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Tiffany Thorne

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How do you view SlutWalks? How familiar are you with the movement? What aspects of it do you agree or disagree with?

I am curious what TED listeners think of the global Slutwalk movement designed to combat widespread victim blaming and slut shaming. What do you understand it to be for? If you disagree with SlutWalks, what would you like to see instead? What about it empowers or disempowers you?

I ask because I so deeply respect this community, and would like a snap shot educated perspectives concerning the movement.

To learn more about SlutWalk visit www.slutwalktoronto.com

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  • Apr 30 2012: Wikipedia has interesting views on this movement:
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SlutWalk#section_2

    Basically I feel like while this movement ideal of protecting women's right and perception is good but I am not sure about its the execution.

    Based on what I read in the Wikipedia I see the following concerns:
    - should we focus on the word 'slut' ? Don't we need to focus more on words that empower women? Like scientist, leader, inventor, adventurer, entrepreneur, life giver etc
    - does almost naked women help to cater to the idea of women's body being their major attribute rather than intelligence and character?
    - does this encourages young girls to relate more to the world of Barbies, Hollywood and "reality" shows where women are objects of beauty?

    What if these women take on the appearance of sexually abused victims (both strangers and wives) to show the results of abusing behavior some men in today's society still engage in? Maybe they do but it is not apparent from the website.


    cheers
    • May 1 2012: Thank you for your feed back!

      Good points! I think the that by using the word 'slut' they hoped to spark a conversation among people about how they themselves use the word and marginalize and shame others with its use.

      The word 'slut' is almost always used to conjure up shame and humiliate. Maybe neutralizing the word is called for?

      I believe it is intended to point out its meaninglessness. Sexual purity tends to be shifty and unclear, yet human beings are often marginalized by for not upholding these conflicting, inconsistent, arbitrary standards of sexual purity.

      From outside perspectives I think it may come across as trying to say that women are eye candy and then some, and that sex can empower, but really I think its all about how we individually contribute to a society that focuses on victims rather than victim makers.

      The only one who can prevent rape is a rapist, and clothing has absolutely nothing to do with that. It's all about power. Rapists in fact rely heavily on a culture that will question victims credibility and "how they contributed". Nobody contributes to their own rape.

      It is so important to know how the movement is being interpreted, and how that contrasts with its intentions.
      • May 1 2012: Thank you. Now I understand this movement better and I agree with your points. I think it will always be hard to properly convey this kind of message but this is a good start and with time the movement will learn and adjust to increase its effectiveness.

        Cheers
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      May 2 2012: i think you misunderstood the point.

      the message here is that women can dress whatever goddamn way they want to, and everyone else can just shut up. you can not deliver this message with underlining that women can be just as good this or that as men. it is not the point here.

      let me use an example. suppose in some unnamed islamist country women are often injured or killed for not wearing burka. so they organize "burka-less" marches. and some guy would say: this is not the good way. they should emphasize their equal role in society, etc, but not acting like indecent whores. showing up like that is just lowering women in general.
      • May 2 2012: I am still thinking about this and that is why my first post was in form of questions rather than statements.

        Yes women can and should dress any way they like.

        What I am wondering about is whether the message was communicated appropriately. I don't disagree with the movement goal and ideal. There are many ways one can communicate and some are more effective than other.

        I suggest that the women also have fake bruises and fake signs of violence in their appearance that is connected with victims of rape and abuse which this is mostly about? Then the message will be quite clear in my opinion.

        So I think we are in agreement on seriousness of these issues.

        cheers
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    Apr 30 2012: I must admit that I'd never actually heard of it until I saw your question but then looked it up on Wikipedia. It seems to me that whether women dress provocatively or not this is no justification for any sexual attack or harrassment of that person. However, it is clear that by dressing provocatively it appears to be the intention of the person to attract others sexually...and if that is the case, don't be surprised so if you receive unwelcome attention. I'm not saying that it serves them right...but that they should have more sense. Getting dressed up as Lady Gaga in a meat dress is not the best wardrobe for a stroll through the Serengueti.
    • May 1 2012: I am so glad you posted! I have really hoped to hear a variety of perspectives here in response to my question.

      Having said that, I vehemently disagree that women should expect to be harassed when appearing attractive, even deliberately appearing attractive. Not only do I disagree, but science does not support the idea that a persons dress either increases or decreases the odds that they will be a victim of sexual violence.

