Misguided “Sluts”

It’s an ugly word: slut. There’s really only one word that’s worse to call a woman. And today scads of women are gathering in London’s Victoria Park to show their opposition to the word and the bigger meaning for which it was recently used.

A Toronto police officer speaking to a group of law students recently said that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” if they don’t want to be victimized. The walk’s organizer put it this way. “We live in a society that teaches us how not to get raped, instead of ‘don’t rape’.”

The walk has polarized two important womens’ groups in the city. The Executive Director of the London Sexual Assault Centre will be at the walk while the Director of the London Abused Womens’ Centre is opposed, and launched her own campaign called Value Women. It’s a five-year campaign to shift focus to the positive rather than the negative.

The Slut Walk has attracted a lot of attention but in an over-the-top PETA kind of way. I agree that society blames women for sexual violence. Every time a rapist is on the loose women are reminded by police not to walk alone after dark and to lock windows and doors, as if our inattention is what’s causing these men to attack us. Instead, they should be telling citizens to watch for patterns in the behavior of the men they know based on the suspect’s description and details about the attacks. The focus is all wrong. But so is illuminating the unfortunate societal view by calling ourselves that awful word.

The Value Women campaign asks everyone to commit to value women and to champion five people for the cause. There’s nothing to sign. You aren’t tracked. It’s on the honour system. Just click the button on this page: http://lawc.on.ca/value-women-campaign/ All of the campaign details are there. It concentrates on the positive and moves us forward with hope and a united voice. A walk/rally won’t change the meaning of the word slut, and it won’t change the attitude of a sexist cop. Maybe promising to value women, will.

10 thoughts on “Misguided “Sluts””

  1. Unfortunately, rapists exist. Telling women to lock their doors and windows and to avoid walking alone in places where a rapist might lurk isn’t in any way saying that womens’ innattention is the problem. It’s just a few simple reminders to make you a less likely target until the rapist is caught. It would be great if everyone could go anywhere they wanted, whenever they wanted, dressed however they wanted and be completely safe but that’s not realistic. If you’re out walking in bear country you aren’t told that bears should be punished in the case of an attack on a human or that bears should behave differently or that people have the right to behave any way they want and will be safe in doing so, you are given pointers on changes you can make in your behaviour to make you appear like less appealing prey. Different predator, different wilderness, same attempt at trying to keep people safe.

    1. I respectfully disagree. If there was a place where rapists would more likely be found, like the woods, I could understand the reminders based on going into their habitat. I honestly believe you have to be a woman to understand how totally insulting it is to be told to alter our behavior. Women know from childhood that they can be overpowered by men. It’s something that’s intrinsic to being female in society. Are there stupid women who take unwise chances? Absolutely. But there always will be. Telling us all to do what any woman with common sense has already thought about or done, is like having the whole class stay because one kid is chewing gum. The focus should be on catching the predator not lecturing the prey.

  2. And I respectfully disagree. This isn’t about the male, female dynamic, its about societal norms which are predicated on a long list of general and legislative advice to assist and guide members of society in area’s of common sense which is seriously lacking. Were all subjected to a variety of advice, with the aim to ensure our safety: don’t cross against red lights, don’t drive while testing/talking on your phone, you must install fire alarms on each floor of your home, you must wear seat belts when your driving and the list goes on, and yet, people are injured each year by not following this advice.

    I’m a person with a disability, and ever since becoming disabled, I’ve changed my pattern on how i travel when alone for safety reasons. And why, because I fully realize that I’m a potential victim and vulnerable to the crazies within society. Do I resent it, yes, but I’m not going to stop living because of it, just use some common sense and caution.

    1. My opposition to the warnings isn’t because I think we should be able to walk around in a hanky at 3 am in front of a half-way house for dangerous offenders! It’s because it’s unbalanced. It’s the easy way to look like something is being done. “Oh, we can’t catch the guy so let’s warn women again!” I am pro-cop, all the way. It’s just that the sexist attitude that women bring on attacks and have the power to stop them by locking a window, is erroneous. It’s well-intentioned but that doesn’t make it right.

  3. So, what if everything IS being done and your beloved cops still can’t catch the bad guy? What’s wrong with saying “We can’t catch the guy so lets warn women again!”? Cops don’t always have the ability to figure out who is committing crimes in a timely fashion. Cops don’t always have the freedom to openly declare where they are in an investigation or give out details of crimes committed. Certain things have to be held back because it’s not enough to just catch a criminal, you have to be able to prove their guilt and prosecute them too.
    There might always be men who victimize women. There might always be men who victimize those who are less able to defend themselves. But there will ALWAYS be men who will stand up and find these men and kick the living shit out of them because they want to live in a world where women CAN walk around at 3 in the morning in a hanky!
    Look, all humour aside (that was humour, by the way) we are animals. All of us, we all are. Any animal on earth who fancies himself a predator takes advantage of any disadvantage his/her prey may have. Many people feel uncomfortable accepting this. Many people like to think that we have risen above our baser instincts because we have cities and i-phones and huge salaries and sushi restaurants on every street. We have not! It is these people who have to be reminded now and then (like when they might be behaving in a way that could make a predator take notice) that certain habits in their lives should be avoided to decrease their chances of becoming prey.

    1. I guess my perspective comes from years of reading press releases from police about suspects on the loose and the emphasis has always been on the women not on the hunt. Of course certain things should be avoided. But it’s the unbalanced nature of the information distribution that’s the problem. The cop that said women shouldn’t dress like sluts in order to avoid being attacked is symptomatic of the focus being on the behavior of the women and not of the men.

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