SlutWalk: a celebration of the right to be slutty even when you aren’t

Posted on 04 September 2011

An initial protest against rape victim blaming has somehow transformed into a movement for non-slutty women to walk out in their undies without fear of being called an eyesore.

It all started when Toronto policemen informed women attending a “personal security class” in York university that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

What followed was an outraged protest against rape-victim-blaming in the form of the SlutWalk. SlutWalk, essentially, is a march celebrating the inner slut that apparent exists within all women. Characterised by hordes of women proudly painting the streets with their bodies clad in either slutty attire or, for the more conservative ones, a simple T-shirt with the word “SLUT” scrawled hastily, the slutwalk is an extension of women’s rights which now apparently encompasses a woman’s rights to look like a slut without shame or fear of being raped.

It’s happened in Toronto, Boston, London, New Delhi and one’s happening right here in Singapore in December.

Now fellas, before you start letting your imagination run wild with images of women dressed as porn stars flocking the streets, take a closer look at the picture above.

Plus-sized, ugly, plain, old – women come in all shapes and sizes. All these women who’re out on the streets protesting, clearly have a deep-seated fear of being raped.

Now there’s really no way to put this across sensitively –

a slut has to be hot or at the very least, sexually attractive. Miss wholesome, blonde and chubby with her chubby counterpart? Not sluts. As for this liberated woman wearing the BDSM-inspired bra-top? She looks like an insane hyena, not a slut. As a wide-circulated internet saying goes: “Do not stick your dick in crazy”.

A happily liberated woman

Merely showing some skin doesn’t automatically bump just any woman into the “slut” category. If there were any benchmark to follow – this would probably exemplify The Slut.

A Hawt slut

That’s Julia Roberts’ hooker character in the movie Pretty Woman. That’s The Hot Slut. And a whore at that since she gets paid for sleeping around.

So what’s a slut? A woman who sleeps around – yes. Who wears her sexual availability prominently – yes. Who is promiscuous – yes. An average slut would be your not-bad-looking-under-strobe-lights, promiscuous skank out at St James on a Saturday night looking for a one-night stand. Ugly sluts exist too, but they’re probably more difficult to come by. Men, as I gather, look for attractive women to have intercourse with.

So here’s my confusion with the basic philosophy behind ‘SlutWalk’.

It started off as an indignant protest against the policeman who told a bunch of university students with conventional and not scientific wisdom that dressing like sluts would make one more susceptible to rape.

Then it became a demand for women to be able to dress like sluts without public disaffection, thereby putting a whole new spin on the familiar insults “you shameless slut”.

Now as the SlutWalk Singapore chapter in Singapore has stated: it has become a protest against sexual assault + a protest for rape victims’ rights + a demand for respect.

To paraphrase the gist of the message now: “I demand to be respected as an independent female even as I dress like a whore.” A Slut Pride parade if you will.

Except that – if the photos plastered online were any indication – a fair bit of SlutWalkers don’t exactly qualify as sluts. So unless these wholesome voluptious women with no business showing their overflowing bits in a overly-tight bra top out in public HAVE actually been called a slut previously, their protest to be called a slut without shame makes no sense. Like a meat-eating person joining PETA.

To put it more crudely: Put on some better fitting clothes woman. No one’s calling you a slut. And while you’re at it, get some higher-cut jeans too, your ass crack is showing.

Furthermore, various angry feminists groups and hardworking researchers have shown that rapists in fact, don’t give a hoot about their victims’ getup at all. So a protest for the right to dress like a slut without the fear of being raped, makes no sense either. All women – skanky or not – have an equal chance of being raped.

So what will be the purpose of SlutWalkers when they take to the streets here in December? A demand to be sexually promiscuous without fear of being raped? A demand to wear sexual promiscuity prominently and be respected as a moral woman at the same time? A demand for skankily-clad virgins not to be looked upon as whores?

Going by the previous SlutWalks, it’s probably going to be an occasion for women to turn up in their undies without fear of being judged by their sexual un-attractiveness as they rally together in a common message: the right to be respected no matter what.

