By Phoebe Myers
Are SlutWalks actually beneficial to ending slut shaming?
First things first, what the hell is a SlutWalk? Essentially, it’s a grassroots demonstration attempting to reclaim the word “slut” and turn it from an insult to a point of pride. Others argue that it’s to show the hypocrisy of the very concept of “slut”. Anyone can be called a slut, whether they’re a stripper or a librarian, wearing lingerie or a turtleneck. It’s an insult born from misogyny, and just one of many ways to control women. It’s used as an excuse to blame victims of sexual assault or rape.
The first SlutWalk was in response to a Toronto policeman, Michael Sanguinetti, who told women on a college campus “not to dress like sluts” if they didn’t want to get raped. What an asshole. Women were outraged, and staged a public march titled SlutWalk, where the dress code was up for interpretation. Clothing ranged from jeans and sweaters to thongs and boas. The idea was to show that rape is rape, no matter what the victim is wearing.
The idea has caught on, with SlutWalks popping up in Sweden, Australia, Argentina, England, and many more. Celebrity Amber Rose just hosted one in L.A. a few weeks ago. “To be told that I was nothing but a stripper, it hurt. So I decided to have this SlutWalk for women who have been through shit like me” she said.
Yet, is it possible to “reclaim” a word as toxic as slut, or others that are analogous? A lot of people think not. They argue that by using the term “slut” themselves, women are simply making it ok for men to continue calling them sluts in a derogatory manner. They believe that avoiding the word altogether is the best approach, to make it completely unacceptable to say out loud in any instance.
It’s a complicated topic to think about, but personally I agree with the SlutWalk. I firmly believe that in the U.S., we are still quick to blame victims. Why were they drinking? What were they wearing? Did they sleep around a lot?
I don’t think “slut” is not going to disappear overnight, and if it’s going to be used, we may as well take away the stigma and point out it’s ridiculousness as a concept.