Monday, 13 June 2011
"Just cos you can see my butt, doesn't mean that i'm a slut..."
SLUTWALK London 2011 was an amazing experience. The 3,000 participants approached the serious message behind the anti-rape march - 'Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means Yes and No means No' - with a sense of fun and freedom.
There were female dogs *ahem* in corsets, men in short skirt and fishnet combos and even a bare boob (or two). Banners emblazoned with "Consent is sexy", "My little black dress isn't an invitation", and even one re-interpreting the name of the event as "Vulva Trot" floated above the crowd alongside red heart-shaped balloons.
The sound of impassioned chanting filled the street of Piccadilly, with "Hey hey mister, get your hands off my sister!" and "Just cos you can see my butt, does mean that I'm a slut" firm sing-along favourites.
At the base of the aptly phallic-shaped Nelson's column, the slutwalkers assembled to hear inspirational speeches from the 17-year old organizer, representatives from anti-rape groups, the transgender community and English Prostitute's Collective.
What struck me was that rape isn't caused by superficial sexual attraction. Women dressed in full burkhas are raped, as are elderly women. Rape is also most commonly perpetrated by lovers, husbands or friends who, let's be honest, have probably already seen their victim naked.
So the reason must lie in an abuse of power or dominance, which undermines the assertion that if you go out wearing a short skirt, then the likelihood of you being raped becomes astronomical. This stereotype only serves to inhibit women's confidence and freedom to dress how they like, and unfairly assumes that men are all secretly rapists who can't control themselves when they see a bit of upper thigh.
The fact that many women don't report rape because they know they amount of cross-examination they will have to undergo in court about their personal life, sexual past, how much they were drinking and how short their skirt was that night is patronizing and demeaning, and places undue guilt upon the victim.
As the organizer of the march said: "SLUT means SPEAK UP".
This is something women and men need to do in order to undo the damaging stereotype that is silencing our right to security and freedom from violence.