Women around the world are participating in #slutwalk to reclaim the “derogatory” word and the right to dress however they wish, whenever they wish.
These women are incensed by a Canadian policeman who candidly opined that women should not to dress like sluts if they want to avoid being the victims of sexual assault.
These women have accused the policeman of being a misogynist and a proponent of the victim-as-perpetrator excuse for rape.
Perhaps they are right on both counts. But in fabricating a mildly controversial PR stunt that advocates the celebration of being a “slut”, these women are grievously wrong in encouraging others to dress in a sexually provocative manner whenever they want.
To do so is a grave disservice to all women, particularly young women, who are striving to be seen and treated as equal and capable in relationships, social settings, learning places and the workforce.
Before I am misunderstood, let me say up front that there is no excuse for rape. Not ever. No woman or man, regardless of their dress, demeanour or behaviour, should be subjected to sexual activity against their will and there is no justification for doing so.
The rightful denial of “sluttishness” as an excuse for sexual assault (which more often than not is an act of dominance rather than sexuality) does not however shield a provocatively dressed woman from a litany of other negative responses from those who observe her.
Some will see her as sexually aggressive or promiscuous, while others will conclude she has no self-respect. The worst judgement of all will be that she is a bimbo with no capacity for rational or analytical thought. Perhaps these responses would be elicited regardless of the woman’s attire, but they undoubtedly would be amplified and reinforced by sexually suggestive clothing.
Is this prejudice acceptable? No of course it’s not. But it exists in pretty much every part of our society – the very places where our sisters, daughters and female friends live, learn and work.
But holding a public march to celebrate the very nature of sluttishness is simply counterproductive.
Pseudo shock tactics like this do nothing to promote an understanding and acceptance that women who choose to dress in a feminine and attractive manner are also smart and capable and must be treated with respect.
The sad truth is that a woman shouldn’t dress like a slut if she wants to be taken seriously or treated as an equal.
Protesting against unacceptable justifications for rape is one thing; teaching our daughters how to get respect in their relationships and workplaces is another thing altogether.
The #slutwalk may achieve the first but it will undermine the latter. Perhaps the sluts need to take a good long look at themselves.
If you’d like to hear a radio interview I did with @CarolDuncan on this post, just follow this link