to slut, or not to slut?

I’ve been reading some eye-opening stuff about reclaiming the word “slut”

From the blog Something of Something Other:

“And, don’t get me wrong, I can’t possibly bring myself to give a shit about whether or not you consider yourself a slut. But I can tell you that I am no less of a survivor for wanting to keep my distance from such a term. Because slut is something that I internalized in a way that I could never internalize “stupid,” or “cunt,” or “dyke.” It didn’t mean anything to me, except that I was irredeemably available for sexual violence. “Slut,” to me, will always be a rape threat…

[Jaclyn] Friedman addressed a group of survivors with “well hello you beautiful sluts!” but all of us who would have felt threatened already knew not to be there that day (fittingly, if I wanted to be called a slut, I could just hang around at home). It’s frustrating, and a little exclusionary. I mean, maybe if every Saturday a group of survivors got together and demanded an end to rape culture, I could be okay with SlutWalk. I wouldn’t go. But I would be okay with it. But the fact that I apparently have to “reclaim” a word that I’ve been fighting my whole life to escape if I want to be part of the one response to a dipshit rape apologist who is furthering oppression that I–and every rape survivor too triggered for SlutWalk–suffer from is inexcusable. Demanding that we call ourselves sluts or just shut the fuck up is what rape culture looks like”

The whole entry is here:

http://somewhatofsomethingother.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/i-am-not-a-slut-so-i-didnt-go-to-slutwalk/

I use the word slut to describe myself, and with friends who I know are comfortable with and appreciate it, but I’m appalled that Friedman would use it to address a group of survivors. Reclaiming a pejorative word is sticky business, and folks like myself must keep in mind that this word can be triggering.

{{I think that many people have very legitimate critiques of reclaiming “slut” and SlutWalks but that there is also a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about SlutWalks in general. Misconceptions cleared here at: http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2011/05/answering-slutwalk-faqs.html}}

What I would add to all this dialogue, is at the end of the day, this is really about ending victim blaming, which is something many people can get behind. I really admire Harsha Walia’s complex take on the SlutWalks, and how the term can be different for women of color.

“On the use of the term ‘slut’ itself, while I appreciate that others feel differently and there is an argument to be made about transgressing the social boundaries defined by the term ‘slut’, I personally don’t feel the whole ‘reclaim slut’ thing. I find that the term disproportionately impacts women of colour and poor women in order to reinforce their status as inherently dirty and second-class, and hence more rape-able. The history of genocide against Indigenous women, the enslavement of Black women, and the forced sterilization of poor women goes beyond their attire. It is a means of gender control that is embedded within the intersecting processes of racism and colonialism. As long-term activists with Incite Women of Color have pointed out, the experience of women of colour with violence and victim-blaming is not only quantitatively different (i.e. increased) but is also qualitatively different”

But Walia ends her critique by saying that despite all this, she did march in the Vancouver SlutWalk because she stands against victim-blaming.

“Even though I did not march under the banner of ‘sluthood’, I marched to mark the unceded territory of women’s bodies. I marched because language is a weapon yielded against the powerless. I marched because rapists causes rape and sexual assault can never be justified. I marched to end the policing of women by other women. I marched because that day, though understandable, I happened to be tired of the Left ruthlessly eating itself alive. I marched in defiance of right-wing pundits like Margaret Wente to make visible the staggering reality of rape and violence against all women in so-called civilized countries like Canada.”

What a badass!! Her full post, via feministing, is here: http://feministing.com/2011/05/18/slutwalk-to-march-or-not-to-march/

So should I retitle the blog? I would seriously consider it, especially since I shaved my legs yesterday, and thus I am (unfortunately) significantly less hairy. But due to the fact that this is basically an online journal  and no one else is reading this, I don’t think its necessary. I’m still mulling all of this beautiful stuff over.

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