Monday, May 16, 2011

The SlutWalk Protest

I read this interesting article in The Independent last Tuesday. It is interesting because women are going to march and protest about how (some) men view women as sluts and because they are sluts, they deserve to be raped. This opinion is stupid because it takes the blame off the rapist and puts it squarely on the victim. Anyway, thousands of “provocatively”-dressed women are expected to march through London next month when the growing "SlutWalk" phenomenon reaches British shores.

This movemnent was sparked by the appalling remarks made by Canadian police officer Michael Sanguinetti who suggested that women should "avoid dressing like sluts" if they wanted to avoid being raped. He was addressing a group of Osgoode Hall Law School students at York University at a safety forum in January. Although, he later apologized, but his comments were publicized widely on Facebook and Twitter. (In fact, I too remembered that a Malaysian police officer said much the same thing to HICT students and staff at a safety forum last year – except that in Klang, women merely griped and grumbled but in Toronto, they decided to do something about it!)

Really, the issue is not about skimpy dressing, but about what is right and wrong. Rape is rape. Rape is wrong. There can never be a justification for rape, no matter how much some guy may think she’s “asking for it”.

Thousands have taken part in such marches in Canada and the US and on SlutWalk London's Facebook page, 3,500 people have already said they will take part in the march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square on June 04. Previous protests in North America have seen many women marching in lingerie.

“Some people will choose to dress like that," said Anastasia Richardson, the organizer of the London SlutWalk. "But people can come in whatever makes them feel comfortable. Anyone can get called a slut, no matter how they are dressed, no matter how they are acting. It doesn't have any real meaning. It is just used to victimize and demean them." Besides, nobody likes being told what to do.

Of course there are those – besides Michael Sanguinetti – who insist that the way women dress invite trouble. Christian pop singer Rebecca St. James says women “are asking for sex if they’re dressing immodestly” (Webpage, posted May 10, 2011). There are also others who claim that if women dress in a provocative fashion (usually, this means dressing skimpily), it is more the case of women objectifying themselves. Or about them flaunting their sexuality.

My take on this is simple. Why on earth is it any of my business whether a woman wants to wear skimpy clothing or not. I don’t care. But we must also remind ourselves that we live in a big, bad world. Evil lurks everywhere. Sure, you have a right to be whatever you want to be – including being a slut – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always a good idea.

The SlutWalk London website says it wants to end a culture of fear and victimization. "Let's raise our voices and tell the world that rape is never, ever OK," it proclaims. "Not if she was wearing a miniskirt. Not if she was naked. Not if she was your wife, girlfriend or friend. Not if she was a prostitute. Not if she was drunk. Not if you thought she wanted to."

The website adds: "All over the world, women are constantly made to feel like victims, told they should not look a certain way, should not go out at night, should not go into certain areas, should not get drunk, should not wear high heels or make-up, should not be alone with someone they don't know.

"Not only does this divert attention away from the real cause of the crime – the perpetrator – but it creates a culture where rape is OK, where it's allowed to happen."

I say it again. Nobody deserves to be raped. Ever.

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