Slutwalk turns heads


by Rumbold
12th June, 2011 at 9:58 pm    

Yesterday saw the London march of the now worldwide campaign known as Slutwalk. The movement began in Canada after a police officer speaking about rape told an audience that they should avoid dressing like ‘sluts’ if they didn’t want to get raped. The was a lot of talk about the march being about reclaiming the word ‘slut’, but the vast majority of people were there to simply reassert something that should be patently obvious: that rape is the fault of the rapist, not the victim, and that a woman (or man) should be able to wear what they want without being sexually assaulted.

Many women on the march were dressed in a revealing way to try and hammer home this point; that it is their choice, not anyone else’s. The protest saw a good number of men turn up too, with some dressed in bras and short skirts in solidarity with the female marchers. It was gratifying to see the media give the protest so much attention, though that was probably more to do with the photo and video opportunities afforded than anything else.

The Socialist Workers’ Party attempted to hijack the march by handing out placards with their name on it, but nobody seemed to be paying much attention to them. Given that they only recently formed part of a woman-hating coalition (with Respect), perhaps this was an attempt to make amends. Most surreal was the builders who stopped to watch the march, perhaps feeling unable to wolf whistle whilst they clutched their Starbucks frappuccinos.

The march finished with speeches in Trafalgar Square, the best one being (in my opinion), by a prostitute who spoke about the brutality of her work and the dangers of criminalising either prostitute or seller, as it would drive the practice underground.

Given the huge levels of domestic violence still prevalent in this country, and repeated incompetence in dealing with it, my thanks go to the organisers for helping ensure that this event took place.


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Filed in: Events,Moral police,Sex equality






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  1. Shelly — on 12th June, 2011 at 10:06 pm  

    The prostitute who spoke yesterday is Sheila Farmer and you can help stop her prosecution here: http://www.prostitutescollective.net/Sheila_Farmer_Action_Alert.htm

  2. Trofim — on 13th June, 2011 at 8:04 am  

    Did they walk through areas with a high Muslim population?

  3. ukliberty — on 13th June, 2011 at 9:33 am  

    I think the best slogan was “It’s a dress not a yes”.

  4. Rumbold — on 13th June, 2011 at 9:44 am  

    Thanks Shelley. I didn’t catch her second name.

    ukliberty:

    I liked that one too.

  5. skidmarx — on 13th June, 2011 at 11:35 am  

    Presumably, those SWP placards were very similar to these ones from Glasgow. If there is nothing objectionable about the message on the placards, perhaps “It was nice to see…” would have been a more inclusive way to start your third paragraph.

  6. damon — on 13th June, 2011 at 11:51 am  

    Hmmmm, yes and no to this event. There is obviously that feminist constituency that wants to hold these kinds of marches. The ”Reclaim the Night” and Take back the Night marches having been long established all over the English speaking world.

    I got into a terrible row on a left-wing forum a couple of years ago when I critiscised the marches, as sure enough, one of the women on it had been a victim of sexual assault and she and her friends laid into me.

    But still, ”Slutwalks” – over a quip made by a Canadian policeman?
    It’s obviously pushing it a bit to be having these walks in Britain.

    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown doesn’t get it.

    ”Protesters in uplifted bras, thongs, Playboy outfits, corsets, red ribbons, with hair looking as if it has been thrashing on pillows all night, and sporting risqué tattoos represent smart insubordination and empowerment. They believe they can disable those bastards who think God or evolution have given them the right to tear into females when and where they choose. Sorry gals, still don’t geddit.

    The Canadian policeman surely was only saying women need to be sharp and savvy. Rape is a universal evil – and women in burkas with their unambiguous “stay off” sign are still as likely to be victims as the flesh-flashing demonstrators on Saturday. But to objectify yourself indefiance is still objectification. And dis-ingenuous too.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/yasmin-alibhai-brown/yasmin-alibhaibrown-how-does-dressing-like-a-slut-help-protect-women-2296776.html

  7. Trampolene — on 14th June, 2011 at 12:27 am  

    @ skidmarx

    Why would it be ‘nice to see’ the SWP at the march in view of the alliance Rumbold refers to?

    The SWP were likewise given short shrift recently when they tried to hijack a kiss-in by gay people outside a London pub.

    Maybe you lot should take the hint and reflect on why members of certain societal groups are so disdainful of you. A bunch of hypocrites with megaphones whose best buddies are homophobic, misogynistic Islamists are not really the kind of people we need as allies.

