So, I finished radiation (yay! more on that in a future post), and my first big foray into the world was to attend the 2015 Amber Rose SlutWalk.
So, what is SlutWalk? From Wikipedia:
SlutWalk is a transnational movement of protest marches which began on April 3, 2011, in Toronto, Ontario, with subsequent rallies occurring globally. Participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance, and call for an end to rape culture. The rallies began after a Toronto Police officer suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault.
The protest takes the form of a march, mainly by young women, where some dress as “sluts” in revealing, sexy attire such as short skirts, stockings and scanty tops. In the various Slutwalks around the world, there are usually speaker meetings and workshops, live music, sign-making sessions, leafleting, open microphones, chanting, dances, martial arts, and receptions or after-parties with refreshments. In many of the rallies and online, women speak publicly for the first time about their identity as rape survivors. The movement’s ideology has been questioned and its methodology criticized.[12
Every SlutWalk, in every city has had its critics, from the very first one in Toronto, and this one is no exception. My full post on the first LA Slutwalk is here.
So, who is Amber Rose, and how/why did she get to take over SlutWalk, or at least, SlutWalk Los Angeles?
Amber Rose is a lovely young model and fashion designer and mother, who has also been a stripper, and involved with and married to several famous rappers, as well as releasing her own music. She’s releasing her own clothing line, and one criticism of her is that she took over the SlutWalk brand for her own self-promotion.
My take? That may be partly true. And if so, so what?
The reality is, few (if any) other volunteers were picking up the ball and running with it. SlutWalk the movement-slash-brand, seemed to be dying on the vine – I certainly wasn’t devoting my life to it. Social movements do morph and change, as people join, become more active, become less active… It’s the nature of the beast. And none of them, ever, are perfect incarnations of the ideals expressed.
The differences between SlutWalk, LA, 2011, and the Amber Rose SlutWalk, LA, 2015?
Mo Money, Mo People, Mo Everything
SlutWalk LA 2011 contained a few hundred lovely protesters, in a small West Hollywood park. The Amber Rose SlutWalk LA 2015 had thousands, in Pershing Square, downtown Los Angeles. Major stage, sound system, pre-printed signs and many booths for vendors, food trucks.
Though there were still many wonderful handmade signs.
Not Just a Bunch of
Old White Feminists
The organizers of the original SlutWalk, in Toronto, were two white college women, Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis. Not that there is anything wrong with being white; to quote Lady Gaga, I was Born That Way, but although all women suffer from slut shaming, it is women of color, sex workers, and transpeople, who suffer the most. Because Los Angeles is a diverse city, Slutwalk LA 2011 contained men and women of many skin tones, but in all honesty? Probably over 50% white folks.
This SlutWalk was dominated by women of color. The panelists, dancers, performers, and crowd were predominantly people of color.
And that was awesome.
There were plenty of male allies there. And women and men who are
older of my generation, too. But mostly, it was a young crowd.
When white people did speak, like SlutWalk co-founder Heather Jarvis, and actor Matt McGorry, they spoke about white privilege, and how people of color have been disproportionally affected by rape and slut shaming. Yes, rape and slut shaming hurts everyone. But I have never been assumed to be a slut simply because of the color of my skin.
People in Transition Were Not Pushed to the Back of the Bus
I know there were a few transpeople at Slutwalk LA 2011. I have no idea how many were present at AmberRoseSlutwalk 2015, because I am learning to not look for signs that someone is “trying to pass.” If someone is presenting as a woman, I will treat her as a woman, and if someone is presenting as a man, I will treat him as a man, and if someone is presenting in an androgynous way, I will treat them like any other human being. I loved that every speaker talked about the slut shaming and danger our transgender brothers and sisters endure.
The Emphasis Was On Sexual Freedom, Not Rape
When it comes to rape myths, that battle is already won, or almost won, at least in SoCal. As I walked around downtown LA with my “No Shaming This Slut” Slutwalk sign, people asked about it, and everyone nodded their heads in agreement, that of course no one deserves to be raped because of what they are wearing. (There may be a few troglodytes who still feel differently, but they are also the tinfoil hat kind who believe we faked the Moon landing, so, whatevs.)
There seemed to be a shift in emphasis, in that more and more people are adopting the philosophy espoused by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy in The Ethical Slut, that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.
This message deeply resonates with me, and did long before I joined the fabulous organization Sex Positive World, Los Angeles chapter.
And while Amber Rose might not (yet) be a member of our happy tribe, she sends the same message. Consensual Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, we should be proud of owning our sexuality. Whether we choose to be celibate, monogamous, swingers, sex workers, or polyamorous or a combination, we choose. Whether we choose to wear burquas or bikinis or bare-breasted, we choose.
That’s a message that hasn’t changed, from 2011 to 2015.
Have you ever participated in a SlutWalk or this one?