Slut Walk: Support your local slut . . . WTH?

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Slut Walk. Is it just me, or does this sound like a charity event to raise funds for. . .well, you know. . . sluts? I didn’t know, so I stopped to read the history of the event and its participants. Having learned more, I must say I see very clearly two sides of the same coin, evoking both empathy and repulsion for the group and their methods of gaining notoriety.

by T.M. Burroughs

Here’s a little background, as reported by CBS a couple of days ago:

Several hundred people rallied and marched in downtown Chicago Saturday during an annual event called Slut Walk Chicago. Some of the mostly women in the crowd went topless with some well-placed x’s on their breasts made of duct tape.

The event is part of an international “Slut Walk” movement. It started several years ago after a police officer in Caslutwalk3nada told some college students that woman should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized. His words sparked outrage.

The women who organized the local event say they’re fighting what they call rape culture and supporting victims of sexual assault.

“The idea that acts of violence can be excused due to a victim’s dress, state of intoxication, location and sexual history is absolutely ridiculous and feeds into a cultural view of sexual assault as not a real crime,” said organizer Liz Sheridan.

After the rally, they marched through the streets chanting, “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, no means no.”

Who would argue against the yes/yes-no/no mentality? Not I.

But, it turns out, that SlutWalk Chicago exploited its opportunity to protest violence against women by cramming a bunch of other issues into their message last Saturday. The result was a convuluted, disorganized, authority-bucking rampage of topless women advocating for sex workers, bi-sexuals, transgenders, and sluts, with the stated mission of wanting to be “inclusive”.

They fight against sexual assault, racism, classism, slut-shaming, prison rape, the shooting of Michael Brown, and every atrocity known to man. That’s a tall order, and one most likely to go the way of Animal Farm, with the leaders diviating from their original mission to the detriment of their organization.

“We wanted to become more inclusive,” SlutWalk co-organizer Red Schulte told Windy City Times. “We want to stand against transphobia, racism, classism and the manifestations of oppression that Capitalism hoists upon us.” 

Vigilante much?

More on the August 26 march in Chicago, h/t: Windy City Media Group:

Those voices [at the event]included representatives from the Gay Liberation Network, The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) of Chicago, the Illinois Choice Action Team, Rape Victim Advocates, Fight for 15: Lucha por 15 and the prison abolitionist movement Black and Pink Chicago.

As police presence intensified along North Michigan Avenue, the marchers took up the cry of those protesting the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri “Hands up, don’t shoot.” That cry intensified even as the sirens on the CPD vehicles were switched on and the resulting noise became deafening.

When the rally began at noon in Daley Plaza, there were only a few CPD officers observing as speakers took to the microphone and called for unwavering solidarity from an energized crowd.

“As we’ve seen with the recent murder in Ferguson and police murders in our own town, solidarity is essential for all of us,” co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network Andy Thayer said. “And speaking out—whether you’re women or not—against the rape culture we live in.”

Many Illinois sex workers claim to bear the brunt of both sexual assault and police harassment because of a negative attitude towards their work. SWOP Chicago is an organization advocating for their rights through education and peer support.

“Sex workers are at a massive risk of violence because we are so heavily stigmatized,” SWOP spokeswoman Kathryn Berarovich said. “We are also criminalized which means that—when we suffer violence—much of the time we can’t report it.”

With each participant feeling free and secure to wear as much or as little clothing as they desired, the march began with a unified cry of  “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, no means no.”

Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild walked or cycled alongside keeping an eye on but not commenting on the march as it progressed onto the Magnificent Mile.

A SlutWalk organizer informed Windy City Times that they had deliberately not pre-publicized their route for fear of police intervention.

“The streets are ours,” co-organizer Ashley Bohrar said. “We pay for them to be maintained. They are public spaces and we have a right to demonstrate peacefully on them. The actions of the police today show what side they stand on. They don’t stand on the side of the first amendment, of women, of survivors, or trans*folk, queer folk or our allies. We need to be better organized, in more numbers so we can take the streets and keep the streets.”

That just sounds like a difiant dare to me. What if a house moving company doesn’t “pre-publicized” its route? A big house and an accompanying motorcade would create a major obstruction of traffic, and present all kinds of safety issues and chaos. Thousands of high strung people do the same thing. It is a matter of logistics, not rights.

The organizers of this march lost all credibility for me. While I object to sexual assault and support respect for victims’ rights, including severe penalties for perpetrators of sex and hate crimes, I cannot advocate for the full spectrum of issues and the manner in which SlutWalk goes about publicizing their all-inclusive cause.

Slut or sex worker? Neither?

Slut or sex worker?

Additionally, I find it difficult to tell a slut from a sex worker based on the red light disctrict fashions prevalent with both. You have to look at their earnings to see which ones provide gratutious sex and which ones charge for it.

What’s more: the radical indecency of this group detracts from all serious pleas for reform, and repels mainstream shakers and movers from joining up. IMHO, Chicago met with a SlutWalk fail of huge proportions.

THBby T.M. Burroughs

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