Stepping out against rape

I plan on attending the London Slutwalk on 4th 11th June.

In light of this here article from The Telegraph, I feel I ought to clarify something: I am not planning on walking because I think I am a slut. I plan on walking because I think it’s important to recognise that women and men do not ‘deserve’ to be raped on account of what they are wearing, or how they behave.

I don’t think there is any circumstance under which somebody ‘deserves’ to be raped or has encouraged a rapist. I understand the argument that if I want to avoid being mugged I don’t walk down a notorious alleyway at night, or if I don’t want to crash my car I reduce my chances by not drinking. And so I think that we should be cautious. But I don’t think that my wearing a short skirt makes me a more likely rape victim. Rape is about power, not sexual attraction, and by reducing its occurence to a question of female sexuality and dress sense versus male overriding lust, I think we’ve missed the point. No-one deserves to be raped on account of what they say, what they wear or what they do. So I’ll be sure not to walk down strange alleyways and be aware, but I’ll wear whatever I like while I do it.

I’m under no illusion that the Slutwalk will stop rape, for the very reasons I’ve just stated. It’s about power, and therefore there will always be someone who wants to assert his authority over a woman – I just have a hard time believing it’s solely due to the neckline of her dress. But what I would like to think is that more people will have an opinion (and hopefully one I agree with!) on the issue of rape and dress. It’s important that women feel confident, and not ashamed or that they ought to keep hidden, which is what this ‘cover up or get raped’ advice seems to be suggesting. As one of the commenters on this article said, confident women are less vulnerable in this way and if the Slutwalk bolsters confidence, then why the hell not?

As well as this, I’ll be thinking about all the other reasons one might be raped – including those detailed in this particularly well-written and thoughtful post at The Anti-Room. Correctional rape is something which is always based on a person’s freedom to be who they want and express themselves as they see fit. It’s frightening that we live in a world where someone might be raped to ‘cure’ them of homosexuality, or to humilate on account of their homosexuality. And it’s disgusting. I think the Slutwalk is related to this kind of abuse, in the way that we would no longer tell a gay woman to just keep quiet about her sexuality so that no-one tries to ‘fix’ her we shouldn’t be telling other people not to dress provocatively to avoid being raped.

Wondering now what others opinions are on this matter? Is the Slutwalk a step forward or a step back?

MASSIVE EDIT: In adding the link to the Slutwalk London, I have noticed that the date has changed – it is now 11th June! This sucks, for me, as I am unable to get into London that weekend. Rubbish. But I would love to know how it goes! So if anyone reading wants to go, let me know!

4 thoughts on “Stepping out against rape

  1. I think the naming of the event (Slutwalk) is interesting. From a moral point of view the name has at the very least derogative connatations towards women and won’t encourage the deserve-to-get-raped camp to take the march seriously (though i doubt they would whatever the naming).
    However from a practical point of view its provocative title will ensure people hear about, and hopefully help further, a serious and worthwhile cause .
    I’ve heard lots of people objecting to the name of the march but I think that could be one of its greatest strengths. Call it something else and you would not have had the same level of interest and debate that helps bring causes like this into the public eye. And ultimately it is the support of the public that this movement needs not the morons preaching ‘you deserve it’.

    • Well, it’s nothing if not memorable!
      I do think it’s kind of a shame though that the question of those attending a march becomes whether or not they’re sluts over what they’re marching for. I think the whole thing needs to be looked at in a broader sense, but given the amount of discussion I’m sure the message will get through. And I like that it’s happened in the first place. The guy who made the comments abour women not dressing like sluts seems to be surprised he has started a ‘feminist revolution’.

      (No, you’re right, I’m not used to you being this serious :P)

  2. I really wanted to do this (especially avec tu, lovely Kim) but 11th sucks for me too! I think Slutwalk is a good and gumptious thing on the whole.

    Are men allowed to join in, I wonder? In their Calvin Kleins??

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