On Saturday, Ann Arbor held its first Slut-Walk. For folks who don’t troll the feminist blogs, Slut-Walk is a response to a Toronto police officer advising women to prevent sexual assault by “not dressing like sluts.” Slut-Walk’s goal is to remind everyone that no matter what a woman wears, she is not asking for violence to be perpetrated against her.
I’ve been on the fence about Slut-Walk, if only because of how I know it will be viewed instead of its intention. Most participants in Slut-Walk wear provocative clothing which I know can quickly move from empowerment in the moment to objectification on the internet. I also don’t want an activity that is supposed to be about fighting victim blaming to turn into the reclamation (can you reclaim what was never yours?) of a word that i really don’t like in the first place.
But, I thought Slut-Walk would be a good opportunity to shamelessly self- promote roller derby and show that roller girls care about more than just our sport. And since pretty much everything that we commonly wear to practice would be under that police officer’s definition of “slutty,” I think derby should be there, reminding the world that clothes do not make the woman.
So, teamed up with some roller-friends, I went. I struggled with the chants, like I do at every rally, because I think issues are too complex to be distilled into a bumper sticker. So while the group was yelling “What do we do when we’re under attack? Stand up, fight back!” (ugh), I joked to my friends that we needed to be chanting “Consent is a clear and freely given yes, not the absence of a no!” A reporter walking near us thought that was the best thing she had ever heard so I gave her some quotes about the movement and about violence.
While there were lots of things I didn’t like about the walk (like the complicated issues of cars honking to show support for the rally—or honking because of the way women are dressed at the rally), I liked talking to the three different reporters who interviewed me. It was nice to use my knowledge of issues of sexual violence again. It was nice to be able to talk about this complex issue in a setting other than a nice time with friends made suddenly uncomfortable when work comes up.
It’s been a while since I was active in that work, but it felt really good to be back.
See, look here! They quoted me, although they left the best part of the quote for the second page