Why do you call it SLUT-Walk?

This post addresses a lot of questions being raised by the slutwalk. Mostly in conversations on Twitter (because questions raised are similar, and I can embed tweets as questions more easily.

But first things first. If the below is similar to your response, you may first want to read an earlier post on women and rape and then the one explaining what a slutwalk is, before proceeding, because otherwise, the rest of the post may only be unnecessary confusion.

Response to the post on Slutwalk on Facebook

Please dont get me wrong but its Triveni Sangam….Exhibitionism in Name of Feminism to the Delight of Voyuerism……..jokes apart a shallow superficial attempt entertaining though……common sense says yes we have a right to carry a wallet ir purse but if you flash it be prepared to face what may follow…….

To understand the idea of a slutwalk, it is important to first see women as people deserving of dignity in their own right, not allocated dignity on the basis of judgments by others.

As the idea matures, many questions are raised, concerns voiced, discomforts addressed. Here are some of the main ones I noticed.

There is a lot of discomfort at the word “slut” being used. Some triviliaze the protest.

And it is not necessarily people who would judge women thus. Its an ugly word. It is entrenched as one kind of woman very deeply into our psyche. And that is not a “good” kind of woman.

Let me begin with saying that Madhavan Narayanan is a man I respect tremendously and I can say with a lot of confidence that he wouldn’t be demeaning women for sure. He has been one of my earliest follows on Twitter, and I have found his words to be an inspiring mix of insight and humor. Without taking himself or the world too seriously to get rigid, he is able to question the crux of many matters in a humorous way that bypasses resistance and invites conversation.

It is a measure of how much power the word “slut” has, when it has a person usually never at a loss for words admitting discomfort at its use. It is an embarassing word. It is a word not uttered in decent company. Certainly not with a woman. Even on Twitter. Not even when you have no such attitude.

But there are people for whom this word is a tool. It is a tool to engage in what is essentially a hate crime, or bullying and excuse themselves by deeming a certain quality of the target as legitimate for degradation. It is an attitude of excusing crime, of disempowering women and of creating an unsafe society.

It is also not only about women. This attitude is used for everything from eve teasing to child abuse and gay bashing to rape. It is about a way of thinking that excuses crimes by calling a person a legitimate target. Also practiced by families, parents, guardians to punish the victim for being the target of a criminal. From honor killings to husbands accusing wives of “provoking” lechers. It is an acceptance that allows jokes about rape victims as normal conversation, or makes lewd comments about someone funny. It is one that allows public figures to make hideous comments like rapes curing lesbianism. And it is not only men who do it. Women judge too. It is a social reality. One that makes many people unsafe.

Read an old old post on women’s clothing and social judgements

It is not just the word slut. It is an attitude. An attitude that no one feels able to own in the light of attention, but holds as reality in assessing the world. In judging someone as worthy of being abused because of what they wear, how they act or other circumstances or qualities.

In the words of THE original women who slutwalked:

Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

And I agree. “SLUT” stays. The only way I would support changing the word was if it could be changed to be understood by more Indians – take your pick:

randi-chaal or chinnar-morcha?

Get it? Having bad names for women is the problem. Get rid of them, and you don’t need to be embarrassed.

So, join us in de-shaming them. Find a slutwalk in your city, or better still, organize one.

Respect is an attitude. Dignity is a right. #slutwalk Don’t judge us for your thoughts.

Delhi is slutwalking on 25th June 2011

Mumbai has one planned.

Details of both will be added soon.

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About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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