Video: “Slut Walks and Modern Feminism”

7 May

[Trigger warning for discussion of sexual violence and pornography.]

File this in the overflowing drawer marked “Gail Dines BRINGS IT”.

The video wouldn’t embed, so go watch the 35-minute program on the website for “The Agenda”.

Here’s just a few of my thoughts on Slut Walk and the video:

- Slut is a construct made up by males in order to demean women. Sluts do not exist. You can’t reclaim a word that was never yours to begin with.

-Jaclyn says that slut walk sends the message that “if you call one of us a slut, you have to call all of us sluts”. Yeah. MEN ALREADY DO THAT. They call all of us sluts because that is what most men thing of women.

-The interviewer’s framing is odd at times, and it seems that the pro-slut-walk guests are incorrectly understanding what Gail meant when she brought up male sexuality. She’s talking about porn culture, something that really hasn’t been confronted by liberal feminists.

-Finally, as a younger feminist who is a victim/survivor and who has been harmed by pornography, Gail Dines does speak for me.

[Updated May 10, 2011 to add the following additional comments:]

This whole thing is just so bizarre. I mean, totally in keeping with liberal feminist sex-pozerism, but really… you’re actually calling it a Slut Walk? I was thinking today about what Suzanna Walters says in her “From Here to Queer” article about reclaiming language. Could you imagine something like a “Nigger Walk”, “Kike Walk”, or even “Faggot Walk”? Allies welcome to join! Ugg.

I’m absolutely puzzled as to why the response here to being called a slut is, “Yup, we are exactly what you say we are! You’re right. Women ARE sluts!” As if the police or dudes give ONE shit about your ‘nuance’.

14 Responses to “Video: “Slut Walks and Modern Feminism””

  1. dubsh May 8, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    Ugh, when the founder talked about calling women “survivors” instead of victims of sexual assault as a positive change and a reclaiming of the “agency” of women I wanted to vomit. Sorry, I didn’t have any agency in my rape!
    This funfem shit about agency and reclaiming words and “surviving” just serves to erase the fact that women are victims. And denying our victimization only serves those who systematically rape us.

    • lishra May 8, 2011 at 2:24 am #

      Totally agree. “Victim” isn’t an identity, it’s a word that shows that someone has violated you in some way. The liberal feminist obsession with ‘survivor’ is all about their parallel obsession with turning everything into identity categories.

      The whole ‘survivor’ thing also takes away the fact that there are indeed men who are victimizing women, as you said. It makes it sound like, “Hey, it’s not so bad. I’m not all weepy and unstable like those victims over there… I’m survivin’!”

      Thank you for your comment : )

      • dubsh May 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

        Yes, for sure- I think it’s also about forcing women to shut up about the things men to to us. It’s like, if you say repeatedly that you are a victim of rape, then people act like you’re obsessed with it and need to “move on”. When women start talking about survival, it takes the focus off the fact that MEN are raping/killing/abusing women. It’s like news that reads “A woman was raped and killed…” and not “A man raped and killed a woman”.

  2. lishra May 8, 2011 at 2:32 am #

    And just a bit more on the survivor/victim thing…. back when I was just dabbling in feminism, I thought the whole “you’re not a victim, you’re a survivor!” thing was silly just because, ya know, are you still “surviving” when you’ve got PTSD and/or are harming yourself (self-mutilation, alcohol/drug abuse)? What if a woman literally does not survive an assault? Woops, guess she just was a poor little victim then. What if, because of the trauma, a woman eventually kills herself? Sorry, you weren’t a survivor after all! Failure! I definitely take the ‘survivor’ thing more literally.

    I don’t care much about what word a woman uses to define her own experience, but I do have a problem with the insistence on survivor-hood as some type of end goal that you are strongly encouraged to eventually identify with.

  3. lishra May 8, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    And another thought! : ) So this same group of “don’t call me victim, I’m a survivor!” feminists is more or less the same group that says “I’m exactly what you call me – a slut!” Seriously… the cognitive dissonance with these folks…

  4. Miska May 8, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    The thing I hate about the term “survivor” is that in normal conversation its usually used for some random calamity:

    “Im a survivor of the train crash”
    “Im a survivor of the earthquake”

    But rape isnt a random calamity. It’s something men CHOOSE to do to women.

    Also victims of other violent crimes arent called survivors. We dont say someone was a survivor of a mugging. We say they were a victim.

    • Jilla May 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      A feminist, somewhere, some time in a related context (from which she too had “survived”) snarkily said she always wanted to ask “from when do you date your survival?” It’s such pat speak to make us think nothing’s happened to us, and even if it did, get over it eh?

  5. nuclearnight May 8, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Interesting discussion here. I call myself a survivor but I’d really rather not label myself based on the fact that I survived childhood sexual abuse and rape in adulthood when its so fucking prevalent. When its so common and theres so many different kinds of women with different mentalities that have been through this its odd to just lump us all into survivor vs victim.

    I really hate the idea that I’m reclaiming mah agency by calling myself a survivor, no, I’m just letting it out there to the sexist fucks that they can’t use my trauma to abuse me further because I can withstand far more than their words and still be fierce.

  6. FAB Libber May 8, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    I noticed too, in the pictures I have seen from some of the SlutWalks, that the message is mixed and incoherent. Varying from “I’m a slut, don’t rape me” to “Enjoying sex does not mean inviting violence”.

