Calling All… um… Sluts?

Ages ago, as part of reference reading for my feminist literature paper (yes, yes, it’s true, move on) I’d read an article about a remarkable movement that happened in Britain years ago. It was part of an initiative to Reclaim the Night.

As kids, we all, little boys and girls alike, wet our pajamas at the thought of the creepy monsters that lurk in the shadows. Then we grow up and some of those little boys become the creepy monsters that lurk in the shadows. We girls are warned to come home before it gets dark, not to stay out too late with our friends… you know, in case something bad happens.

We’re taught to fear the dark for reasons that have nothing to do with evolution. We’re denied our freedom in the twilight hours because god forbid, some oversexed male predator spots us and decides he’s in the mood for a quick rape.

Reclaim the Night said that the problem was the predator, not the victim. The man, not the woman. They said that if boys couldn’t keep their penises locked away after dark, maybe parents should keep their boys locked up after the dark. You don’t hide from rabid dogs, you lock them up, right? And that’s how Sister Walks came into being. Candlelight walks attended by women of all kinds, in an effort to Reclaim the Night for women.

Was it effective? Can’t say. Did it get the message across? Yes maam, it did.

I don’t know if Slutwalk is going to do that.

First of all, because the men it is aimed at are NOT going to see it as a protest. They’re going to see it as a commercial for Axe. Hundreds of women in skimpy clothing marching down the roads in broad daylight? Yeah, I don’t see guys shaking their heads going, “Man, I’m so ashamed I ever objectified these fine samples of humanity.”

It’s not going to happen.

I’m not saying Slutwalk’s intentions aren’t noble. A protest against the belief that a woman’s clothing can invite rape?* Sounds good. But then its objective shouldn’t be to reclaim the word ‘slut’. To me and I’m guessing to most of the un-Elizabethan** English-speaking world, a slut isn’t someone who merely dresses provocatively. It’s someone who trades sex for money. Or sleeps around a lot. And while the morality of both those acts is a discussion for another day, I’m pretty certain I don’t want the word associated with me. I certainly don’t want to be part of Slutwalk Bombay, which in a stunning display of tactlessness is being called Maal Chaal.

It’d be like wanting to be called a cunt to celebrate the natural beauty of the female form.

*Years ago, in America a rapist went scot-free on the “She was asking for it” defense. To which American columnist Lewis Grizzard replied, “She may have been asking for it, pal, but she sure as hell wasn’t asking for it from you.”

** The term ‘slut’ derives from the word ‘slattern’, and orginiated sometime in 15th century England to mean an untidy, prominscuous or uncouth woman. Litgeeked. Doesn’t have the same ring as ‘Lawyered’, but what the hell.

6 thoughts on “Calling All… um… Sluts?

  1. On January 24, 2011 Constable Michael Sanguinetti was a speaker at a York University safety forum, where he was addressing the issue of crime prevention. It was in this context that he commented: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Co-founders Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis therefore decided to use the word slut in their demonstration. – Wikipedia

    This movement originated in Canada and retained its name even as it spread to cities across the world. As I understand it, one of the movement's aims is to combat the notion that women who dress provocatively are sluts. They are not. To that end, I have no problem with what it is called.


  2. Maal chaal? Really?

    In related news, today's paper carried an article about the same and informed me that the Delhi version is going to be called “Besharmi Morcha”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s