Coco Khan: Missing the Point of Slutwalk Entirely


I wasn’t going to write anymore about Slutwalk this week; especially after Slutwalk London came out on the side of rape apologists. Then, in the it never rains, but pours construction of life, I came across this piece of nincompoopery in the Huffington Post. Yes, Coco Khan claims to be aware of the criticisms surrounding Slutwalk and chose to attend in spite of her misgivings. But, I’m struggling to see how one can claim to be aware of the criticisms and support of Slutwalk and then write this: 

I didn’t stay long, I was too angry, hurt and disappointed – it’s the same feeling as watching your underdog football team (Feminism FC) get all the way to cup finals and then crash and burn because they still hadn’t ironed out that formation problem from Round 1. It was the liberal and constant use of the word ‘victim’ that infuriated me, it was the speeches that assumed Assange did it, like a speech the year before assumed DSK did too. 

It was the insipid use of facts such as ‘93% of rapists get away with it’ as though every single man accused was guilty. Feminism isn’t about assuming every accused man is a rapist. It’s about equality, and freedom, or specifically fair trials and fair treatment. I was equally upset to see a youthful crowd, a new generation of feminists whose interest had been piqued, being completely misdirected. It’s important to stand around and cheer, to raise our firsts in the air, to weep at the tales of the people we fight for and be inspired by them too. But it’s also important to get organised.

I mean, where do you even start? Yes, 93% [give or take a few percentage points] of men accused of rape are never convicted of rape but, that’s because we live in a rape culture where men are constructed as victims of lying whores. Thing is most men accused of rape are guilty of rape. They may not be found guilty in a court of law but that’s because the law’s an ass. Very few accusations of rape are false. Even the government and the FBI, neither of whom are hotbeds of radical feminism, agree with these statistics. So, why would any woman write anything so utterly ridiculous? Did Khan completely fail to see how offensive and arrogant that is to rape victims? Last time, I checked feminism was about the liberation of women from male violence and equality, fair trials and fair treatment for women [and children]  who were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. It is they who get unfair treatment in the criminal justice system. Not rapists. I genuinely can not express how unbelievably angry I am at that.

As for the references to Julian Assange and Domique Strauss-Khan, well, they were kind of obvious weren’t they? Imagine an anti-rape demonstration not mentioning the two most famous rape trials of the past two years? Two cases involving powerful, wealthy, white men where the men have been constructed as victims of some sort of evil feminist conspiracy because both self-define as liberals. It is the very rape myths surrounding these trials that Slutwalk is attempting to address. Yeah, I don’t agree with the way Slutwalk is addressing the issue by using the word slut, but, FFS, criticising an anti-rape demo for talking about rape cases is beyond stupid. 

And, yes, I’m sure the speakers at the rally used the word victim constantly. Just as I’m sure some of them will have used the word survivor constantly. Women who were raped are more than within their rights to define themselves as victims or survivors as they see fit. There is debate within the feminist and other anti-rape movements about which word is more applicable but Khan doesn’t seem to be addressing this debate. She seems to be dismissing the idea that many women are victims and/or survivors of sexualised violence. It’s a very odd statement to make.

And, the “it’s time to get organised” bit, is, well, weird. Isn’t that exactly what Slutwalk was doing: organising a feminist demonstration. Giving women a place to share their stories . It seems rather hypocritical to be criticising someone for not organising feminist activism at a piece of feminist activism. The conclusion to the article does nothing to negate the damage caused within it:

What Slutwalk has achieved can never be disregarded. It energized a growing and inexplicable discontent amongst women and directed it in a way that academia never could. It stopped preaching to the choir and took it the streets. For all its flaws in its punchy, explosive name, the reality is no one will come to a rally that sounds like an essay and Slutwalk should keep doing what they are doing. But this event is not enough to carry the bright flame of feminism single-handedly; two chapters in, the story has barely begun.

Yep, I’m a big supporter of the whole moving away from Slutwalk into more critical discussions of rape culture but I’d prefer to start by moving away from the premise that most women lie about rape and most men accused of rape are victims of an evil conspiracy. Could just be me though. Doing that whole over-thinking thing feminists are always being accused of. 

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