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  • Desirée Lim

    What, exactly, is the point of this article? As far as I’m aware, there’s only one:

    1. That the author thinks that some women participating in SlutWalk are too unattractive to qualify as “sluts”.

    Right. Since when did protesting against victim-blaming require a minimum level of attractiveness? And while we’re at it – does the author honestly believe that only attractive women (read: those attractive in his eyes) are called “sluts” and treated as if they are to blame for their own rapes?

    Oddly enough, he points out that “rapists in fact, don’t give a hoot about their victims’ getup at all”. I’m glad we’re in agreement here, great research, yay! Yet he smugly follows with, “So a protest for the right to dress like a slut without the fear of being raped, makes no sense either.”

    If this isn’t confusion, I don’t know what it is (especially for someone who claims to have read SlutWalk’s aims? Tsk). SlutWalkers don’t claim that women who dress provocatively are *more* likely to be raped – that erroneous claim is precisely what they are protesting against, in light of people, even the New York Times, implying that people are raped because of their clothing.

    SlutWalk isn’t about being proud to be slutty, in the misogynistic derogatory sense, as the author predictably interprets it. Speaking out against victim-blaming aside, it attempts to collectively invalidate and neutralise the meaning of the insult, making it meaningless through ubiquity. Of course, this approach is contestable, seeing as it so easily opens itself up to misunderstanding, displayed aptly in this article.

    Here’s a tip: if you want to perform scathing analysis of a movement, understand it first. And proofread your article while you’re at it.

  • Anonymous

    Here is a chance to educate yourself:
    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/what-is-slut-shaming/

    BTW – why are you posing as a man when you are a woman? Odd.

    • hi

      Disagree with the article, but isn’t it possible that the author is transgendered and identifies as male? If so, why characterise that as ‘odd’?

      • G5

        Is the author transgendered really? Haha, don’t think so.

        • G5

          And there is a difference between a person really being transgendered and choosing to pose as a male or female with an ulterior motive.

          • Sh

            Hullo darlings, I’ll reply to this bunch first.
            Since it’s called SlutWalk – and not a-protest-against-victim-blaming walk, I’ll assume all participants are or have been called sluts before and want to protest against the stigma attached to the term.
            What do you suppose is the purpose then, of marching down the streets in the most sexually provocative attire possible?

          • Ron Lim

            You are a moron. You obviously do not understand what SlutWalk is all about. How you can write something you don’t know about is beyond me!

          • Editor

            enlighten me then oh wise one. We’ll be happy to post up an article if your reply’s long enough: [email protected] 😉

          • GS

            Aiyo. I thought your teachers have been teaching you since primary school not to judge anything by its name/cover? Apple is a phone/laptop, don’t bite on it!

      • Anonymous

        hi hi – that’s a fair question but no she’s not trans. she is known around town as she used to write for TOC. I find it odd because the piece is full of so misogyny and on top of that she hides her gender. As a friend of mine puts it, “it’s internalized misogyny at its best.”

        • sh

          Not around town lah pls. You need to be earning millions to be recognised in CBD. Also, we have very pretty transgenders in Singapore, I wouldn’t dare put myself in that category.

  • ncarlinas

    A suggestion to the author: why don’t you come down to slutwalksg, and be our honoured judge on who is ‘hawt’ enough to be a ‘slut’? As Desiree rightly pointed out, women who protest at slutwalk are not wishing to qualify as hot-enough-to-be-a-slut in the eyes of men like you. They are protesting the bigoted and close-mindedness views that many in society have – your extremely clever article wonderfully demonstrating just that.

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  • http://twitter.com/jiansternator Ho Yi Jian

    It’s a problem that the organizers (1) have very little material out on the nature of Slutwalk Singapore even though their phamplet is pretty much a ‘save the date’ notice, and; (2) because of that, they haven’t articulated how a global movement applies to the domestic setting of Singapore. The nature of activism always highlight problems which are not usually in the public light.

