Monday, June 06, 2011
Slutwalks confront blame-the-victim mentality
In January, at a safety forum for students at York University, a Toronto police officer made a flippant and revealing comment about female victims of sexual assault. The officer commented that women should refrain from dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped. (The officer who made the remarks has since retracted and apologized.)
The comments sparked a series of protest marches in Canada and the United States. These protests, known as "slutwalks," draw attention to the appalling attitude in our society which seeks to blame victims of sexual assault for their manner of dress and their appearance. You know? The hateful "she was asking for it" meme.
Slutwalks have occurred or are planned in Toronto, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Reno, Austin, Dallas, Asheville, and Ottawa. (Portland, where are you?) They feature women (and sympathetic men), some dressed in scanty or revealing clothing --clothing that might be deemed "slutty" --protesting the backward notion that one's attire might provoke sexual assault.
Sadly, there are deeply-ingrained sexual attitudes in this patriarchal society that continue to objectify women. These attitudes are yet another endowment of the prudish and repressive Puritan colonists. Isn't it funny how the very people who condemn Muslims for repressing women are also the very first to condemn women for (supposed) immoral behavior? (It seems to me that all the "Children of Abraham," Christian, Jew, and Muslim alike, are guilty of misogyny to one degree or another.)
Innumerable studies (you can read one such here) have shown that sexual assault is an act of domination and hatred. It has little or nothing to do with sexual desire. (Remember what happened to Lara Logan in Cairo last February?)
The idea that a woman's appearance can provoke sexual assault is largely without merit. Women and girls of all shapes, sizes, and ages are sexually assaulted every day in every community. It doesn't matter how they look.
So, I'm all in favor of these slutwalks. In fact, I'll go ahead and declare myself in favor of women asserting their political power anywhere and everywhere. God knows they could scarcely screw things up worse than we men have done over the centuries.
Besides, some of my best friends are sluts.