Slut Walk

For those of you who do not know, Slut Walk is an anti rape protest movement that is aimed at destygmatising rape, asserting power and changing cultural attitudes towards sexual assault. It is particularly concerned with changing the attitude that women somehow have to protect themselves from rape and that it could be their fault that they were raped: that women who wear short skirts, show cleavage or wear something ‘slutty’ may somehow be ‘asking for it’.

As a sexual assault survivor, the parent of two young girls and a person who is aware of many of the predominant approaches and belief systems around rape held by many men, as well as someone who has been groped in a bar because of what I choose to wear, I am deeply interested in this issue on a number of different levels. I was therefore very eager to do this year’s Slut Walk, for myself, for my daughters and for society in general.

I initially thought that it would be a good opportunity for the transgender community to get out and show some solidarity with other women, but this did not work out. I am not sure why the more ‘out’ people were unwilling to come along, but I fully get that the more closeted people would feel that walking down the main street would be a step too far. Perhaps I just did not market the event properly to my circle?

Anyway a friend of mine Anna (you really should follow her on Twitter: @Scumezza) and I decided that we would participate. She invited another friend along and we were going to meet early and take part in a silent protest along the route. Unfortunately my baby sitting plans collapsed at the last minute and I arrived too late for the silent protest. I did however arrive just on time to drop off my donation before heading out on the march.

The march was a very good experience. It was well marshaled by a local motorcycle club who kept us safe from traffic and kept all the stragglers moving. They were quite interesting as in addition to their biker jackets they were either wearing tutus or just their underwear below the waist. I think they especially enjoyed being able to drive up the wrong side of the road, rev their engines and generally not have to follow any road rules in the name of a good cause!  I met Anna and her friend half way along the route (they did the silent protest) and it was nice to have some people to talk to. As far as I could tell, I was the only transgender person there although there were one or two men who were wearing skirts in solidarity with women. I wouldn’t say they were ‘crossdressers’ though. Anna and I had a good natter (more of that in another post) whilst walking.

slutwalkgreenside17sept2016
Me in the white skirt, with the less than tanned legs, moving against the flow in order to reach Anna.

The march brought a number of emotions to the fore for me and I think it left me feeling more empowered and at peace than I was when I started. It was wonderful to see so many women assert their power.

I wish more people were exposed to this way of thinking. Too many people give girls the message that they need to be careful and take measures to avoid rape without considering the damage that this does. Boys are seldom if ever told not to rape women, I suppose because many of us feel that this should be a given, but clearly it is not. Far too many women are raped by men whose parents obviously thought they would never commit rape. Also, I have realised, even if we (as parents) in good conscience tell our daughters to be careful, not walk alone, wear modest clothing etc the unconscious message that is received (in addition to the notion that they may somehow be responsible for any sexual assault they may experience) is that the world is a dangerous place, that they need to live in fear. Boys seldom get that message and this may explain why men are often more confident, assertive and adventurous than many women. This may go some way to explaining (in addition to the obvious sexism at play) why women ask for raises less, earn less and are considered somehow less worthy than similarly qualified and effective men. It also almost certainly explains why so few rapes get reported: if you have been told that the the world is a scary place and that you may be responsible in some way for the assault you have experienced, why would you tell someone in authority? The chances are things will just get worse, especially if you are unable to confidently say what happened! Parents, thinking that they are doing the right thing, are making women scared and anxious of the world around them. This makes them more vulnerable to everyday sexism, sexual assault and in turn perpetuates the cycle of violence. We as a society are enabling the rapist more than we are empowering the survivors!

We should all continuously remind everyone that rape is only ever the fault of the rapist. You are not to blame because you got raped. Parents need to stop filling their girls with fear and assuming that their boys are incapable of such a crime. The data shows that the overwhelming majority of rapists are men. Let’s make our girls into more assertive and confident women. Let’s stop shaming and blaming people who get raped. Let’s as a society be more concerned with stopping rapists than we are with explaining their behaviour away. Maybe if ore women were more confident and assertive, more rapes would be reported, more rapists would be convicted, there would be fewer excuses made and we would all be safer and happier.

 

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feminism, gender, Politics

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Rosario Castellanos de Parker ..

Latino Writer, Journalism, Blogger, Human & Civil Rights Activist, Bilingual Communication - Spanish Executive Director, Research, International Law Advocate, Criminal Justice, International Government Advisor and Self Employed.

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