Strut like a slut!

So there we were, walking down Independence Avenue, singing, chanting and holding up protests signs that read “it’s a dress not a yes”, “no means no”, “if she was asking for it, why couldn’t you”, just to name a few. My friends and I had decided earlier that month (April 2021) that we would be part of the Slut Shame Walk, it was going to be our first. The experience was amazing. Being surrounded by so many people that believed in the same things you did and that were not afraid of expressing themselves in whatever way they wanted or felt comfortable in was beautiful to witness. More importantly, as someone that loves everything about social activism including protests and demonstrations directly linked to human/women rights I really had a good time.

 

The first time I heard about the Slut Shame Walk was when Amber Rose, a known advocate for female sex positivity lead her own movement a few years ago, everything about it fascinated me, from how the women (and men) expressed themselves with their choice of clothing to the awareness on sexual assault/abuse against women and social injustice. But what did I really know about The Slut Shame Walk Movement? To me, it was a movement about defying rape culture, challenging the use of derogatory labels against women and basically owning femininity and sexuality without fear of judgement. At the time I felt I was well-informed and understood it, until an older woman on the streets that day pulled me to the side and asked me and I quote, “What is this slut shame walk about? What does it mean to you?” and I instantly went blank. I did of course answer it to the best of my abilities, although not in a way that satisfied me. It was then, that I realised that I didn’t fully understand the depth of walking down those streets and the importance of supporting the Slut Shame Walk Movement. I decided to go down a spiral of research. These are the questions I focused on, as I was doing my research: What exactly is the Slut Shame Walk Movement? Why is the Slut Shame Walk important? Why do we want to reclaim the word “slut”?

 

The feminist movement first started in 2011 in Toronto, Canada, before it became a global movement. Namibia’s first Slut Shame Walk was held in April 2019 and although I was not part of it, it looked like a great success. Protesters during the walk usually wear “slutty” clothes, which would intially, if uninformed, make you think that the movement only wants to promote women that wear revealing clothes, but that is not the case. The walk is also for women that don’t wear certain types of clothes, it is for all women, including transgender women, because all types of women are at risk of being sexual harassed or sexual abused no matter what they wear. The beauty of it all is that women living in more conservative countries, like India, are also part of the movement. This proves that The Slut Walk is much more than just wanting to wear revealing without being subjected to degrading comments or labels, but that it is so much more. It seeks to bring an end to rape culture, shed light on social injustices, spread awareness on the dangers of victim blaming, slut shaming and body shaming and overall gender equality. I therefore think some people criticise the movement, because they don’t take time to actually understand what it stands for.

 

The original definition of the word “slut” didn’t even have any sexual connotation to it, until later centuries –just like homosexuality as a sin wasn’t initially in the bible, a story for another day- Although the word wasn’t necessarily a compliment either, it was never meant to be used as an insult for women’s relationship with their sexuality to begin with. The Slut Walk Movement emphasizes reclaiming this word, which I support! However, there are women that feel reclaiming the word slut is not a suitable solution or that it’s simply wasting of time trying to reclaim a word that has been used an insult for ages, which I will never hold against them, but I personally feel that the word does need to be reclaimed because it is still used as an intent to cause harm. I therefore coincide with the definition that a slut is “a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.” Using the word on yourself would mean that it could never be used as an insult against you.

 

All in all, women have every right to embrace their sexuality in any or every way they want without being slut shamed, harassed or abused. The Slut Walk Movement helps us to recognise this and we couldn’t have asked for a better movement.

 

“You can never slut shame me, because I am 100% a slut.”

February 2024
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