  8. Rita Banerji — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:12 am  

    More than 25 years ago there was an incident in Cape Cod, U.S.A., where a woman dressed like what you some would call a “slut,” at a bar, after drinking and dancing with some men, was gang-raped. The case went to court, and the final verdict was, it does not matter how you are dressed, whether or not your body language is sexy, you do not have the right to rape. 2 years ago, a group of women in the city of Mangalore, were out for a drink together after work, at a pub, and were beaten, and molested by a gang of men, to be taught a lesson. The NCW — the National Commission of Women, the highest office for women’s affairs in India, sent a rep, who “investigated” the case and then reported to the media that the women had provoked the attack because of the way the were dressed — her words exactly, I think was “naked clothing.” Something about the basic concept of rape obviously does not stick even with these “pro-women” women!!! A no means no. And yes, even if you are a “slut” no man has the right to rape you. By the way, most women who do get raped are not dressed this way!

  9. damon — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:08 am  

    It would have been more interesting to have this march in a part of London outside the city centre, which is such a neutral space where ”odd” things like this are to be expected. In the high streets of inner city and suburban London. Croydon, Tottenham, Brixton, Southall, Whitechapel, Wembley, Lewisham or Hackney.
    Then you would have had local people really watching this and taking note. With positive and negative views on it I think.

  10. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:32 am  

    Sidmarx:

    It was objectionable to have a group attempting to hijack the demo for their own ends.

    Rita:

    By the way, most women who do get raped are not dressed this way!

    And most rapes are by people the victim knows.

  11. Optimist — on 14th June, 2011 at 10:48 am  

    I was beginning to think that this was a reasonable forum where it was possible to have a debate without slanders and insults and making unfounded accusations about any groups or individuals.

    But some of you guys seem to be so much up your arses that I am thinking that its not worth bothering about this right-wing clap trap, like the nuggets from Rumbold, ‘woman-hating coalition’. I mean wtf is that all about Rumbold? Get your fucking head out of your arse so we can see what the fuck you are talking about.

  12. Shamit — on 14th June, 2011 at 10:50 am  

    I rarely agree with Yasmin Ali Brown but on this ocassion I do.

    Especially when I consider in the context of my nieces – I do not think these walks are helping them in anyway.

    No means NO irrespective of how one dresses – but the media coverage has very rarely dealt with the issue of No means NO but has been focused on the march itself.

    There are real issues of concern about safety and well being of women especially young women – but I somehow find these walks making much of an impact especially since these walks do define women by their sexuality.

    There are various relationships between men and women and most of them are deeroticised in our society – but at the same time there is abuse of power (in cases of most rapes).

    None of the underlying issues are being addressed by these walks. And the media coverage is about the novelty not the issue – which is not helping.

  13. Shamit — on 14th June, 2011 at 10:53 am  

    Optimist -

    I find many of your opinions revolting and your anti-American tirade boring and I am actually tired of finding right wing conspiracies among those who do not wish to compromise with the electorate.

    You are true “flat earther” aren’t you?

  14. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 10:54 am  

    Shamit (and Damon):

    The point of the march wasn’t to say that women should dress like this, or that stripping etc. is empowering, it was to hammer home the simple message that women should be able to wear what they want without being raped.

  15. Shamit — on 14th June, 2011 at 11:14 am  

    Rumbold:

    Agreed. However the message could be delivered better without calling women sluts –

    Dressing as one wishes is absolutely fine – what I find distasteful is why would that be defined as being a “slut”.

    Its the same thing that irritates me when wanna be Asian badboys call each other Pakis.

    I have nothing against the message but I do have a problem with how the message is being framed and many women cannot relate or would not like to relate to the march.

    There are a lot of ways to promote women’s empowerment and the right not to be sexually assaulted by pathetic examples of men.

    So I do not disagree with the underlying message but I am afraid the message is being lost on the wider audience.

  16. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 11:31 am  

    Shamit:

    I agree that the message didn’t get across as well as hoped- but the women weren’t marching for the right to be called sluts, but the right not be be blamed as ‘sluts’ for being raped. The media attention inevitably focused on their clothing and the title of the march.

  17. Arif — on 14th June, 2011 at 12:03 pm  

    I think Yasmin Alibhai Brown is missing the point a bit, however much she repeats that she gets the point!

    Women can wear things in order to be provocative, even to be sexually objectified or manipulate the male gaze, and we can say that is a bad thing if we want – we can wear clothes which are the extreme opposite if we want, and we can write articles calling such women stupid or worse.