    The challenge for the Singapore organizers is to make and adapt “Slutwalk” to be domestically relevant. The origins of the movement, as well as its name “SlutWalk” are contextually relevant to the challenges women and feminists face in the US and Canada. The proud to be a slut attitude comes from the American understanding that you can “reclaim” a deregatory label which is shocking enough to make it newsworthy. There’s been some cases of clear readaptation: http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/LIF-mumbai-takes-a-cue-from-delhi-to-host-slutwalk-2246157.html?PRV= notes that they’ve changed their Hindi name and changed their focus towards Eve teasing rather than victim blaming.

    The next few months will be crucial for the organizers of SlutWalk as they will need to design a publicity campaign that will garner support from Singaporean — men and women. Yes, you will have the Singaporean version of the angry MRAs which in turn will get responses from angry feminists, but the work is to be done with ordinary regular people and persuading them that this is not a Chee Soon Juan type of outing. Clearly, as you have demonstrated, the name itself does not invoke a lot of domestic confidence, so I hope that the SlutWalk organizers have done their homework (having http://publichouse.sg/categories/features/item/35-the-silence-of-sexual-assault-survivors really helps), and then have enough skill to catch public attention, enough charisma to get broad support, enough experience with the government to not get clamped down and finally have enough organizational experience in staging a walk. (They might even have better luck if they have some corporate sponsorship and turn it into one of those charity fitness runs.)

    TL;DR version: it’s really up to the organizers to adjust what the purpose of slutwalk to be, and its still a work in progress. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose…”

    • sh

      Get S factor contestants to march down in bikinis? Publicity and awareness will be instant.

      • HYJ

        YES! The more celebrity endorsements, the more mainstream it will become. Cannot ignore PR.

  • Vicki Yong

    There are so many things wrong with this article, I don’t even know where to begin.

    If you’re trying to write this like a semi-professional journalistic work, then I don’t know why there is clear and unfounded misogynistic remarks, poor background research and analogies that don’t make sense.

    Just some clarifications, “ugly” (in your politically incorrect words) women can be sluts too, go check up the definition, and they are not “difficult to come by”. Nobody is saying that women who dress like sluts are more likely to be raped. They are, however, saying that when women dress like sluts, they either “deserve” to be raped or attracted their perpetrators. Also, sexual attractiveness has nothing to do with anything here- I don’t know why it remains your chief concern.

    Going by your clearly discriminatory and misogynistic logic (and going by the picture you posted of yourself), then I’m glad to say, you don’t have to join Slutwalks. Because ugly women don’t have to fear rape. Congratulations.

    • Sh

      Did I not bold that line thickly enough?
      And no, I wouldn’t dare put myself in the strictly journalistic category together with TOC, TR, Straits Times and Mediacorp. I write very flat jokes thinly disguised as social commentary.

  • Terence Lee

    I think the commentators here are missing the main point of the article. Not everyone is comfortable with the word slut. It is unredeemable, just like “fag” or “nigger”. It has been used and abused so much that the term does indeed connote a sexually promiscuous woman (attractive or not).

    Which is puzzling why we’re calling this a SlutWalk. Fagwalk, anyone? I guess not. Also, this movement risks alienating those who are not comfortable with using the label on themselves.

    Advocates should take criticisms of this movement to heart. Organisers should start doing some educating and take care of branding. And the critics here should really wake up their idea and not be overly defensive.

    • Chuihua

      First: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=slutwalk – to answer your puzzlement on why the word slut.
      Second: Agree that not everyone is comfortable with trying to redeem the word ‘slut’. But there are enough people who are sick of this damaging word being used based on whatever ‘moral’ views of how a woman should behave and this is their way of speaking up against it – what is your problem with that?

    • GS

      On the contrary, I chanced upon *Slut*walk and the curiosity part of me caused me to read and research further on the movement. The end result: I am going to drag my wife and kids out on Dec 4th. Don’t judge the book by its cover!

