Why SlutWalk succeeds and fails

A SlutWalk protest in Toronto. Photo by Anton Bielousov  [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Alexander Suarez/Staff Writer

Reactionary movements are often in danger of missing the mark. In responding so adamantly, the founders and followers tend to lack careful thinking as to what problems they themselves might create.

On April 3, many students joined together at the University to partake in the popular movement that has been spreading throughout many states: SlutWalk.

Many participants, including the founders, consider these walks to be socially significant events in terms of bringing attention to what is known as “victim-blaming” in sexual assault cases. For example, in a 2011 gang rape case in Cleveland, Texas, the defense attorney blamed the victim for being seductive, like the spider is to the fly.

At first, the SlutWalk’s intentions don’t seem like a harmful thing at all.

The SlutWalk movement carries its desired goal by having the people march around a certain location bearing the name “slut.” The purpose in doing this is to communicate that just because someone dresses provocatively, this does not give another person the permission to sexually assault them. If someone wishes to have sexual relations with a woman, this person must receive consent from her before advancing. No excuses!

Certainly, I think SlutWalk does a fair job in communicating this message to its observers as well as their positive intentions. They also undoubtedly succeed in drawing attention to the cause. However, I have come to wonder who exactly the SlutWalk movement is trying to persuade.

Some might suggest that public officials, who may have an affinity to blame rape victims, are the ones the movement is meant to persuade and not the rapists themselves. Nevertheless, I think for the most part, what the officials will be persuaded about is to be careful with the language that they use.

The reason being, I think, is that the SlutWalk is communicating another message in their method. That is, that women should be able to wear anything they want whenever and wherever they want, no matter how promiscuous they might look. And even though she may be dressed in her panties and bra, a woman is not to be blamed, should it happen.

I agree that such a woman should not be raped nor deserves to be raped, as no one does. But just because I agree that the rapist is a criminal and should be punished by the law, I must say that this sort of reactionary thinking about women has some serious flaws. It can potentially lead women to think that they hold no responsibility at all in protecting themselves against criminals as well as potential criminals.

For example, you can be warned not to go walking late at night in a back alley somewhere because you might get robbed, but you still do it and get robbed. Did you deserve to get robbed? Of course not, but you could have possibly prevented it, although not for certain.

To say that a woman who dresses very provocatively doesn’t in some way put herself more at risk to some sick man who intends to assault her is to deny the real dangers of the world we live in and the dark conditions of the human heart. Not only that, but it denies the fact that some women’s clothing are explicitly intended to make them look more physically attractive and, ultimately, sexually attractive.

Remember, I am not saying that a woman should be raped. Instead, I am pointing out that there are sick men waiting to pounce on the first woman that catches their attention. It is not a matter of should or shouldn’t but what sadly is.

Rape should not be performed; it is without a doubt immoral. However, rape still happens, and that is what the SlutWalk movement fails to adequately address.

 

alex.suarez@fiusm.com 

 

Sources:

1. “Students gather to walk for a cause,”  via FIUSM.com

2. “Defense Attorney Blames 11-Year-Old Rape Victim Because That’s His Job,” via Slate

3 Comments on "Why SlutWalk succeeds and fails"

  1. This article highlights male privilege of the author. Alexander, you sound like an uneducated child trying to explain to a younger child with a gun that murder is wrong.

    As a survivor of sexual assault (that’s rape, which is – as you point out – bad m’kay), this article just highlights the need for events like SlutWalk to bring to the consciousness of society that when women are told not to act, dress, and be in certain geographical areas because guys have uncontrollable sexual drives is complete and utter crap. You’re perpetuating the stereotype that males cannot control their urges and desires. Can you? Do you? The isn’t problem, as you pointed out, one guy who may have the wrong intentions but society that claims it is inevitable.

    It is far from inevitable. It is completely preventable. We just need to make the people who commit acts of sexual assault complete owners of their horrendous actions and society as a whole not find ANY excuses for them.

    • GeekyGabby,

      I am sorry to hear that you have been sexually assaulted as no should be.

      However, I am not saying there is a possible defensible excuse to say it’s okay to sexually assault someone. I tried to make that really clear by stating it more than once.

      Our common enemy is rape or sexual assaults.

      1) I think our difference lies in the way we see ourselves, the world, and affecting change in it.
      You believe that by telling everyone that hears, it is not okay to sexually assault anyone, will bring change in the world and a drop in sexual assaults. That in itself (aside from dressing provocatively) is a fair and I think honorable goal and activity.I think that it would effect some people (and thus prevent some sexual assaults) but not completely eradicate it as you state: “completely preventable”. I think to say you rid the world of sexual assaults is a bit of an optimistic view of mankind. I think it denies the messed up world that we live in and the dark conditions of the human heart.

      Simply saying something is wrong, does not give one the power to actually do what is right, let alone make someone care that it is wrong.

      2) The other problem I see is that you also think that women should (in this world in the already known conditions) wear whatever they want and not worry about possible sexual predators.

      I think this denies the effect that the sexual nature of our bodies has on the opposite sex. For example, most men who look at Playboy or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, don’t look at it without a desire to have some sexual contact with those women. If they did not intend on creating desire, most men will soon find sexual desire within themselves. To tell a guy to look at it without sexual desire seems almost impossible, because that is what these images are intended to do. To say otherwise, denies the sexual nature of our bodies.

      Now you may object and say that though they have these feelings they should control themselves and not actually throw themselves on someone without the other person’s consent. This I agree.

      However, I think there are men who do not care that their actions are wrong if it brings sexual fulfillment. There are husbands who abuse their wives sexually with no care that it is wrong. All he cares about is sexual gratification. And so do many rapists who don’t care what you say as long as your looking extra attractive for them.

      Now if he is found out, and gotten in trouble with the authorities, that is a different story.

      (Remember I am not saying this is right. I am just trying to describe what is.)

      Upon further reflection, if SlutWalk is effective in someway I think maybe it is effective in letting women know that what that person did was wrong. And once they realize it is wrong, they can speak up about it.

      But even then, I don’t think it right, marching around scantily dressed saying that even though you are dressed that way no one should assault you. The statement is correct but it doesn’t deal with the reality of perverted men who don’t care what you say, only what you look like.

      Hope what I have said is helpful in clarifying my position.

    • Beyond amazing response, right on point. Kudos.

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