      This is an over played myth that is indicative of a harmful, misdirected public attitude.
      Here are a couple sources to back up the claim that sexy dress does not lead to sexual violence:


      See Section III

      http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?14+Duke+J.+Gender+L.+&+Pol%27y+125



      See Pg 122 Table 4

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCgQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bridgew.edu%2Fsoas%2Fjiws%2FMay10%2FAvigail.pdf&ei=qOGdT9PUFKei2wXrlbXpDw&usg=AFQjCNFOBs0oKWA8UTlopV8Zgr2bjiSQmg&sig2=2_DNchTTqa--LwN-AKljaQ
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        May 1 2012: I said that harrassment and violence could not be justified....but that they should expect unwelcome attention...and of course some welcome attention. Men who are out to rape someone don't pick women based on their attractiveness, that's true. But men who are out to score on a Friday night usually do...so if you make yourself as attractive as possible and then surround yourself with men...don't be surprised if they come on to you. I'm sure if not a single man did come on to you, you'd be pretty upset.

        As for Slutwalk...they are free to demonstrate as they wish...but it's a shame that people use vulgarity to attract attention to their cause. Seems a gimmick to me.
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    May 9 2012: I think, though well-intentioned, it does little to help.
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    May 1 2012: Interestingly, this started based on a comment that was made at the university where I work and studied.

    I personally think this movement is an important, positive, and reflective one (just read their blog posts to see the depth of thought involved - http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/category/blog

    Those involved are staking out a space in the public domain, to discuss sexual violence in a way that may be seen as provocative to some. But that provocation ultimately works to build awareness on a topic that really isn't discussed as much as needed.

    And Peter, I agree, you shouldn't have to wear a tie.
  • May 10 2012: @ Krisztian

    I am already clear on the meaning of my message - the fact that you still struggle with it is not my problem.

    Tiffany started this thread to get different views on slutwalks - I have presented mine, as you have yours.

    At no point did I state that "men can not stop their sexual urges" - you inferred this, which, I think, says more about your mind set than mine. There are clearly SOME men who cannot stop their urges otherwise slutwalks wouldn't exist, would they? You write like someone who enjoys making strawman arguments when faced with facts you don't like. How unfortunate.

    What impact do you really think slutwalks are going to have on people in general, and, more specifically, the men who actually attack women? I don't see them changing anything. The people on these marches can strip off and shout slogans all they want - but I doubt you'll see any changes in the cities where the marches are held.
  • May 10 2012: "Victim blaming" and "slut shaming" - and these marches are supposed to stop these things from happening? How exactly?

    The advice from the police officer who probably wishes he'd never said anything was that women "should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized". Advertising yourself in a sexual way and then complaining about sexual interest seems counterintuitive. It's like showing lots of cleavage and then complaining that people are looking at your breasts.

    Slutwalks seem to be based on the idea that these women think they should be able to wear whatever they like, drink as much as they like, sleep with as many people as they like and go wherever they like ... which is all absolutely fine by me ... but then they seem to refuse to accept that these things can also lead to consequences. An example usually brought up in complaints about slutwalks is this - if I go to a dangerous area, showing money and expensive items and then get attacked and robbed ... can I really claim that I wasn't putting myself at risk?

    Not all rapes are the same, some may be about power, some sexual attraction, some may be opportunity - but is it really wrong to suggest that a woman might be able to do something to help protect herself from attack? Women cross the street to avoid men, take taxis home rather than walking, stay with friends rather than leaving by themselves - none of these are guarantees but they all help limit risk.

    The world is not a nice place and there are people who will do terrible things. You can't guarantee that changes in behaviour will help protect you, but in some cases there is the possibility that they might. Is this fair? Of course not. We should be free to do what we like as long as it doesn't cause harm, but that's not the world we live in.
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      May 10 2012: this is the longest form of "men can not stop their sexual urges". of course, saying it such briefly has the disadvantage of sounding like a real bastard. you need a lot of verbosity and disguise to make it sound like a valid point of view.

      i especially like the word "consequence". in my book, consequence is when something leads to something inevitably. it is in the nature of things. so your actual position is that men are beasts whose behavior is controlled by nature, and when they see a thigh or a breast, they just go for the rape. i don't know who inspired that view, but i don't share it.
      • May 10 2012: You deliberately miss the point - and say I sound like a bastard too. Charming.

        The point which you bizarrely fail to acknowledge is that there are men who do not control their sexual urges. Pretending this isn't true helps no-one. People lie, cheat, steal, attack, abuse and kill all over the world - that is sadly the world we live in and thinking happy thoughts and wishing it wasn't true isn't going to change this.

