Minneapolis.

SlutWalk has empowered women to reclaim the slut word on their own terms, proving conservative professor Gail Dines wrong when she warned that “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." Comments the feminist magazine Ms. on SlutWalk’s “reclamation of the slut label:”
Uncannily it is this very label that fuels the movement. It seems that in the reclamation of the slut label, the word has been alchemically transformed into an elixir for change.

Few would have guessed that this little word contains so much power. It has been used against women for centuries–to denigrate working women, persecute women with libido and even burn women at the stake. It has been used to hyper-sexualize and objectify women and to turn women into repressed joyless vessels and sexual victims. It has been a tool of control utilized to maximum effect by misogynists, witch hunters, and rapists throughout the centuries.

But now that women have seized and reclaimed this four-letter word, it has proved its potency in a short space of time, catapulting the issue of sexual abuse and rape right into a global public arena with an effectiveness never witnessed before.

Alice Walker
Supporting SlutWalk are prominent feminist women such as Germaine Greer and poet Alice Walker. Says Walker about the slut word:
I’ve always understood the word “slut” to mean a woman who freely enjoys her own sexuality in any way she wants to; undisturbed by other people’s wishes for her behavior. Sexual desire originates in her and is directed by her. In that sense it is a word well worth retaining. As a poet, I find it has a rich, raunchy, elemental, down to earth sound, that connects us to something primal, moist, and free.
Concludes Ms., “the word slut is a signifier for the resurgence of the primal sexual nature of women that has been pushed underground and controlled by a misogynistic order for centuries.” Today, “women are responding to a collective archetypal call to seize back the freedom to be themselves:”
SlutWalk is a manifestation of our collective desire to no longer be obedient. It speaks of necessary subversiveness. It also tells men that their sexual abuses of women will no longer be tolerated. It unites women in a common sisterhood and it raises our voices in a collective feminine language such that we will no longer be spoken for.
SlutWalk Minneapolis is a family friendly event; in fact people of all ages and genders are encouraged to walk: "Passing on the messages of no victim blaming and 'don't rape' to our future generations are a large part of what this Walk is all about." After my recent run-in with the members of our City's Park and Recreation Advisory Board where I was told little girls, including my three-year-old, need to cover up at the pool lest they arouse potential pedophiles, I feel the pressing need of supporting SlutWalk. As I wrote in my post about it at Quizzical mama, I told the board members their attempt at "helping" by enforcing girls to cover up, is not a good way of helping them; it's shaming them.
It's telling them from a very young age that men just can't help themselves; therefore it is her responsibility to do whatever she can to stay safe. -- This is the same line of reasoning that deduces a woman brought it upon herself if she's raped when dressed provocatively. 
Please join me in supporting SlutWalk Minneapolis. If you live in the area, consider joining the walk on Saturday (event details here; you are asked to register for planning purposes, but walking is free), and/or otherwise showing your support by giving a donation (which you can offer even if you don't live in the area), signing up as a volunteer, or simply spreading the word (more information and ideas on how you can help here).


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