JESSE POWELL writes:
If you want to know what the real purpose behind SlutWalks is listen to what those who actually promote and organize the events have to say. A transcript of the first part of the speech given at the Boston SlutWalk by Jaclyn Friedman reads as follows:
Look at all these beautiful sluts! Look at you, you’re gorgeous, you’re gorgeous. Are you having an amazing day? How many of you are having an amazing day? But I do want to point out that I called you all sluts and I don’t know what any of you do with your private parts. That’s how the word slut usually works; if you have 10 people you get 10 different definitions. Is a slut a girl who has sex too young? With too many partners? With too little commitment? Who enjoys herself too much? Who ought to be more quite about it or more ashamed? Is a slut just a woman who dresses too blatantly to attract sexual attention? And what do any of those words even mean? What’s too young? Too many partners? Too little commitment? Too much enjoyment? Too blatant an outfit? For that matter, what’s a woman and does a slut have to be one? For a word with so little meaning it sure is a vicious weapon, and while the people who use it to hurt may not agree on what they mean by it they all do know one thing, and that is a slut is not them; a slut is someone, usually a woman, who stepped outside the very narrow lane that good girls are supposed to stay inside.
Notice how in this introductory part of the speech rape is never mentioned or even alluded to. The points being made in this introduction are that being a slut is admirable and fun; the sluts are “gorgeous” and they are having “an amazing day;” that all women are sluts; as she said, “I called you all sluts and I don’t know what any of you do with your private parts”; that the term “slut” is a meaningless term; that 10 different people will have 10 different definitions of what it means; and that the words used to define what a slut is don’t have any meaning in themselves; as she says, “And what do any of those words even mean?”
After Jaclyn Friedman makes her case that being a slut is admirable and fun, that all women are sluts, and that the term “slut” in itself has no intrinsic meaning, she then changes focus. What Friedman might call “slut shaming” is sexist; it’s usually applied to women; it’s a “vicious weapon” in the hands of “people who use it to hurt”; it is used by the arrogant and the chauvinistic, those who “all do know one thing, and that is a slut is not them;” it is used by those who seek to control and oppress women; it is applied to those women “who stepped outside the very narrow lane that good girls are supposed to stay inside.”
This says it all in terms of what the SlutWalk is really all about; it is about all women being sluts so that no woman is a slut, so that no negative consequences or stigma can be attached to the woman who chooses to act like a slut. Any man who doesn’t go along with this is a sexist, is an apologist and a friend of rapists, and wants to oppress and control women. Any woman who actively asserts that she herself is not a slut, thereby betraying the slut sisterhood, is arrogant and stuck up, obedient to the rules of being a “good girl” therefore acting as a tool of the patriarchy, and using a “vicious weapon” “to hurt” her erstwhile female competitors.
Looking at the phenomenon of the “SlutWalk” philosophically it is exactly what it appears to be and what the name “SlutWalk” itself suggests; it is a campaign by sluts to promote sluthood and sluttiness. The goal is for all women to become sluts so that no woman is perceived as a slut or treated as a slut. The shame of being a slut is meant to be universal; a stigma that all women carry, not just those who act like sluts. The goal of the slut walk is that all women be equal, that all women be sluts.
What this means for the culture at large is that the value and the virtue of being chaste is meant to be destroyed; women are meant to be deprived of the advantage and benefit that chastity gives them in the romantic marketplace; part of the skills necessary for men and women to be able to form healthy long lasting relationships with each other is meant to be discredited and forgotten. This is part of the process of the collapse of marriage and the ever growing romantic incompetence of men and women that leads to divorce, out-of-wedlock births, and decreasing fertility. Right before our eyes the romantic skills necessary for a healthy society are being willfully and intentionally destroyed; this is the true meaning and importance of the SlutWalk.
While I agree that there is this free-floating goal to denigrate virtue and modesty, I disagree that the purpose of these protests is simply to “promote sluthood and sluttiness.”
