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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

I found this article on MS. Blogs and found it very interesting, in part because like the author, I do not like the word "slut" and i do not believe in reclaiming hurtful, violent words, I don't think they get "tamed" by making them our own. But she explains it better than I do, so read her post :-) I like it that she focuses on the positive aspects of the SlutWalk movement, and there are many positive aspects. I'd love to hear your opinions.

 

Black Feminist Reflections on a Small Town SlutWalk

October 5, 2011 by · 24 Comments 

This past Saturday, while thousands of SlutWalkers took to the streets of New York, I attended my local SlutWalk, 840 miles away in Carbondale, Ill. I went to the anti-rape march not only because I am as a survivor of gender violence, a feminist and an anti-gender violence activist, but also because I was curious about what I would encounter and whether I would feel, as many other Black feminists have, a strong sense of alienation. I arrived with my partner and our puppy, Huxtable, in tow—for support and, if I am honest with myself, an acceptable out (“So sorry, Huxtable is too young to handle the crowd”). That I felt the need for an out tells me something about my preconceived boundaries around what feminism can look like. Even more telling were the nervous questions tapdancing on my mind: How might the SlutWalk be reproducing oppression in this very moment? What does my “Dr. Griffin” presence signify to the walkers and passersby who recognize me? Goodness me, why does it have to be called a SlutWalk?

With a reminder to myself to keep an open Black feminist mind, I began to pay better attention to what was happening around me. People cruised by on wheelchairs, bikes and skates. One woman, with her SlutWalk wristband on the same wrist as her hospital band, made the journey on crutches. What I saw was a beautifully diverse representation of what feminism can look like. That diversity taught me something about the significance of the SlutWalk.

Looking around at the 400 or so in attendance, I was reminded of the strength of dominant discourse to determine what arbitrary symbols signify “sluttiness.” Among those who chose to dress to fiercely resist such stereotypes, there was a cascade of short skirts, lace tights, knee high black boots and the color red. The signs on display also bespoke defiance: the most memorable read “My Dress is not a Yes”, “I borrowed this outfit from your MOM. Do you still want to rape me?” and, taped on the side of a baby girl’s stroller, “I Deserve to Grow Up in a World without Rape”. The sign that best captured my own sentiments was the sassy yet simple “Fuck Rape” in sparkly blue glitter. The many bodies and voices refusing to be disciplined into demure silence taught me something about the significance of the SlutWalk.

Taking in the crowd on a deeper feminist level with every step I took, I also realized that many women–and men–were unafraid to bare cellulite, stretch marks and tummy fat, all of which are typically outlawed by dominant size and beauty ideals. Baring the parts of themselves most vulnerable to cruel public commentary, they sauntered and strutted with a tangible sense of body confidence that I have never allowed my own body to know. I watched in admiration. Their courage to defy social norms on the very streets they travel daily taught me something about the significance of the SlutWalk.

As I walked, my nerves and suspicion eased. I found myself thinking a powerful thought: THIS is what feminism can look like. To argue otherwise, I realized, is an attempt to foreclose what feminism can be. To do so undermines not only the shift from feminism to feminisms, but also our feminist commitments to self-definition, empowerment and agency. We must ask ourselves, Who am I to determine how someone else should embody a feminist stance of resistance? 

To be clear, I do not believe that the word “slut” can be positively redeemed or reclaimed. Like the word “nigger,” it is often the last one heard by those who pay the price of oppression with their lives. Such dehumanizing words serve to justify violence in the eyes of those who inflict it. I wish that SlutWalkers—myself now included—would pause to outwardly acknowledge the harsh reality of what such hateful words have been used to do.

 

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