    What we can’t do is interpret it as an invitation to rape or a justification for or even a minor mitigation for rape.

    How are women to get this message across successfully without practical demonstrations of this kind?

    The clothing might say “I am a prostitute”, or “I want men to look at me lustfully” or “I have no self-respect” or whatever they or we imagine it to say. And we can make all sorts of insulting or adoring interpretations of empowerment and disempowerment, which we pass on to our daughters and nieces. But none of them in any way suggests that it would be okay to rape. That is the point that Yasmin Alibhai Brown may get, but which she then misses by going back to obsessing over the what she thinks the clothes do say and how she would feel about her relatives wearing such clothes, and the current state of society where women as well as men need to be aware of how to avoid being a target of abusive people.

    Worthwhile discussion points, but not relevant to a discussion on how to break the cultural currents which suggest women who do become targets for rape because of what they wear, made themselves targets for rape and have some responsibility for that. These marches will have an impact, whatever the backlash, as people who miss the point nonetheless realise the need to reiterate that women wearing such clothing do not invite rape.

  18. KJB — on 14th June, 2011 at 12:05 pm  

    Shamit – I agree with you, but we were marching to combat the idea that rape victims should take blame for what happens to them. I don’t like the word slut aesthetically, let alone any other way, but that message is very important and I didn’t want to let the march be dominated by attention-seeking white feminists, because this is a cause for all women.

    Uh-oh Rumbold, you’ve upset a closet Islamist, it would seem!

    Get your fucking head out of your arse so we can see what the fuck you are talking about.

    How ironic, given that you are the only one throwing swear-words around here, and that you were whining about wanting a civil debate to begin with.

    I would say good sir, take your own advice. What is your problem with Rumbold’s phrasing?

  19. Optimist — on 14th June, 2011 at 12:32 pm  

    KJB –

    If I am a ‘closet Islamist’ then you must be an islamophobe, perhaps worse than the EDL and the BNP!

    Shamit -

    Attacking American imperalism is not same as calling some leftwing group ‘woman-hating coalition’.

    This all just descends into childish mudslinging.

    Bye the way I am not a member or supporter of Respect -but hate this sort of childish nonsense which is reducing this debate on a very important point into some vandeta against SWP/Respect!

  20. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 12:37 pm  

    Optimist:

    The Respect coalition (when the SWP was part of it), frequently endorsed women-hating figures (see George Galloway’s fawning over Hamas et al). Therefore it is legitimate to point this out. The SWP are little more than the mirror image of the EDL/BNP.

  21. Shamit — on 14th June, 2011 at 12:38 pm  

    Optimist –

    I will bite my tongue as this is an important thread.

    But one thing should not be allowed is Respect passing off as a respectable political party.

    They are goons and they have attacked people physically in Tower Hamlets for being gays and for running a dating agency as well as put the fear in women.

    They are nothing but the BNP albeit for the Islamic fundamentalists. And bringing in Respect to this debate is very relevant – they are trying to tell women how to behave.

    And so Respect is women hating despite Salma Yaqoub – who said foreign policy is a good excuse to kill your fellow citizens.

    Oh please.

  22. Optimist — on 14th June, 2011 at 1:26 pm  

    Rumbold -

    At least they are the mirror image because the international capitalism will create an acute economic crisis likes of which we have never seen before and the society will be polarised to such an extent with the end result being either barbarism or socialism.

    So, people would have to choose whether they support SWP ( or something like it ) or BNP ( or something like it ). And I know, if it happens during my life time, which side I will support!

  23. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 2:28 pm  

    Optimist:

    Well, I hope I will never have to make that choice- both are repressive populist parties that would be a disaster for this country.

  24. Optimist — on 14th June, 2011 at 5:55 pm  

    Shamit –

    Its never good to kill either the citizens of the little island that you share with, or the citizens of the world.

    The foreign policy of this island, in conjuction with and being subservient to a much larger island, has killed a lot of citizens of the world – but that does not excuse anyone trying to kill the citizens of this island.

    However, many politicians in the past, after being shocked by the horror they saw when the Israelis shot innocent civilians, have said that they can understand why some of those victims of Israeli wanton violence themselves turn to violence.

    One of those politicians was Jenny Tong, the LibDem peer who has suffered so much for speaking the truth.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3421669.stm

    The other person was David Mellor, as shown below:

    DAVID MELLOR ISRAEL VISIT: FO Minister David Mellor, on an 4.1.88 official visit to Israel, says he was “very shocked” by a TX visit to Jabaliya – the bigeest refugee camp in the Israeli- occupied Gaza Strip, the scene of violent riots in which
    Palestinians have confronted Israeli troops. He said he’d seen conditions that are “an affront to civilised values”.

