Friday, May 27, 2011

"Sl*twalk"... another point of view

image is from here
The poor people in my family don't walk down the street claiming they are the negative stereotypes rich people assume about them. Their dignity and desire not to participate in their own oppression in such a way is too great for them to do that. The people of color I know well, both women and men, don't walk through the street calling themselves the terms whites hurl at them. Only some structurally privileged women want to publicly use misogynist terms, like "dyke" and "sl*t", and "b*tch". It's part of an anti-radical tactic sometimes called "reclamation". I have lived my adult life using the term "dyke" positively. But I get how that is a race-, gender-, region-, language-, and class-privileged experience to be able to do so.

I'm not comfortable with the term "sl*twalk" being promoted as liberatory or pro-woman as it strikes me as deeply discriminatory against the most poor and otherwise marginalised women who do not have the status to embrace terms like "sl*t" as empowering or part of a liberation movement. The reclamation of oppressive, dehumanising terms--the terms men use to insult and degrade women in an anti-woman society--is not part of my political program, and I don't support it. There are other problems too. Such as trying to salvage a term that describes an idea about a kind of person that is linguistically so culturally relative that to embrace it is to continue to support or "reclaim" the particular anglo-patriarchal cultures in which the term exists, such as those in North America. It's not exactly that all women within a society are oppressing themselves by using those terms; it's that they are oppressing other women.

Ageism: the term conjures a gross stereotype of some women of some ages, none of whom are "sl*ts".

Ableism: the term assumes people walk. Many women do not.

Racism and classism: it is disproportionately race- and class-privileged women who assume that reclaiming misogynist terms and behaviors is empowering to ALL women. It isn't.

Sexism and misogyny: the term is one of the most virulently anti-woman, sexually oppressive terms in the English language.

Heterosexism: the term is generally used against women who are choosing to be sexually available to men, within whatever limited options, with strict codes of compulsory heterosexuality in place. Many women are not choosing to be sexually available to men. And the term invisibilises those women.

The term participates in many other forms of exclusion, discrimination, and marginalisation. Such is the case when privileged few try and show up whenever efforts are made by privileged people to reclaim the terms that are used by men against many multiply disadvantaged, discriminated against women.

I was glad to read this excerpt from another blog, but not for the racism, ethnic insensitivity, and other forms of oppressive privilege on the part of some whites, which result in the need for it to be written at all. Please click on the links below the quoted passage. What follows is something I read over at The Angry Black Woman blog *here*. With thanks to her and also to the author of this writing, Mehreen Kasana.
“As a Muslim feminist woman of color, I cannot relate to Slutwalks as it caters mostly to the definition of emancipation set by white women. Slutwalks deviate in terms of delivering the message against sexual assault. It turns a blind eye to women of cultures where flimsy clothes don’t necessarily lead to rapes. Muslim women get raped too. Nassim Elbardouh is right. “Do Not Rape” Walk sounds better. This isn’t to say that I don’t support Slutwalks. I simply can’t relate to a liberating movement that does not liberate nor acknowledge me. Western feminism, despite its undeniable achievements, still perpetuates the image of a white woman as the liberated one. If these feminists do claim to represent all women, they need to understand the dynamics of the cultures other women hail from. Don’t care if you’re wearing a thong or burka, no one has the right to rape you. Burka clad brown Muslim women get raped too. Represent us. I want a movement that represents me regardless of my color and creed. End victim blaming and rape culture by representing everyone.”

Mehreen Kasana  (via intoxicatedspirit)

30 May 2011 UPDATE: Please also see this:
'SlutWalk completely ignores the way institutional violence is leveled against women of color ... and it wont strip the word “slut” from its hateful meaning. The n-word, for example, is still used to dehumanize black folks, regardless of how many use it among themselves. If SW has proven anything, it is that liberal white women are perfectly comfortable parading their privilege...& ignoring women of color.'


ChildfreeSoulSista said...

Turd Wave Sex Pozis are so embarrassing. Unfortunately a Slut Walk will be coming to my city in this summer.

Julian Real said...

Hi ChildfreeSoulSista,

I hope there will be people there to protest it for all the most responsible reasons.

And that you won't have to endure it being too nearby.