For some it is just about self-assertion and transgression. But the sexual assault issue is a major concern for many of the protesters and for the original organizers of the event. If you look at the interviews on this CNN piece, found here, most of the women talk about their anger that women are being blamed for rape. All this was inspired by the comments of the Toronto police officer, who said slutty clothes may make women less safe. On college campuses, there are cases of sexual assault in which the behavior of the victims are contributing factors. Students may be raped when they are drunk or half-undressed. These protestors are saying that shouldn’t matter. Their point in this regard is utterly unreasonable. It does matter what women do, but that does not mean women are to blame for most cases of sexual assault or that in every case of real sexual assault there is not a man who has committed a crime.
I think a general fear that many women feel, and a confusion as to what to do about it, motivates many of the protesters. Many women enjoy great freedom but are also often afraid. Very afraid. The fact is, we live in a dangerous world. But as a I said in the original post, the way women dress and behave creates a climate that is either indifferent to female safety or more protective of it. Women have to want to be protected. A woman who is dressed modestly and doesn’t behave like a slut is more likely to inspire the protectiveness of men, of those who are unlikely to ever committ sexual assault.
— Comments –
Jesse Powell writes:
Laura, you said “The sensible path for a woman in a dangerous world – and the sensible path for women collectively – is to earn the protection of good men. Protection is not a right, but a privilege.” You later say, “Good men don’t want to protect sluts. Why risk one’s life for a slut? Why care about a woman who is willing to give up nothing for you or for other decent men like you?”
When you said those words I believe your intentions were good; that you were trying to instill in women a sense of duty, a sense of gratefulness in women for the good that men do on their behalf, and to emphasize that one needs to treat others well if they expect to be treated well in return; however, I think the formulation and emphasis you chose was wrong.
Protection from rape is a right, not a privilege, and this right of women to be protected from rape is not dependent upon the woman’s good behavior or moral character; it is an intrinsic right that women possess simply based on their status as women. Protecting women from rape is part of the chivalrous ideal that men should “provide for and protect” women; it needs to be remembered that chivalry is not a reciprocal contract or dependent upon the good deeds or moral character of the woman, it is an expression of the man’s duty and moral character.
What I will say is that when women act slutty they do not lose or lessen their right to not be raped but they do lessen the societal capacity to protect them from rape. The right to not be raped remains but the ability to enforce this right of protection for women declines as women’s behavior becomes more out of control and promiscuous.
By “protection from rape,” I was not referring to police or court protection, but the ordinary, day-to-day protectiveness of men. The former are obviously rights, but the latter, the sort of concern that might be extended by a man, to walk a woman to her car or check on her if she lives alone or ward off a man who is bothering her in a dorm, these, in my mind, are privileges, things men are motivated to do because women are not acting with reckless abandon or aggressive self-assertion. I can see your argument that men should extend those privileges no matter what, but also can understand why chivalry does not come easily today.
James P. writes:
I disagree with Jesse Powell’s contention that the ideals of chivalry confer obligations only on men, and not on women — and in particular, that “Protecting women from rape is part of the chivalrous ideal that men should “provide for and protect” women; it needs to be remembered that chivalry is not a reciprocal contract or dependent upon the good deeds or moral character of the woman, it is an expression of the man’s duty and moral character.”
If by chivalry, he means medieval chivalry, this is absolutely not the case. Far from protecting lower-class women from rape, knights were expected to rape peasant women if these women did not submit to their advances. In medieval French poetry, the rape of peasant girls is recurringly represented as not merely acceptable but institutionalized and hilarious. Knightly protection was reserved for women of rank, i.e., ladies, and courtly love was, by definition, conducted between members of the nobility.
With respect to Victorian chivalry, Victorian men were expected to protect even lower-class women, but it makes no sense at all to hold modern men to the Victorian standard of manhood while exempting modern women from the Victorian standards of womanhood. If modern women are not pure, chaste, demurely dressed, and dependent on men, in accordance with the Victorian ideal, why should modern men protect them in accordance with the Victorian ideal? Modern feminists insist they are independent and need no protection even when dressed as sluts in the worst section of town — well, so be it!
I agreed with Laura completely when she said,
Women earn the protection of good men by dressing modestly, by recognizing the nature of masculinity, and by remaining faithful. Then their safety increases. Constable Michael Sanguinetti in Toronto was perhaps, without realizing it, articulating this truth. Good men don’t want to protect sluts. Why risk one’s life for a slut? Why care about a woman who is willing to give up nothing for you or for other decent men like you?
That expresses my own philosophy on the matter precisely.