    He also paid the price and as you can see that neither of them were members of Respect or any other leftwing political party. Only that they could not hide their humanity, as most politicians do, when faced with such injustices being meted out to the Palestinians by the occupying Zionist forces.

    I think Salma Yaqoub may have said something to that effect, although I don’t recall it.

  25. Don — on 14th June, 2011 at 6:37 pm  

    Shamit, any chance of a link about Salma Yaqoub?

    It doesn’t seem to mesh with her remarks on Question Time about 18 months ago, here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdq-3POhhfw

    1.40 in (sorry about the crappy video quality.)

  26. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 6:53 pm  

    You beat me to it Don.

    I thought what Salma Yaqoob had said was then encapsulated at the Iraq enquiry by Eliza Manningham Buller; and she described the view held by ‘sensible – but mostly frightened to speak out – senior Whitehall officials.’

  27. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 6:55 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I too don’t see why you needed to broaden the discussion so widely by using guilt by association techniques, something championed on HP. But never really seen as good form here.

  28. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 8:25 pm  

    Refresh (and others):

    I was annoyed that a reactionary organisation was trying to take over the march. I would be just as annoyed if another reactionary organisations attempted to do the same. My post was largely an account and analysis of the day, so it was reasonable to include it. And I don’t believe it is guilt by association, as I am criticising the SWP directly.

  29. Shamit — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:01 pm  

    Hello Everyone -

    I do not dispute Dame Eliza said those words but that shows we are failing as a society if our own citizens want to kill their fellow citizens because of something happening thousands of miles away.

    In other words, those people who wish to do this feel a kinship with other Muslims around the globe more than their fellow citizens. It would be like me supporting LTTE because they are hindu.

    Dame Eliza and the whitehall officials did not explot that message to fit their political agenda and none of them would refuse to stand up when a city council is honouring someone who has given his life for his country and earned a Victoria Cross as Salma Yakoub did.

    And so there is no moral equivalence between these parties no matter how much some one tries to equate

    Salma has a habit of speaking things depending on her audience and its not always very pleasant. Respect goons have attacked people in Tower Hamlets and in Birmingham – they have caused tension. They could not get away with in B’ham what they did in Tower Hamlets because people would not stand for it.

    So with all due respect, I would stand by my comments about Respect and BNP and I do not trust Salma Yakoub or her agenda.

    Respect saying anything about women’s rights is pretty much useless to me.

  30. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:04 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I am afraid it does look that way. You compounded it by talking about women-haters.

    The criticism you could have legitimately aimed at the SWP would be that they don’t need to waste their funds on having a placard for every occasion.

    You may have been better to have pointed out the organisations that didn’t make an attempt to join in, for example.

    I could use the same approach as you and talk about Thatcher and her party as the arch-supporter of apartheid and by inference racism as policy, but I don’t.

  31. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:09 pm  

    Moving on.

    My partner of decades tells me she and her cabal will be attending the next one as a networking opportunity and then organise one of their own “….walks”.

  32. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:14 pm  

    Shamit,

    I would be interested to see the link Don asked for upthread.

  33. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:23 pm  

    Refresh:

    Okay, in the spirit of moving on I won’t say any more either- it would likely have been a reiteration of previous points anyway. When is your partner going to organise one, and will it be the same theme?

  34. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:45 pm  

    Rumbold,

    They had their discussion this evening. I only asked in jest what they were going to do about “….walks”, and she replied ‘funnily enough that is what we’ve been discussing’.

    The theme will be the same I should think, not sure when though.

  35. Rumbold — on 14th June, 2011 at 9:53 pm  

    Refresh:

    Excellent. Count me in.

  36. Shamit — on 14th June, 2011 at 10:55 pm  

    No refresh – I am not going to go and find the link.

    But Salma Yaqoub in her own site admits saying that 7-7 was a reprisal.

    And then not standing up for a British soldier – she in my opinion does not reflect majority Muslim opinion and neither does Respect. So shall we move on?

  37. Refresh — on 14th June, 2011 at 11:00 pm  

    ‘But Salma Yaqoub in her own site admits saying that 7-7 was a reprisal.’

    That of course is no where near your claim, and it is not much further from all the voices that told Blair not to go murder so many innocents. Including Manningham-Buller.

