Slut Walk

17 May

Ellie Hutchinson

This has been a week of furious inter-feminist debating, which has been both important and disappointing. Important because discussions around language, victim blaming and solidarity are.. well they’re just important. Disappointing because what started as healthy debate is in danger of becoming a tad thought policey. Having read A LOT of blogs about Slut Walk last week, the discussion has slipped into “straight women who shave their legs” vs “older radfems who hate young women” (not my words).

Feminism isn’t a church of dogma and control, where we all turn up stoney faced to mime words we don’t believe and nod along to sermons that haven’t changed in 2000 years. If anything, it’s a day out in the park. We can all enjoy the lovely weather, have a tasty M&S picnic and have a wee catch up about how much we miss The Only Way is Essex, but we can’t tell other people to keep away from the pond or to turn that bleeding racket down. Terrible middle class metaphors aside, I didn’t come to feminism to be told how to think. I came to tell other people how to think. (Jokes!)
But for reals, there is an inherent paradox within feminism. We want everyone to be free, but we think they should be free like this/that/the other*.

Since we stopped thinking that mostly white, mostly western, mostly middle class women should speak on behalf of all the wimmins, feminism has been busy prompting questions. It stopped trying to provide answers because millions of individuals are not going to think the same thing. Yay! But the problem with just asking questions? We’re not always going to like the answers. Boo!

Full of paradox (paradices?) feminism is a wonderful, complex, difficult and challenging movement. And this is definitely something we should embrace. Hearing various feminists row on the radio or in the papers does nothing. It doesn’t get people interested in equality, it doesn’t prompt any questions, it does absolutely bugger all and whilst we’re busy telling each other that we’re outdated/not feminist enough we’ve forgotten to ask the most important question. What do the general public think?

So, let’s try and have a nice day out. Have a Pimms, maybe a game of rounders and try to resist the temptation to tell each other to fuck off. In public at least.

*Yes, there is an irony to writing a post about how we should behave whilst criticising the thought police.

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3 Responses to “Slut Walk”

  1. Jacq May 17, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    This article – particularly towards the end – reminds me very much of a Johann Hari piece I read earlier on today. It contains the following line:

    “Yes, I would like to see my dead friends and relatives again. I also would like there to be world peace, a million dollars in my checking account, and for Matt Damon to ask me to marry him. If I took my longing as proof they were going to happen, you’d think I was deranged.”

    This is not to say that I think you are deranged of course – but I don’t think that feminism actually exists in practice – certainly not in many feminist groups. Your last line in particular made me smile.

    “Yes, there is an irony to writing a post about how we should behave whilst criticising the thought police.” – this has been one of my main experiences of many feminists. Especially the “You weren’t there in the 70s” variety.

  2. fifi May 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I am oscillating between thinking this is hilarious and really sad…why not be happy that lots of people are rightly outraged that people think clothing is the reason why men rape? why not use this positive energy as a catalyst for some good. sometimes people just don’t recognise herds of gift horses galloping towards or in this case past them.

  3. Webbo May 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    As a chap, and somebody that tends to be a bit fairweather about political matters (in that I don’t often pay particular attention to anything that doesn’t effect me directly) I would say that, in-house squabbling aside, the whole thing seems to have been a great success as far as raising awareness is concerned. I have been hearing about slutwalk from several different sources over the last couple of weeks, and surely this is one of the main aims of the event? To be discussed by people, especially those that would otherwise not have heard of it..?

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