        I'm so pleased you liked the word "consequence". Actions and choices have consequences. They can be what we wanted them to be and they can be the complete opposite. We have little or no control over most of these in our lives, we can simply do our best. For example, you have no idea whether leaving 5 minutes earlier or later is going to make a difference - but one of those things could mean that you end up in the wrong place at the wrong time when the bus is heading straight for you. However, there are choices we can make which may help us. We still can't guarantee that they will make a difference but you cannot deny in some cases that those choices mean that some may be able to avoid danger.

        Just because you don't share that view doesn't mean it isn't true for some people in some situations.
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          May 10 2012: i appreciate your sophisticated sense of little details, as you deciphered my message. so i recommend to use that power to decipher your own message.
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    May 6 2012: As a woman constantly judged by my appearance, until I open my mouth, I think that SlutWalk is a great start to developing personal philosophies regarding this topic of appearance and labels we put on ourselves and each other. As is the case with the "hoodie" in recent news.

    For those doing the Walk, it will get them thinking about whether there is a willful air in projecting whatever clothes they have on or a natural expression of their individuality. Is this just about the clothes? And what if the clothes were coupled with certain willful attitudes? Do women have to couple colourful wardrobes with modest attitudes to protect themselves? Personal fashion is a thoughtful process and may be a window into our own philosophies of how we hope to fit into society. Also, society is chock-a-block full of idiots who will have one-dimensional understandings of things, are we cognizant of that?

    For those watching, they need to realize that without knowing these people at all, daily fashion is not sufficient information to like, dismiss, value or dehumanize another person.
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      May 9 2012: People can legitimize just about anything with wit and intellectual fireworks but when it comes to the crunch, if you dress like a bone some dog will bite you.
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        May 9 2012: keyword: "dog" (tho total common sense what you said!)
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          May 9 2012: Indeed...I picked the words carefully. The attention you receive may be unwelcome as it is those people who are least accustomed to controlling their desires who will probably come on to you. The rational man may also try his luck but you can bet your bottom dollar that undesirables will first.
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        May 9 2012: what is your point here? just like dog's nature to bite a bone, men's nature to rape women? or it is in human nature to look down on other human beings? i refuse to accept that. this might be the case with our instinctive animal selves. but our civilized self is there to override such impulses. having instincts is not an excuse, like having a stomach is not an excuse for stealing food.
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          May 9 2012: No...not rape...have sex. You can be as rational as you want about sex but it is the greatest driving force in nature and while intellectuals repress their desires in order to be more socially acceptable and end up with stress, frustration and complexes into the bargain, more basic, instinctual individuals act on their desires. They may offend a few people along the way but they'll live without the repression and stress.

          Anyone who overrrides their natural impulses to reproduce in order to be more socially acceptable is shooting himself in the foot if he's at all interested in passing on his genetic inheritance.

          When it comes down to it, don't women want men to go that little bit crazy for them? Would they be happy to see their potential partner acting in any other way than mad with desire for them? No woman wants rationalized, sensible sex.
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    May 2 2012: There's a risk that SlutWalk does exactly what misogynistic men want: it shows women who "fight back a little", without really disrupting the status quo.

    Misogynisistic, rape minded, objectifying men may find satisfaction in this "binarisation" of positions. It confirms the idea that sex is a battle between the sexes. Instead of it being a harmonious fusion where sexual differences disappear.
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    May 1 2012: It amazes me that no one sees the judgement forced onto men because of the way they dress. Go and stand in the lobby of an office building in a major city and see all the men dressed identically. It isn't only women that are judged by thier appearence. Why do I need to wear a tie to sit at a computer or make phone calls?
    • May 1 2012: What I hear you saying is that men suffer from expectations of dress, which I completely accept.

      I think that this applies to Slutwalk in that Slutwalk is a commentary on all aspects of rape culture, including male victims. I don't know that expectations of dress codes in office buildings contributes directly to sexual violence.

      I think it is important to recognize that the way a person dresses does not make them more deserving of violence done to them.

      Slutwalk specifically strives to strike down the myth that what you wear has any correlation to your odds of becoming a victim of sexual violence, which indeed is a myth.
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        May 1 2012: Of course there is no justification for any violence against anyone at any time. I just wanted to point out that as humans we draw all sorts of unjustifiable conclusions about others based on physical appearance. It's an issue that extends into many forms of discrimination from sexual harrasment to racism to people that assume that if you're deaf you must also have a cognitive deficiency.