Walk Like A Slut

I took my then three-year-old daughter to SlutWalk last year because I want her to grow up knowing nobody has the right to tell her avoiding rape is her responsibility. Or that she needs to police her look and behavior but a boy does not. As another mother said, she brought her six-year-old daughter because "she wanted her daughter to know that nobody has a right to her body." Her body is hers and no one has the right to do anything to it that she doesn't want.

Heading to the walk, I told my daughter SlutWalk is about celebrating girls and women. She said we should celebrate boys too.


Indeed. We need to foster a culture where boys and girls respect and trust each other. Where girls' and boys' fears and insecurities about sexuality—including when it comes to their own budding bodies as well as those of the opposite sex—are addressed. Through positive sex education that equips both girls and boys to approach sex with knowledge, respect and integrity.

Boys who "can't help themselves" are boys who've been shamed into wrongly thinking this is in fact so.

That this way of thinking is perpetuated by abstinence-only programs offered by a large amount of schools across the American nation should be of grave concern to us all. Girls and boys alike need comprehensive information about sex, including sexual desire and pleasure. They need to be empowered to own their desire. To learn that it is okay to say no and also to say YES when THEY want it. And to articulate what precisely this means.

Girls and boys will engage in sex. Unfortunately, in the United States, they often do so unsafely because it is done in secret and in shame. And because girls have been told "boys can't help themselves," and that they themselves are "sluts" if they want sex.

Sexual repression backfires on itself in devastating ways. When sex is experienced as something forbidden and taboo, lust becomes shameful. Shame easily spirals into anger and resentment. And an ashamed person might direct those feelings against that which arouses him. Through disrespect and degradation. And in worse cases: physical violence and sexual assault.

Photo: Mari Milewski

SlutWalk forces our attention to understand rape. Rape by men who purportedly can't help themselves because "they're just guys."

SlutWalk reminds us this isn't true. SlutWalk asks us to put the blame where it belongs.

You can't blame the victim. You have to blame the rapist.

The annual SlutWalk Minneapolis was this past Saturday. My husband, daughter and I all walked together this year, all of us chanting "yes means yes; no means no." Such a powerful yet simple message to convey to a child.

As I explained in this post about SlutWalk where I look at the movement's empowering reclaiming of the term "slut," it was launched after a police officer in Toronto advised students they dress less like “sluts” to avoid sexual assault. Within months it became a global phenomenon uniting women who had enough of being told that they are the ones to blame—of being taught to police themselves instead of men being taught not to rape—of being labeled sluts as if this label justifies their mistreatment. It does not.

Quizzical mama, aka Anne G. Sabo, Ph.D., is a former academic turned public educator, author, speaker, freelance writer, and mama- and sex blogger. LOVE, SEX, AND FAMILY is a resource site she founded devoted to progressive human sexuality information. This piece was originally posted there.

 

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