Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sluts and the Men Who Love Them

This weekend in Melbourne, SlutWalk will be parading through the streets. What's it all about? Here's a good article by one of the organisers, my pal Clem Bastow. And another one by fellow organiser/pal, Karen Pickering.

And of course there is my contribution, which is irresponsible, offensive, and adds nothing of value whatsoever. But maybe you'll get a chuckle from the article about which critics rave "you sound like a a right tosser, a throw back to some grunting heaving past which most have moved on from … read a book!"

Anyway look I thought I'd just weigh in an say why, as a man who, with some sense of trepidation, calls himself a feminist, I'm quite in favour of SlutWalk and think it's a good idea.

I like the idea of SlutWalk because I quite want to see a bunch of ladies in their undies.

No, Wait! Let me start again...

Firstly, I think the talk of "reclaiming" the word slut is a bit of a red herring. It doesn't really matter whether you think of it as reclaiming or not. Everyone knows it's a nasty word that's usually used in a nasty way. A negative way.

But the point of SlutWalk (to ME, I stress; and if others have a different take, please please please let a thousand frigging flowers bloom, it's all good) is that it's NOT negative. It's positive. It's happy. It's even lighthearted. It's not an angry thing, it's not a hateful thing or an anti-male thing.

And I don't think it's trying to make women call themselves sluts, or dress as sluts. It's not trying to make women do anything except stand up and say, "we will not be attacked and mistreated no matter what we wear, no matter who we have sex with, and no matter how well or badly we fit into someone else's ideas about femininity.

It's not a battle between men and women here, it's a battle between decent people and indecent people, between arseholes and non-arseholes, between people who would say that even if a woman walks down the street stark naked, even if a woman is a prostitute, a stripper, or, yes, a SLUT, there is no excuse for assaulting her, abusing her or treating her as less than human.

Is SlutWalk "giving men what they want"? Maybe - but then since when was the main aim of feminism to deny men what they want? I am sure plenty of guys will miss the point, I'm sure plenty of guys will turn out just to leer. But hey, you know what? Fuck 'em. For me the point of SlutWalk is that it doesn't matter a damn what sexists want or don't want. That's why it's happening - because there are women who want to say, we do what we like regardless of what you want us to do. Women who say, when I decide what to wear, how to talk, how to act, how many people I want to have sex with, I'm basing my decision on what I want. Not on the fact you want to ogle me, not on the fact you DON'T want to ogle me, not on the fact you wish I was more demure, or more promiscuous, or more ladylike, or less girly. Women who say, in essence, we are going to live our lives on the terms that men tend to just because. Screw your expectations.

This is why I like SlutWalk: because I want to send the message that when the bastards of the world, the paternalists, the misogynists, the rape apologists and the straight up-and-down arseholes, snarl the word "slut" at a woman because she's not conforming with the way he wants femininity to manifest itself, the decent, well-adjusted people of the world will LAUGH IN THEIR FACES.

You want to call them sluts? Well that is just fine, guys. We will throw it back in your faces, laugh our heads off, and go on living our lives. Not just the sluts, but the men who love them, the children they raise, and everyone else who doesn't accept the right of the pricks to shape the world.

Not everyone is comfortable with SlutWalk, which is fine. It's an emotive word, and I'm not going to tell anyone that because they don't like the idea, they're not proper feminists or unconcerned with women's rights. There's room for all opinions. But I DO know that the Slutwalk has been organised by proud, gutsy females who will fight for the cause of decency all their lives, and who are making this statement this way because it resonates with them and so many others.

The SlutWalk, for me, is about we comrades standing up like Sarah in Labyrinth, and crying, "You Have No Power Over Us!" Call us sluts, call us whores, call us fags, call us dykes, call us pussies, call us anything you want, but you have no power over us. Your abuse isn't going to give you control. We're going to win, and you're going to lose, dying with the word SLUT on your sad little lips. Get used to the new world, dickheads.

March on, siblings.


nerines said...

Not just dickheads bitches too (sorry:)
That was beautiful Ben!

Kitty said...

FUCK YEAH! This is awesome! Nice work, Ben.

ozfiredancer said...

This is awesome, and exactly how I feel about it! I don't feel the name is entirely positive, nor do I think 'reclaiming' the word slut is a good thing. However, I wholehearteddly agree with the reasoning behind it, and hope this will put a stop to victim-blaming! Unfortunately, due to the name 'SlutWalk', I think that it will probably go over the heads of the majority of offenders, and that's sad.

Ms Naughty said...

I am pumping my fist in the air reading this. How am I going to fit it all onto a placard for tomorrow??

Anonymous said...

this is really really good. love it.

Ultrahedonist said...

<3 <3 your writing. You're a blossom of a man.

Nikki Magennis said...

Your column really made me laugh. Made more sense than most of the things I've read on Slutwalk so far, too.

Trish said...

This is brilliant. Thank you.

It breaks my heart to think of where you were, sixteen days ago.

Please keep writing, and getting fired-up, and writing some more. We need you in this world, making all this beautiful noise.

Thank you.

Kim-Marie from Kimba Likes said...

Bless you!

Maxine Beneba Clarke said...

You go girl!

Anonymous said...

Go get em, sista <3

Annette said...

I <3 this so hard.

I've had this conversation with people who don't get it and I wish I could have been this eloquent about it.