SlutWalk Edinburgh 2012

Slutwalk Edinburgh takes place Saturday July 7th 

1:30 pm in Parliament Square on the Royal Mile. 

Those are the details for this years Slutwalk Edinburgh for those who are interested. I won’t be attending because I find the whole idea of Slutwalks problematic. I would have marched in the original in Toronto because that had a specific purpose: to raise awareness of the misogynistic discourse normalised within the police as it manifested in that specific incident. The worldwide movement to reclaim the word “slut” bothers me. There seems to have been little real political analysis of the word and its specific connotations for different groups of women due to race, class, and ethnicity. Personally, I don’t believe it is possible to re-appropriate the words of your oppressors. I also think its incredibly odd to try to reclaim the word “slut” in order to demonstrate that rape isn’t about being a “slut”.

Violence against women is endemic and systemic. It is everywhere and it is excused a thousand times a day in a million different ways. Slutwalk doesn’t address or even attempt to analyse VAW. It only attempts to address one facet of rape myths without questioning the rape culture in which those myths are perpetuated and perpetrated. Rape isn’t just about controlling women’s sexuality as Slutwalk seems to imply. The act of rape [and the fear of the act of rape] are about controlling every facet of women’s lives. Rape isn’t about how women dress [or don’t dress]. Rape is the practise of misogyny. It is misogyny that we need to eradicate but we need to do this by attacking every facet of VAW. Slutwalk privileges the lived experiences of middle class, white women. It merely reinforces the racist constructions about the sexuality of Black and Ethnic Minority women. It ignores the structural oppressions of poverty. It ignores how the structural oppressions of poverty specifically target Black and Ethnic Minority women.

I want the eradication of the patriarchal-capitalist structures which oppress women. I don’t want to reclaim or re-appropriate the words of my oppressors. I want them gone.

I wish my sisters luck [and sunshine] for Slutwalk Edinburgh. I won’t be on the march but, if Slutwalk becomes the catalyst which destroys the Patriarchy, I will be the first one to apologise.

Some interesting blogs and articles on Slutwalk:

Amplify Your Voice: In Context: Criticisms of the Slutwalk

People of Colour Organize: Four Brief Critiques of Slutwalk’s Whiteness, Privilege and Unexamined Power Dynamics

Black Women’s Blueprint: An Open Letter From Black Women to the Slutwalk

The Crunk Feminist Collective: I Saw the Sign but Did We Really Need the Sign? Slutwalk and Racism

The F Word: Feminist Critiques of Slutwalk Have Forgotten That Language is Not a Commodity

Gail Dines & Wendy J Murphy: Slutwalk is not Sexual Liberation

Alternatives to Slutwalk:

Reclaim the Night

Million Women Rise

Women’s Magazines: Reinforcing Patriarchal Values Using Women to Police Women

I think it’s obvious that I don’t read “women’s” magazines. I think I read Cosmo once when I was a teenager. It had an article on why swallowing sperm was bad: it’s high in calories. Because that’s what you should be thinking of when having sex: whether or not you will get “fat”. Not thinking about preventing STDs or ensuring that your relationship involves mutual respect and consideration so that both partners are sexually fulfilled without one doing something that makes them uncomfortable. Nope, swallowing is bad because it makes women fat. Course, that was 15 years ago. Considering the mainstreaming of porn, I’m sure swallowing is mandatory and those pesky calories can be covered by not eating anything else that day.

That is the purpose of women’s magazines: to make women realise how imperfect and pathetic they are and then flog them clothes, make-up and other assorted shite to make them feel like “real” women. It’s capitalism. Yes, some magazines like Marie Claire used to be pro-women including articles on work/life balance, sexual health and family relationships. But that isn’t what they sell now. Women’s magazines now sell that same old reductive, constrictive, and boring construction of female sexuality where we need to be sexually available to men at all times and concerned entirely with their orgasms whilst at the same time doing all the childcare, housework, and ensuring that we remain entirely fuckable by being malnourished and physically perfect at the same time.

This is without getting into the whole “celebrity” magazines which are marketed at women so we can laugh at Kerry Katona and buy make-up at the same time. The fact that Kerry Katona had a very public breakdown because she was ill is irrelevant. She gets to be what “good” women shouldn’t be and we can make ourselves feel better about being fat and ugly because we aren’t her. It is an incredibly destructive behaviour, pitting women against other women.

But, this is exactly what women’s magazines do. They reinforce the Patriarchy by using women to police other women. We become our own jailers; judging other women for not shaving their legs, having grey hair, or being overweight. Women buy magazines that call women who have literally just given birth fat. Women buy magazines that tell them they are frigid for not wanting to have anal sex. Women buy magazines that tell them to shut up in order to get a man. Women buy magazines that tell them that they can only be one of two things: fuckable or an invisible.

Personally, I am dancing in the streets at the demise of women’s magazines. I am glad that women are choosing to use blogs and twitter to talk with other women. Collaborative blogs like Jezebel, F-Word and Vagenda are replacing Cosmo. Teenager girls, who are surrounded by a pornographied culture which devalues and denigrates them, can access Scarleteen for information on sexuality and birth control. The Internet might be responsible for the explosion in violent pornography but it’s also the place of a deeply subversive underground of brilliant women writers who are fighting back; refusing to police the behaviour of other women in order to receive some crumbs from the Patriarchy’s table of plenty.

There is a reason the right-wing press spends so much time writing about the “nest of vipers” of Mumsnet and it’s not because we bake cookies. It’s because women talking to other women and supporting each other is what will destroy the Patriarchy. We aren’t just taking back our bodies. We are taking their power and it scares the shit out of the Patriarchy.