There has been a long held belief that if you are sexual or dressed in a provocative manner, you are asking for something sexual to happen to you. In 2011 police officer Michael Sanguinetti gave a personal safety talk on a law school campus in Toronto. Part of that speech quoted him as saying, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
That was the sentence that was felt around the world, because the female students that heard him that day decided his message was unacceptable and a movement called Slutwalk was born. That comment reinforced the stereotype that no matter what, victims are to be blamed for being sexually assaulted, because somehow they must have brought it upon themselves. When he used the word "slut" like that, he essentially said any person who is sexually dressed is looking to be raped.
Slutwalk was born out of outrage, because victims have been told over and over again that if you are raped or sexually assaulted, somehow you may have brought it upon yourself. Victims are tired of questions like, "What were you wearing? How late was it? Why were you alone?" or other awful questions that still get asked to victims of sexual assault.
Dressing up in sexy clothes does not give anyone the right to do anything to you other than look. Women are still told that it is our job to not get raped by avoiding dressing in a way that could possibly arouse someone. If we do, we face the risk of being blamed for our assault.
When I heard that Slutwalk SFwas happening in San Francisco, I donned some of my skimpiest duds and a face full of makeup, and headed to Delores Park. I wanted to support the movement that our bodies, what we look like, or how we dress should never decide whether or not we are assaulted. After I put on my halter top, rhumba panties and fishnet stockings, I knew I could not walk out the door like this. I had to put a skirt on and a sweatshirt in order to make my way over to the park. It was 9:00 a.m., so I was not as afraid of being raped so much as being stared at, whistled at, and basically harassed because I was dressed like that.
I was not going to take the time to explain my outfit was political while someone eye fucked me and yelled disgusting things at me. I thought about this the whole way over to Slutwalk, because I thought there was so much irony. Once I arrived, I saw a lot of other people dressed like me. I saw men and women. People of every color, every sexuality and every creed. I saw a lot of familiar faces and many new ones. Mainly, I saw people who are tired of injustice and people who are afraid of what the next election will bring for everyone, especially women.
A lot of the speakers reminded us that it was our grandmothers and great grandmothers who stood up and fought for us, so that women could enjoy the rights that we now have. But somehow lately, it seems as if all the things we fought so hard to change are coming back around.
Roe v. Wade, a monumental court case which changed law when it came to abortion in this country, gets closer and closer to being overturned. I hear a lot of old, rich white men tell me how they think my body works, what I should and should not be allowed to do with it, and that maybe just maybe, there is a magical switch in my uterus that will shut down if I am "legitimately raped," so that I don't get pregnant.
But, it is not just the rich, white men of privilege; it is also, frighteningly, a lot of women who feel this very same way. The "Health and Safety Act" was signed into law by Republican Jan Brewer, which says that conception starts two weeks before contraception. Ann Coulter recently said that, "If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat in office." Ladies, ladies -- what are we doing to each other?
The main thing that I took away from Slutwalk SF is that it is time to take our rights back and make sure we stay protected. I am a night person, and part of my job includes attending sexy parties. There are times I roll home at two or three in the morning while not wearing a whole lot. I worry about what the cab driver will be like; I worry that men in the street will yell at me, or possibly grab me, and I hate that. But what I mainly hate is that if something were to happen to me, that when I called the cops to report it, they would ask why I was dressed like that, why I was out that late, or tell me that I brought it on myself. Being victimized is not your fault. It is always and only the fault of the perpetrator. I look forward to being a bigger part of SLUTWALK 2013 and to voting in this next election -- something that every woman in this country needs to do.
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