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SlutWalk To Femicide: Know How They Connect?

The first SlutWalk was organized in India a little over a month ago, in the city of Delhi. It received a lot of flak from all quarters. Probably because people in India -- even the women's groups, did not get the basic idea of the SlutWalks. That's why in this article I explain why the fundamental concept of the SlutWalk addresses not only the sexual harassment and violence that women face on the streets of India on a daily basis, but why it is also relevant to India's ongoing mass femicide. http://thewip.net/contributors/2011/09/slutwalk_to_femicide_making_th.html

Comments

juliexuan's picture

Thanks for sharing Rita. Very

Thanks for sharing Rita. Very interesting to learn SlutWalk in an Indian context. I live in Toronto where slutwalk originated and I have to say that although I initially support the intent behind the demonstration, there is something about the glorification of a seriously sexist and derogatory term that still doesn't sit well with me. I completely understand your point about taking the power out of the word but I don't feel that SlutWalk was at all successful in doing this. From what I understand, the organizers strongly rejected the idea of feminism and in doing so indirectly reinstated many stereotypes about feminists being butch, angry, old women. Men all over Toronto were proclaiming how sick they were of feminists and how much they loved sluts. I seriously doubt they were using the word as a representation of powerful, independent women. While I agree with you as far as the importance of drawing attention to all of the issues you had mentioned, particularly in a country where rape is so rampant, I think we need to be cautious about how something like this is perceived. There was also a huge race-divide in the march in Toronto, with marchers being predominantly white and middle-class. These women are not at all representative of the majority of Canada's women, particularly those who are most at risk for sexual violence. We have to ask ourselves why this march only received support from a very specific privileged demographic.In my mind, despite good intentions and a catchy name, SlutWalk misses the mark by a long shot.

Rita Banerji's picture

Keeping it in context

First of all, I am not in Toronto -- so I do not know what the ramifications there may have been. 2) This article was in context of India -- and the walk here neither used the word 'slut' nor recommended that women dress down -- yet there were huge protests against it, and only 100 people attended. We have selectively eliminated 63 million women from the country. It is the largest genocide in human history. There are 163000 women murdered by their husbands and in-laws each year, who gang attack them and set them on fire -- the incidents that are so obscenely refereed to as 'dowry deaths' or 'bride-burnings' or 'dowry-problem.' This is what I consider seriously obscene, not a term like 'slut.' Would you flinch if someone called you a 'slut?' If you would -- then that is exactly what the global slutwalks are about. Why would you flinch? And is there a similar term you could call a man and make him flinch. 'Slut' is a word that's used like a weapon against women. And we need to neuter that weapon :-) 3) Of course men would hate feminists. They did that when women wanted the right to vote. They did that when women wanted birth control. They did that when women wanted equal opportunity at work. They did that when women demand equal pay! Look at any mass movement for equal rights on any platform -- not just gender, but race, religion, etc. People hated the black folks during the civil rights movement in the U.S. They burnt them alive inside buses for wanting to sit in the front seats reserved only for whites. It seems even Jackie Kennedy thought Martin Luther King was a horrible man (from the recently revealed tapes). But not all white people thought that way. There were many who understood the absolute need for racial equality in the U.S. and were a part of the civil rights fight. And similarly many men supported the slut-walks as they do the feminist movement! So I like to think we are on the right track over all :-)

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

juliexuan's picture

Hi Rita, thanks for your

Hi Rita, thanks for your response. I was in no way attempting to downplay the extreme injustices and genocides against women that are occurring in India and across the globe. My comment was intended to open a discussion on SlutWalk's aims and outcomes (whether planned or unplanned) in varying contexts and I think I was quite clear that I was offering my personal perspective in regards to the first SlutWalk in Toronto. While I agree that the atrocities faced by women in India are urgent issues, we should be careful not to neglect the power of the word slut, particularly in relevance to a march that began as a statement on just that. All forms of abuse against women are inexcusable and creating a scale of injustice is dangerous.You're right, there is no equivalent to the word slut for men due to a host of systemic factors, I don't deny this but I also don't think it should be the driving force behind the march. Even if there was an equally derogatory term for men, this would not make the word slut any less harmful. I think it's important that we understand the ramifications of this kind of a march in all of its contexts and that we keep open minds about ways we might evolve this relatively new campaign to be more inclusive and portray perhaps a clearer, stronger message.When articles like "SlutWalk: A Stroll Through White Supremacy" are being written (http://tothecurb.wordpress.com/), we MUST pay attention and start thinking critically about the structure and outcomes of such campaigns and how they are being perceived by all women in our communities and beyond. Your article was another excellent example of our need to do this. As far as your third point, of course there are many male feminists and women's rights activists and I don't see anything in my comment that denies this. I am however, profoundly uncomfortable with the fact that SlutWalk had so much support from men and women who simultaneously rejected feminist ideologies. Saying that the SlutWalk is not a feminist march separates it from the many historical feminist struggles that you have listed above. While I completely respect your views and learned a lot from your very poignant article, my personal opinion about the original intention behind SlutWalk in Toronto is that as a woman I will never, ever, be comfortable with a man calling me a slut, despite the seemingly empowering sentiment I may attempt to assign it.

Let's stick together and be open to ways of developing this march, that has gained so much attention, into something that unites us rather than divides us.

Julie

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