So today’s post may be deviating a little from my usual format of fun activities to do, or places to go see in Melbourne. This is going to be about a protest march happening in Melbourne that I think may be of some interest to my readers.
Slutwalk Melbourne 2012
History of the movement
Slutwalk is an organized protest marches through the streets of people protesting against the cultures of victim-blaming and slut-shaming, particularly in the context to rape. The movement originally started in 2011 in Toronto after a police officer told female college students to “avoid dressing like sluts” in order to avoid becoming a victim of rape. The statement is problematic to say the least. It suggests that the victims of rape are in some part to blame by not working to prevent their attack better (whether this involves dressing more conservatively or not behaving in a manner that could be deemed ‘slutty’). Slutwalk essentially opposes this view, that the only one who is to blame for the crime of rape is the individual who made the conscious decision to attack another. The sentiment also suggests that rape is primarily about sexual attraction, while it is more about domination and control of another person – which would make the argument of sexually suggestive clothing irrelevant to the equation. The movement has garnered so much attention and spread to all corners of the globe – evidently, as I attended the one in Melbourne on Saturday the 1st of September.
The movement isn’t without its criticisms though. It’s been called out on its lack of ethnic diversity in participants and a movement that relies on white (or Western) women’s privilege to be able to call themselves sluts and walk on the road in skimpy clothing (in many countries, women wouldn’t do that as a matter of choice, rather than being forced to comply to religious or cultural expectations). Others claim the word ‘slut’ shouldn’t be celebrated, as it would only serve to perpetuate misogynist beliefs rather than challenge them. The movement (and its name) is open to individual interpretation and as a result, Slutwalk means different things to different people. Some march to claim back the word ‘slut’, a word that symbolizes feminine sexual promiscuity, as something to be celebrated instead of shameful.
I initially found out about Slutwalk last year, when a friend of mine posted pictures of her attending one in the States. Most of the information I have collected in relation to it has been through blogs, online news coverage and youtube videos. You can check out the website here, follow their tweets here.