SlutWalk Baltimore: The New Face of Feminism?

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The SlutWalk movement — and its supporters, critics, critical supporters, and supportive critics —  has twisty, turny story that began when a Toronto police officer suggested that women were getting assaulted because they were dressing like “sluts.” In an attempt to reclaim the word and affirm women’s right to wear whatever they feel like wearing, some Canadian feminists created SlutWalk Toronto — a protest against victim blaming combined with a celebration of personal empowerment. 

As the movement’s organizers put it
, “We are tired… of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence… No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.  We are a movement demanding that our voices be heard. We are here to call foul on our Police Force and demand change.”

The first SlutWalk drew a few thousand protesters, and similar marches followed in London, San Francisco, Melbourne… all around the world, really. And now, thanks to a group of dedicated local activists, it’s Baltimore’s turn. SlutWalk Baltimore is scheduled for noon on September 17, starting at the Inner Harbor and ending in front of City Hall.

A protest calling for an end to victim-blaming and exposing the hypocrisy of some police officers seems particularly appropriate here, as Baltimore’s police force recently made national news for under-reporting rapes. But the SlutWalk movement is not without its critics (read a round-up of critical viewpoints here). As Rebecca Traister recently wrote in the New York Times, “But at a moment when questions of sex and power, blame and credibility, and gender and justice are so ubiquitous and so urgent, I have mostly felt irritation that stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts is passing for keen retort.”

Where do you stand on the SlutWalk phenomenon: liberating or reactionary?

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  1. I have traveled throughout Southeast Asia for a year. There is a modesty in dress that is maintained in all these countries by both men and women. When I returned to the US after traveling in Asia, I was unexpectedly, shocked by the contrast in how immodestly people were dressed. As Americans, we expect that we can do whatever we wish and everyone should deal with it. That’s the downside of individualism. In truth women are never assaulted or raped because of what they are wearing. They are assaulted and raped because of a culture of violence against women. However, encouraging women to taunt that reality seems to me to be irresponsible. I think sexuality in its deepest pleasures is more about process of slowly revealing oneself, physically and emotionally to another, rather than being sexual by revealing it all. The commodification and commercialism of sexuality/celebrity is a means of encouraging a look that helps sell clothes. I think the Sluts need to think more about the corporate control over what being a woman means, rather then fashion options. And I think we should all work to change the culture of violence, in anyway we can.

  2. While I appreciate the sentiments expressed by some who support Slutwalk marches, I wonder what alternate universe they live in. A woman who dresses (or undresses as it were) provocatively invites sexual advances and they know it. When inhibitions are lowered by things like alcohol and hormones are flying off the charts, a provocatively dressed woman thrown into the mix only heightens the risk factor. Of course I abhor rape and would kick the #@$! out of anyone who tried to rape any family members, but woman have to understand, for their own good, what a powerful message they send by how they dress. It’s really common sense 101. Like it or not.

    • Expand your horizons. Try Brasil.
      The point is that women n girls can walk around naked if they want but that is not an invitation to rape someone. Stop trying to rationalize a way to get people to tolerate old ways of thinking. Move to south east Asia if you wish. Rape will still happen there and they will have some other justification for it. Maybe there you will disagree with that justification? Peace.

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