    Overall, they are trying to ‘reclaim’ slut, and insisting they are sluts (and willing to say yes apparently). Unfortunately, they dudes who do the raping ALREADY think all YW are ‘worthless sluts’, so the SW in no way counters the widely held male belief.

    They are wasting their time. Hope they had a nice outing though, so that it wasn’t a total loss.

    How about the simple but clear “No woman is a slut”?

  7. octagon surgeon May 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    “Jaclyn says that slut walk sends the message that “if you call one of us a slut, you have to call all of us sluts”. Yeah. MEN ALREADY DO THAT. They call all of us sluts because that is what most men thing of women.”

    YES. As Gail Dines says, “You’ve got the good girls and the bad girls in pornography and the message is you just scratch a good girl and you’ve got a bad girl who’s really a slut.” Men *already believe all women to be sluts, deep down.* This walk isn’t challenging ANY male assumptions about the NATURE of women, it’s reaffirming them. My misogynistic cousin ‘liked’ the Slutwalk page on Facebook, and he’s said before, “oh, I love sluts.” That should be an indicator of how successful this effort is.

  8. pmsrhino May 9, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    Seriously, I love Gail Dines. I hate the fact that she seems to be so vilified, even in the feminist community. Hell, even Susannah, who seemed to be on Gail’s side in the debate, felt the need to state that she was surprised she would agree with Gail and seemed almost embarrassed that she did. I honestly think this it’s just because Gail is so UNCOMPROMISING with her views, which is the main reason I love her. She doesn’t go, “Porn is harmful to women. Well, not all porn, there can be good porn and yeah porn can be empowering but seriously there’s an issue with porn.” She has her convictions and I think she is pretty much spot on with everything. Totally have much love for her.

    And I actually laughed out loud when Jaclyn and Heather (?) said that it was a MINORITY of men who rape and just ONE bad apple in the police force that thinks women are asking to be raped. I’m sorry? A minority? Are we only counting “rape-rape”? Because I’m pretty sure it’s a MAJORITY of men who rape and sexually assault women, not about 20 or so who just rape every woman in their community. I also can’t believe they insinuated that these rapists were just sociopaths and not normal, everyday men. Rapists are our neighbors, our co-workers, our father and brothers. Why the hell are they pushing this image of the rapists as the serial killer hiding in the bush?! And I’m pretty sure it’s a MAJORITY of police officers who make women feel unsafe about reporting their assaults. I mean, seriously, what the hell? Again, I love Gail for pointing out at least the ridiculousness about the one bad police officer.

    Also love how everyone completely ignored the race and class issues Gail kept bringing up. Susannah KIND of touched on it when she said at the end she thought this was just something a bunch of bored, college, woman’s studies students came up with. Really, the feminist movement has been highjacked by middle class, white women and this does matter because what is good for middle class, white women is pretty much not going to help those who are poor or not white. How do they not think that their privilege has nothing to do with the fact that they think reclaiming the word “slut” is okay and empowering? And I really wished they’d mentioned more on how the men act on these walks. Maybe they didn’t say much about it because they knew it wouldn’t sound very good? Somehow I can’t imagine there weren’t men walking by the women marching or more men than just supportive dads and husbands in the group…

    And I second the comments on “victim” v. “survivor.” It does insinuate that, as a survivor, rape is some sort of event that just happens to you and not an act forcibly pushed upon you by another person who has all the agency and choice in the situation. Indeed, we would never insist or urge that victims of muggings or beatings call themselves survivors instead of victims. It’s not a matter of how women want to define themselves, it’s a matter of pushing that word on women who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Why do these women get to decide that I’m a “survivor” and not a “victim” just because it makes them feel better to call themselves “survivors?”

    Thanks for the video, Lishra! :)

  9. womononajourney May 9, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Thanks for posting this, Lishra.

    I hate to see womyn argue in public settings like this; it gives in to the catfight stereotype of women. Yet I also hope women who intuitively know there is something wrong with the slut label will see this and feel so much better upon hearing Gail’s words.

    In middle school, I can recall being told I should not even associate with certain women because they were “sluts.” Essentially, they were socially contaminated and if I didn’t want the contamination, I was to stay the fuck away. Gail is right when she says it’s a very privileged position to say you can reclaim the word slut; for some women, it ruins their lives.

    Oh, I plan to go to the slut march when it comes to my town and see how many men are sitting in coffee shops leering. I also want to leave anti-slut, pro-womon, literature. Any idea what I could leave?

  10. lishra May 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Thanks for your comments, everyone!

    I updated the post to add more comments. This crap is really starting to piss me off, especially because it’s turning into a bash-Gail-Dines-a-thon in some corners of the internet. I’ve also done a new link roundup focusing just on the radical feminism blogosphere response to Slut Walk. Ah, refreshing : )

  11. pmsrhino May 11, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    Dunno why I didn’t see this sooner, but the whole slut walk thing totally reminds me of a scene with Randall in Clerks 2 (the main part of the scene starts at about 1:55 if you wanna skip to the meat of it).

    Randall, of course, being the people who think that you can actually take back a loaded, sexist term like ‘slut’ and Dante being the usual voice of reason.

    Randall: “It’s okay, I’m taking it back.”

    Indeed.

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