Monday, 13 June 2011

SlutWalk letter to ed in Herald today

Below is a letter to the editor in the Herald today, from Leonie Morris of the Auckland Women's Centre, who is also involved with Feminist Action. 

I'm putting it up because I think it's quite useful to read in the context of some of the discussion around SlutWalk.  I've seen stuff that has focused on the word slut and whether or not that should be used, reclaimed, or not.  Leonie's letter imho very effectively shifts the discussion from acknowledging that relatively minor issue to the bigger one of getting across what SlutWalk is about, rather than the language used to express it; i.e. No one ever asks for rape. 

New clothes
The Perspectives article headlined "Sex and feminists' new clothes" was accurate.  Regrettably, women in sexually provocative clothes are likely to be objectified by men.

On Auckland's SlutWalk on June 25, some women will choose to wer sexually provocative clothes and others will not, but our nited message is against the rape myth that what women wear can be an invitation to rape.

Many rape myths are prevalent in New Zealand, and busting them is critical as a rape prevention measure and also so juries in rape trials are no longer influenced by these misogynistic and deep-rooted myths.  "She invite him home", "she was walking in town late at night," "she had been drinking", therefore "she asked for it".

"Only yes means yes" is a slogan favoured by today's feminists emphasising the difficulties around consent to sex and the importance of both parties being clear about their intentions and needs.

SlutWalks from Toronto to Birmingham to Auckland are demanding we stop blaming rape victims and adopt the simple truth - "Men can stop rape". 

Please note, the headline is picked by the Herald. 


Moz said...

Of course, her slogan is a lie. Men cannot stop rape by themselves.

But it does make a nice easy media slogan, and that's probably more important to her.

nznative said...

Well I wouldn't call the slogan ' a lie' but I will say spare me from 'simple soloutions ' to complex problems.

A lot of rapists have suffered abuse rangeing from neglect to violence and sexual offending against them. They grow up damaged and full of hate and anger.

How does society ensure that all children are brought up with respect and love so that they grow into respectful and loveing adults???.

Because thats one thing we have to do better at as a society .... and thats not just men.

Otherwise I can stop rape in the singular by never doing it myself.

but how I can stop some debase man who I dont even know from commiting ANY crime is beyond me UNLESS Im present and intervene which I definatly would if the crime I was wittnessing was rape.......... and I have jumped into street beatings and fights at concerts to try and stop them so I'm being serious.

But apart from that being totally against rape I dont see what more I can do.

How would the slogan ' only Maoris can stop Marois being crims' go down???

Its quite insulting to the overwhelming majority of non-criminal maori isn't it.

nznative said...

p.s when I say.... " ensure that all children are brought up with respect and love" .

I'm talking about respect towards the children not demanding it from them.

You cant demand respect from a child or anyone ....... you earn it over time by your actions and deeds

Deep said...

We need to cut off the supply of the drug, alcohol (which is a drug definitely) to society in order to stop violence. Only when our children are not on this drug will they live with respect.

Also with so many of our men going to Thailand to commit rape and abuse of women there we will never send the message that rape is wrong.

Anonymous said...

" ensure that all children are brought up with respect and love"

I think it requires more than that. Not sure what exactly, but one thing might be that in a household with girls and boys, the 'respect and love' is expressed to both in the same manner. So kissing your daughters but not you sons or taking your sons along to your Ninjitsu class but not your daughters for example would be unhelpful. In a household with only girls or boys, it will need to be verbally explained (at various points in their lives) why some people treat girls different to boys and what is or isn't appropriate in that regard.

The other thing is we need to be careful of our aspirational and success-driven language. When you teach kids to take every opportunity that comes by, and to create opportunities, and to take and effectively manage risks to achieve success, then there may be unintended consequences in their behaviour towards other people, demographic strata, or societies.

The other thing to keep in mind is otherwise well adjusted people rape. Partly because it's relatively easy to get away with (victims don't complain, not enough people take them seriously if they do and there is unlikely to be enough proof to remove reasonable doubt anyway), and partly because in many cases, they won't see it as rape.

So I guess another thing parents would want to do is ensure that their kids are clear on what is rape and not just being assertive. So being open about sex is probably a good thing.

*All of the above is utterly uninformed opinion.

nznative said...

anonymous made some valid points ..... but this statement caught my eye ........"otherwise well adjusted people rape." ......... and its true but the word OTHERWISE should be in bold because rapists are not normal.

They might be hiding under a veneer of normality but they are actually quite sick ........

and yes the scale of rape is huge .... the conviction rate dispiriting ......... and the sickness runs through all strata's of society.

And the rapists are almost always men.

Society in its present form ....... especially with national increasing the drivers of crime and also creating a more divisive and angry society .... add aggresive pushing of the drug booze into the mix and we'll always have rape and other violent crime.

But normal people dont do these things .......... but if the incidence of rape is so high that it is 'normal ' due to its frequency ........... then we live in a sick fucken society.

which would not surprise me at all ........

Julie said...

My one quibble with Leonie's otherwise good letter would be the implication (which I'm not sure is intended) that all rapists are men (NB: v different from "all men are rapists")

When there are still so many messages out there along the "asking for it" lines, I think there probably are heaps and heaps of people who have raped but don't see it as rape. When I think about the fact that I have discovered I know more and more people who have been raped as I get older and they disclose their stories to me it leads me to conclude that I possibly also know more and more rapists. This is a scary thought, especially as I suspect a lot of those who have raped probably don't see anything wrong with what they've done and don't see it as rape. In fact just typing this, I was thinking about the two men I know who have raped (not in my life anymore) and realised I know a third as well (also not in my life anymore). How many more do I know who've never named it that themselves and no one has ever confronted them with it either?

For me approach to sex ed, and broader portrayal of sex in the media etc, that focuses on positive consent would be a good way to hopefully change the culture away from unconscious rape (in the sense that the rapist doesn't care enough about consent, feels entitled etc, and currently can often find that attitude supported rather than condemned and thus ignore that they have raped).