A couple days ago, Tara sent out an email to Mislabeled about the recent SlutWalk being organized in India, which Kelsey quickly followed with an opinion piece stating that “SlutWalk is repulsive not simply because it’s misguided.”
Women shouldn’t dress like “sluts” not only because it’s foolish, but more importantly, because it undermines so many of the educational and professional accomplishments women have made in recent decades and redirects the conversation back to women’s bodies.
The following debate ensued…..
Rachel: This is a really interesting thing, but I think it speaks to the complexities and number of issues feminism touches on. YES, we want to be taken seriously. YES, we want to be more than our looks.
But those are separate issues from rape and consent, and I think that’s a point the author misses. I don’t think SlutWalk really is the best way to talk about consent, but it is definitely getting the conversation going, and you know I just LOVEEEE conversations.
Kelsey: Lol yeah… Actually, thinking about it objectively, I think SlutWalk is a poor tactic just because it is so easily dismissed as radical lefty propaganda. It turns the conversation to whether women should or should not reclaim the word “slut” instead of sending a clear message that what a woman wears has nothing to do with whether she has given you consent. I imagine that participating in a SlutWalk as a woman would certainly be empowering, but from a broader perspective, the message it sends is more ratifying to its audience than anything else.
And notice the similarity in argument here as the bar scenario. [Ed note: a “Let’s Discuss” feature on ladies in bars is coming up next week…] It’s a fine line. Yeah if I’m walking around naked/drunk I’m not consenting to have sex with you, but at the same time it’s pretty obvious that I have a higher likelihood of being taken advantage of than if I were sober and “covered up.” So there’s got to be an element of responsibility and personal choice in this debate.
Rachel: Yes, and I think those need to be a part of the conversation (choice and personal responsibility)…. The hard part of that is you get crazy people saying scantily clad ladies get raped more (not true) and they put all the responsibility (read:blame) on the woman. We cannot let that happen, and that’s what makes it so difficult to even bring up personal choice. It gives the crazies too much ground to say the victim is at fault.
Kelsey: I haven’t heard of any research on the correlation (or lack thereof) between clothing choices and incidence of sexual assault — would be very interested in seeing it if it does exist — BUT I know there have been studies of the relationship between alcohol consumption and sexual violence (by both the victim and perpetrator).
Bottom line — I don’t think it’s “crazy” to recognize women’s cognitive abilities to make responsible choices. That doesn’t condone the abhorrent behavior of sexual predators or misogynistic frat culture, but shouldn’t part of women’s empowerment be learning that you can choose whether or not to participate (to some degree)?
Those college boys can only have competitions like that because some girls agree to get up on the bar and deep throat popsicles, [Ed note: again, teaser for next week…] but what happens when no one is willing to do that anymore? Fun’s over.
To be fair to the nature of women’s choice, I also know that there are lots of girls out there who WANT to participate in those competitions — and possibly get banged out vacation-style — and to them I say GO FOR IT! But to those who are horrified/embarrassed/etc. by those competitions I say STICK IT TO THE MAN. Show him you ain’t that kinda girl and hang out with the types of people in the types of places that will accept and respect that about you.
But what if you’re the one who WANTS to deep throat popsicles and WANTS to get so drunk that you can’t give consent but DOESN’T WANT to be made out with on the dance floor or be taken home? Then what? Should you have to sacrifice your fun because stupid boys can’t keep their hands to themselves? I don’t know what to really say about that.
Readers: Your thoughts, as always, are welcome…..