    Yes, lets move on. We know how tedious it can get.

  38. KJB — on 14th June, 2011 at 11:45 pm  

    Rumbold has every right to criticise the SWP, because as Sunny has mentioned before, they were trying to co-opt the protest to send a message of their own.

    Had their signs simply said ‘Yes means yes and no means no,’ as they did on one side, then it would have been fine. On the other side, however, was printed ‘Clarke Must Go.’ While I agree with many that his comments on rape were inconsiderate, he is the most liberal justice minister we have had for ages, and that is a good thing. The SWP calling for his head is just reactionary point-scoring. I don’t think that they are on a par with the BNP/EDL as Rumbold does, but that was unpleasant.

    Refresh:

    I could use the same approach as you and talk about Thatcher and her party as the arch-supporter of apartheid and by inference racism as policy, but I don’t.

    Given that the Tories are, and historically have been, known for being the Nasty Party, this is redundant. The SWP, however, like many far-left groups, claim to protect the interests of the oppressed, which includes ethnic/religious minorities, women, homosexuals, etc. Ergo, criticising them for selling out one oppressed group in order to cosy up to another is not only legitimate, but necessary, whether you personally like it or not.

  39. Refresh — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:11 am  

    KJB,

    I do think this was ill-judged of the SWP, they don’t need to have a placard at every demo. Equally I think it is an unnecessary distraction to the post.

    I don’t agree with your rationale, but lets stay on subject.

  40. Shamit — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:16 am  

    Btw, I was not quoting her there by the way.

    I was in Birmingham and there was a street protest and lecture series from Respect. While I must admit she did not say those words her points were rather scary.

    She suggested that our foreign policy was the “cause” of the 7/7 attack – I find that deeply troubling and she also said that unless we change our policies – we might face more attacks. That is even more troubling.

    So are we suggesting that any particular community could force us to change our elected government’s policy under threat of violence? Isn’t that the first thing you condemn – no matter what happened thousands of miles away you have no right to kill your fellow citizens.

    And that criticism did not come from Slama Yaqoub or Respect – instead they said we told you so. And Unless you change your foreign policy it would happen again – WTF?
    I find that logic detestable.
    So please spare me the psychobabble

  41. Shamit — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:29 am  

    Blair the murderer

    Damn how the country wants Blair clones as PM. Hey heard even Ed Miliband quoted him in a speech yesterday – and no mention of Brown. YOu must be very cross Refresh.

    BoE independence, NHS investment (which Brown did not want immediately), most effective child poverty strategy in the Western world (again opposed by Brown and his cabal).

    Public services reform – setting common minimum standards for council services – pushing localism –

    Academies programme, Sure Start, investment in education & skills, challenging status quo in education – pushing for league tables (see what happened when Labour refused to do so in Wales)

    Bosnia, making international development a mainstream policy priority, getting the biggest pledge in 2005 G8 – working on eradicating poverty in Africa and other places and be the only country to keep its word, Sierra Leone.

    More confident and fairer Britain and successfully managed to weave free market and social justice in one common strand. he called for a balanced approach and the country still buys that if election results are anything to go by. And guess what he won three elections.

    Damn how dare he?

  42. Shamit — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:32 am  

    Also, Blair the murderer – nah we should have let Saddam Hussein stay in power and use more chemical weapons on his own people. Of course we should have let Iraqis sort it out – can’t you see how well Pakistanis are sorting out their messed up country?

    They are not only messing up their country but also messing up ours – most terrorism threats in the UK go back to Pakistan.

    But didn’t the same crew praise him when he went into Bosnia and almost forced Clinton to go in as well. So its okay to get rid of Milosevic but not Saddam Hussein – even though both killed their own Muslim citizens with impugnity – What’s the difference?

    Now the loony left falls back into the same rhetoric when faced with these uncomfortable questions – but we armed him.

    News flash: The world has changed and many things acceptable during the height of the cold war is not acceptable now. Even China would not dare do a Tianamen again.

    So now lets move on – btw, in the last discussion on another thread you said that all American client states are falied states like Pakistan. I came back and pointed out Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Israel most of Western Europe – and I haven’t heard from you since. Any thoughts on that one?

    Now we can move on

  43. Shamit — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:40 am  

    forgot minimum wage, devolution, Northern ireland – damn Iraq is a democracy – and the IraqiKurds never had it better. Damn that Blair – hang the murderer.

    Pathetic.

  44. Refresh — on 15th June, 2011 at 12:44 am  

    Lets move on.

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