    • William Ledbetter

      Terence, in the same way that Negros of the 1960s took ownership of the word ‘black’, and homosexuals of the 1970s took ownership of the work ‘gay’, so women in this movement are attempting the same with the word ‘slut’. It being a word of judgement by others (mainly men, but also women), these women are trying to get such shallow-minded individuals at the author of the above article to look more deeply into the subject, and not stop at the mere surface quality of the word. It also gives us all a chance to examine and reflect upon our prejudices towards that word.

  • Aurora

    Goodness are you seriously naive? Have you spoken to rape victims, or at least to those that provide support for them? Tell me, when the victims reported the crime to the police, was the police all understanding, or was one of the first questions asked of the victims related to their attire (and do spare me the mantra it is not applicable to Singapore as if the police here are any different)?  As for the definition of slut, well, it seems you have decided that “slut” is viewed the same throughout the world (and apparently you have been to a Indian village not found on Google earth).  Oh please! 

  • Chuihua

    You need to have at least the decency and integrity to research what Slutwalk is about before writing such a piece of misinformed, misogynistic article on your misunderstanding of Slutwalk.

    • Editor

      no dear, the article was about slutwalk. Not my misunderstanding of slutwalk – that would be your reply instead. 

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  • Chantalle

    this is the most ignorant, poorly researched article I’ve seen on slutwalk, the word slut, and what they symbolize in the modern feminist movement. poor work newnation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/j0ce1yn.te0 Jocelyn Teo

    shit writing at its best; the damn bowels of the internet.

    • fred

      and we found you here

  • Emilia

    I pray you didn’t get paid to write this article. You should be fired and publicly condemned.

  • C4a0s

    The author couldnt have said it better…

    true, some women despite not dressing provocatively, get targeted. But what about the majority who dress like sluts? Arent they dressing to get noticed by men? Or do u all ignorantly think that other straight women are attracted to another woman’s overflowing boobs and ass in tight jeans?

    to not be judged or raped despite of how u dress and/or behave/ look? come on!! would u wear a thick fat gold chain around your neck and show off your huge diamond ring in a poor neighbourhood/slum with high crime rates?

    besides, have u noticed that those feminists who are super vocal about this actually do not qualify to be called a slut?

  • uniwil

    do people know that newnation generally posts troll articles??? It’s abit like the onion

  • Miss C

    Normally I would just read shitty article and pity the poor author for his/her lack of intelligence. However in this case, I’m going to give you two thumbs up for the not horrible but plain ridiculous article you have written. First of all, the title of this article should be “Slutwalk: Who’s hot and who’s not”. Your article have no meaning whatsoever, instead of emphasizing on the contents of the event, the only thing you’re trying to say is how woman should not look while dressing scandalously.

    Please grow up and get your points straight before writing articles.

  • Mr udontneedtoknow

    whatever, as long as y’all want to dress like a slut, look like a slut, walk like a slut and act like a slut, you’ll never earn my/people’s respect. Moreover you don’t just simply demand respect from other people like that.

  • http://www.myqute.com/blog kelly

    I personally find the word “slut” degrading to women. Sexy is sensual, not slutty. A woman who intentionally breaks up the marriage of a man while he is still sharing the same bed with his wife, is a slut. Are we promoting wrong values?

    Couldn’t activists’ campaign names be in better taste? You wouldn’t name your baby Virgina XXX, would you? Or Penis XXXX? Campaign names are important.

    And why should women be dressed certain way before they are stereotyped as a slut? Are we teaching young ladies that we should be judged by our covers? God forbid that we should be purely judged by what we wear in public or in private.

    No, this campaign does nothing except to give the goodlooking ladies a chance to bare as much as they want and for some instant attention.

    My views were the same in 2011 and still the same now in 2014. My principles as a modern woman has not changed. Thanks for reading!

  • William Ledbetter

    Your sarcastic, insincere, and thoughtless article was a turgid and embarassing read. in the future, kindly direct your essay-writing skills to subject in which you either have some expertise, or are willing to do so empathetic research. The topic of violence against women and the fight women continue to make against patrimonial society (within which your article so coyly fits) is not a joking matter.