my last post
sparked a bit of discussion on the facebooks, (which i love, by the
way), and even though i felt like i addressed concerns people brought up
in various wall discussions sufficiently, i thought it might be best if
i just address some of them here, and explain more thoroughly why i
myself am super fucking excited about the mpls slutwalk. so here goes.
i grew up in a cool family of comic nerds. while all three of
us enjoyed comics, my brother and i both shared a deep love of archie
comics. shit is ridiculous, but we enjoyed the zany, implausible
adventures of archie and the gang. it was some great escapism. i
am not going to say that there isn’t sexist material in archies, there
is, especially ones from the 1940s and 1950s, but allow me to point out
something very special about the world of riverdale.
the popularity of archie comics coincided with, and probably
reinforced, the rise of the american teenager as an identity category,
which was mostly based around their growing importance as a consumer
group. so not surprisingly, there is a shit ton of shopping that
happens in archie comics, particularly with uber-wealthy veronica lodge
and her all-american bff/frenemy betty cooper. i loved betty
and veronica, especially betty, because unlike veronica, she was a
decent person and she’s an underdog (relatively speaking at least). i
even read the advice column that “they” wrote for those who would now be
called tweens, yet another identity category formed around an age
group with a heartbeat and a disposable income.
betty and veronica were both extremely fashionable, and, above all
else, their style instilled in me an undying penchant for
miniskirts. in middle school, i would buy them at express, back
when that store was just for the ladies and all the fellows had to go to
structure. after they made it home with me, i would never wear them,
except for in my room dancing with myself.
when i’ve talked before
about wrestling with mainstream concepts of femininity during
adolescence, i did not mention that a fear of slut shaming was one of
the reasons why i attempted to make a fashion statement of men’s
polyester pants. after all, what slut wears men’s polyester
pants? me, it turns out. as i said, they were also
surprisingly comfortable. whatever my love of miniskirts, it was
not to be as a legitimate wardrobe choice for me until very recently.
if i had ever tried to wear miniskirts to middle or high school, i am
sure it would have gone badly. i was a bit of a liberal outsider,
and still had some big time teenage awkwardness going on, so it really
wasn’t worth the risk to me at the time. i can’t say for sure that
i would have been called a slut, seeing as i never took that risk, but
let’s just say that, based on the general lack of compassion and
intelligence i found in the student population, i had a feeling it would
just kind of be like that.
is a fantasy world where girls don’t get called sluts, they don’t get
raped, and, for some reason, they think a goofy redhead with a brokeass
jalopy is super dreamy. they get to be happy, life-embracing
girls, wear miniskirts if they want to, and rotate between spending time
with archie, reggie, and other guys who usually don’t make it to
i truly believe that if i could step into riverdale and tell betty
and veronica about our real world, where girls get called sluts, they
get raped, and then get blamed for it because they were wearing a
miniskirt or are dating more than one guy, that they would be outraged
and would step out of riverdale and into minneapolis with me to walk in
the slutwalk. how could anyone, cartoon or not, deny the blood boiling
as a lady who wants to look good for herself, i personally am tired
of having this fear as a backdrop in my day to day life. i want to
walk around minneapolis looking however i want, just like it was
riverdale, and never have to fear that my sweet outfit is going to be
used as someone’s justification for sexually assaulting me.
in my discussions with people online, and in a number of blogs i’ve
seen out there, it seems there are many people who, in spite of being
supportive of the concepts behind slutwalk and what it is trying to
accomplish, are not down with the name slutwalk. while i am
certainly not going to tell anyone that they aren’t entitled to feel
that way, i would say to them that until we address “slut,” and other
words that are used by victim blamers, like “hussy,” “tramp,” “floozy,”
“harlot,” “trollop,” or “strumpet,” (some of these are a little dated,
but still), we are not going to make serious progress in changing rape
culture or people’s consciousness.
the very fact that people are so uncomfortable with having slut in
the title of the event is proof positive to me that we need to come
together and address the fear that we have of this word and really talk
it out. ignoring the word is not going to strip it of the power
that it has in our society.
i have also noticed that there are a number of people who object to
the event because they don’t identify as a slut, so they feel like the
walk isn’t for them. i say to them even if you never, ever want to
identify as a slut, wouldn’t you still want to live in a world where it
doesn’t have the power to cut people down and rationalize the sexual
assault they survived? and, just sayin’, not identifying as a slut will
not protect you from being raped. that’s the old lie the toronto
police force was pushing, which is why this super important, awesome
movement got started to begin with. straw, camel’s back, broken.
tiptoeing around slut is not going to result in substantial progress
for our collective human rights to safety and peace of mind.
words are powerful, and their reappropriation does not happen
overnight. it takes time. just think about how long it took
to make strides in reappropriating queer. but the momentum that this,
now worldwide, movement has is going to have a big impact in getting
this long overdue discussion started for real.
i know that people who are not involved in the sex
positive/glbtqietc./queer/feminist communities might not feel like this
is an event that they would fit into, but i truly believe that the more
people that this event has, and the more diverse the group is, the
better the progress will be. attending the event does not mean
that you have to identify as a slut. you can spend your time
talking to other people about why the word makes you hurt, confused,
upset, angry, whatever. come and let it out. get pissed with other
people who are fed up with a culture that encourages sexual violence.
get happy knowing there are other awesome people who have the social
awareness and drive to make this world safer and better for all of
us. get dressed up however makes you feel comfortable and let’s
all dance together. just come. betty and veronica would want