Christian Science Monitor: A dress is not a yes

Christian Science Monitor: A dress is not a yes

Yesterday I had a piece about SlutWalks published in the Christian Science Monitor. It’s about one way that the word “slut” is used among women: to convince the woman using it that as long as she toes the line, she’ll be safe from sexual violence.

The catalyst for the original Toronto protest was a comment from a law enforcement official, a man charged with enforcing laws against sexual violence. His words revealed an ugly truth: Even the people whose job it is to protect women believe that some of us – ones who dress “like sluts” – bring violence on themselves, while other women – those who dress appropriately, whatever that means – deserve our sympathy when someone hurts them. Just as ugly, however, is the truth of how the word “slut,” and the attitude it represents, is used among women.

When women use the word “slut” to describe another woman, the word serves several functions. Firstly, it demonstrates a disapproval, or a disgust, for another person’s sexual life, or for her choice of clothes, or for her tendency to flirt, or for a host of other things I don’t have the column inches to list here.

But secondly, and more disturbingly, making the distinction between “sluts” and ourselves creates a false sense of safety. “Sluts,” we tell ourselves, are women who invite violence, and often, that invitation is answered. When “sluts” are raped, police officers suspect they must have done something to deserve it. So as long as we aren’t sluts, we are safe. We won’t be raped, and if we are, the justice system will take care of us. We won’t be raped, and if we are, our friends and family will be sympathetic. We won’t be raped, and if we are, no one will say we deserved it.

You can read the full article here.

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