On a very basic level, one of the reasons I am involved with this movement is because I am offended by the idea that anyone has the right to judge me for the choices I make regarding my body. There are few domains over which we have complete control, and the notion that someone else feels they have the privilege to dictate how I express myself, effectively denying my agency, is utterly incongruent with my fundamental beliefs.
Before SlutWalk, the thought had never occurred to me that victim-blaming existed. If I were ever to be raped or attacked, the first thing I would have done is go to the police; the fact that the safety and justice present there is now called into question shakes me to the core. What kind of society chooses to magnify the suffering a survivor experiences by denying and vilifying them for their attack, and subsequently questioning their morality?
Constable Sanguinetti triggered action by stating “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” As a result, many of the individuals involved in this movement are attempting to “reclaim” (or more accurately co-opt) the word “slut.” However, this is a culturally constructed word laden with judgement and derision, and I’m not sure I believe this is necessarily an achievable or laudable goal. My SlutWalk works to educate society and bring awareness to the fact that this kind of language is inherently damaging.
Violence and sexuality are inevitably conflated in this movement, and it is my goal to find a means of untangling the two concepts. Unapologetic sexuality is something to be celebrated, however society seems to view this is an excuse to demonize women, and has constructed a population of rape apologists. Rape is an act of power and humiliation; a means of putting the survivor into their “proper place,” whereas sexuality is a beautiful expression of identity and intimacy. How our culture consistently manages to confuse these two ideas is incomprehensible to me.
My SlutWalk highlights the fact that no matter where our lives take us – marriage, queerness, sex work, or the nunnery – no one has the right to force their will onto ours. My agency deserves respect, and if someone violates it, then I deserve unconditional justice and support. The fact that a rape trial or investigation so frequently gets side-lined into scrutiny of the credibility of the survivor’s “goodness” and therefore “deservingness” of justice only highlights the entrenched cultural standards that continue to exist regarding female purity.
I would like to shift society’s focus to where it rightly should be: onto the behaviour of the attacker. There must be a cultural shift towards recognizing the mindset that blames the survivor for the supposed “provocation” of the rapist. We are *all* responsible for working to achieve this – cis-men, cis-women, queer folk, feminists, parents, members of the legal system etc. There are no “clumsy Don (or Donna) Juans,” and we all need to take ownership for the transformation of our current rape culture.