Saturday, 14 May 2011

SlutWalk - another point of view

Here's a very provocative piece responding to the SlutWalk which took place in Boston on Saturday 7 May. As of today it had 545 comments. The authors are Wendy J. Murphy, adjunct professor of sexual violence at New England Law, Boston; and Gail Dines, professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College, Boston, and author of Pornland: How porn has hijacked our culture. Dines is shortly to visit Australia to take part in an extensive programme of public seminars on feminism and women's writing, including "Daughters of the Revolution" looking at the legacy of feminism - which, interestingly, is already sold out.


Anonymous said...

Interestingly I never regarded the idea of reclaiming the word "slut" as being an exhortation to sluttishness.

I only saw it as being:

disempowerment of the word as a term of abuse; and
being a "slut" is OK if that is what you want to be.

From what I have seen of the slutwalk, one can wear whatever one likes. As has been said before, whether it is the skimpiest of skimp, or the most buttoned up of victorian garb, makes no difference.

To me, Slutwalk isn't about the right to be called a slut, but about the fact that being called on is not harmful to one's sense of self.

stargazer said...

thanx for the link anne. in a similar vein was this post at salons (linked to by hoydens).

ms p said...

I can't really get behind the argument that "The term slut is so deeply rooted in the patriarchal "madonna/whore" view of women's sexuality that it is beyond redemption." I don't think any word is beyond redemption, I don't think that's how language works.

However, I think the idea that the deeprooted cultural associations of the word 'slut' mean that reclaiming it to contest sexual shaming may be unsuccessful and actually do the opposite of what is intended is compelling, given how female sexual empowerment has been co-opted for sexist ends.

I mean, the article comes across as a little patronising and misguided in suggesting that Slutwalk is about encouraging women to be sluttish - I haven't got that at all from what I've read and women don't need to be protected from being 'sluttish'. But, given how the era of greater sexual empowerment we live in still predominantly casts female sexuality as performative, misogynists gonna be misgynist.

They won't get that people are marching to demonstrate the nonsense of the term 'slut' because they don't want to and because it does require upending some deeply embedded cultural assumptions. For them, it'll just reinforce that, man, 'women love being sluts. They embrace the term.'

But then, I don't know that tailoring our approach to try and change the opinions of people like that is ever going to make much headway. I guess you want to make the people wavering in the middle have a jolly good think... {wanders off rambling incoherent thoughts}