It seems that squeezing my eyes shut and mumbling; “la la la la” is not going to make the “slut walk” go away. The fact that it has spanned two continents (already) means it can no longer be ignored. For those of you in the enviable position of knowing not of which I speak, do let me elaborate. Under the guise of feminism, women are organizing walks to protest the sexualization of women. They engage in these demonstrations while dressed as scantily as weather, the law, and their own wavering sense of decency allows. They have christened these protests: Slut Walks. The organizers claim they are “reclaiming” the word. (To the ghost of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; “I’m really sorry you have to read this.”)
For fun, let’s dissect the obvious, feminists never owned the word slut. In fact, no woman, feminist or not, ever owned the word slut. The word was created and flung by men who resented any display of female sexual power or choice. I have no problem with the word per se, in fact I think far too much is made of political correctness of language (which in essence is putting an artifice on top of an artifice.) I suspect this “reclaiming” claim is to give political resonance to an action that is difficult to explain.
Sexual (or any) violence against anyone is never excusable. The walkers are attempting to point out that there is no such thing as “asking for it” which of course is accurate. I support any attention to violence (sexual or otherwise) but I’m not comfortable with the intentional linkage of a woman’s appearance and her risk of victimization.
Unless you live in a very religious community, you’ve probably noticed (ahem) a certain shift in fashion, over the last ten years or so. We’ve all bemoaned (and by “we” I mean Bill Cosby) the wearing of a gentleman’s trousers far below his gentles. I’ve yet to hear anyone posit that men are more subjected to violence (sexual or otherwise) by virtue of the fact that they dress like an idiot. But what of the women? This summer I have seen frontal, backal, gentles, everything a woman has to offer on the streets of the city. In the workplace I have seen shirts cut so low they could only be called pasties. I have been seated across from women and could discern what style of waxing she preferred. Oh, if only I were exaggerating. Let’s face it, private parts are no longer private.
I will never be convinced that dressing uber-scantily has anything to do with sexual empowerment. I also don’t believe that teenager girls servicing teenage boys has anything to do with sexual empowerment. I do believe that we are experiencing a crushing backlash to the second wave (1970s) wave of feminism. One need only listen to lyrics, or tune into one more sitcom in which the sloppy overweight unattractive doltish man is married to a gorgeous pin-up, to get the message. It’s no coincidence that women are sexualized and marginalized in pop culture while making earth (and glass ceiling) shattering progress in the real world. Being a man is not the greatest guarantee of lifelong success and dominance, it was once. Is it any wonder that television is bubbling over with 1950-1960s shows (The Hour, PanAm, Mad Men, Playboy?) We could package them all in a dvd boxed set named; “remember how great it was to be a man?”
So while I applaud the notion of women coming together to march for political awareness and cause, I don’t think this is a well thought out endeavor. Has violence towards women spiked? I don’t know. But I do know it only adds to the objectification of women to even suggest that her appearance has anything to do with potential victimization. I would be thrilled at the opportunity of dusting off my protest shoes, but will not do so if that is all I’m wearing. The current phenomenon of dressing sexually is too distressing to take lightly. It is irresponsible and unseemly to equate the phenomenon to victimization, and violence is abhorrent and should never even remotely be suggested to be incited by the victim.