Friday, March 9, 2012

Virtual Book Tour: A Book For Sex Nerds

Today Best Sex Writing 2012's Virtual Book tour makes a stop here at Donuts & Desires. I laughed when, in the book trailer (below), editor Rachel Kramer Bussel referred to BSW as "a book for sex nerds" because that sounds like a club I want to join. If you're going to be a nerd, why not go all the way? Am I right?

The first article in this book is a "SlutWalk" piece called "Sluts, Walking" by Amanda Marcotte.

Now, since the SlutWalk originated in Toronto and I happen to live in Toronto (and with the recent news, as issued by Rush Limbaugh, that we women are all a bunch of sluts--who knew?) I was immediately drawn in. I really enjoy the tone of this article, so I'm going to share an excerpt with you today.

from "Sluts, Walking" by Amanda Marcotte:

Toronto police officer Michael Sanguinetti probably thought of himself as a noble warrior against the arbiters of political correctness when he claimed, at a crime safety seminar at Osgoode Hall Law School, that the key to keeping men from raping you is to “avoid dressing like sluts.” But what he actually ended up doing was putting the final nail in the coffin of the narrative of the “humorless feminist” vs. the yuk-yuking sexists who have a monopoly on the funny. A group of men and women who were outraged at this supposed rape prevention advice responded by organizing a protest march to the front doors of the Toronto Police Service, and with a cheeky nod to Sanguinetti’s comment, called the whole thing “SlutWalk.” They also encouraged attendees to dress however they liked, including in all sorts of clothes that are commonly understood to be “slutty,” in order to drive home the point that clothes don’t cause rape—rapists do. The idea was to fight hate with humor, and fight violence with cheek and irony.

Organizers certainly wanted attention, but they probably didn’t have any idea what kind of attention the concept of sluts walking would get. In retrospect, the subsequent media blitz should have been predictable. The word slut probably generates more click-throughs than any other word on the Internet, after all, and the idea of sluts marching in protest, instead of simply sucking and fucking away in their relegated role as fantastical creatures of the pornographic imagination, was shocking enough that people simply couldn’t stop talking about it. Clearly there was a strong need to remind people that because a woman may want to have sex with some people doesn’t mean she has to take all comers—so international SlutWalk was born. SlutWalks were conducted in LA, Boston, Brisbane, Amsterdam, São Paulo, London, Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Cape Town, just to name a few. Women all over the world wanted to say they had a right to wear what they want and go out if they want without giving carte blanche to rapists to assault them.

Making the movement international was helped in part because the message of SlutWalk is straightforward. It’s an update on the Take Back the Night rallies. Back when those were formed, feminists were saying, “Hey, we should be able to leave our houses after dark without getting raped.” Now we’re adding to that list a few other things we should be able to do without some dude raping us and having people excuse it as if rapists were a kind of vigilante police force assigned to the task of keeping bitches in line: wear what we want, go to parties, have as many sexual partners as we like, drink alcohol. Eventually we plan to reach a point where women enjoy the freedom of men to do what they like without the inference that you have it coming if someone rapes you.

SlutWalk drew the inevitable controversy that attends women saying they have a right to do what they want without being punished for it by the traditional methods of putting women in their place, such as forced childbirth or being mauled by rapists.

Certainly, right wing responses to SlutWalk were predictable for this. The right-wing ethos is to demand that women’s sexuality and social lives be constrained with the threat of unwanted childbearing, STDs, and sexual abuse, and therefore they quite predictably defend abortion regulations, anticontraception propaganda in schools, men who catcall women on the streets, and defense attorneys who use the “she was asking for it” tactic to get their rapist clients off the hook. The predictability of these right-wing responses relegated them to background noise, no more worth debating than that grass remains green and the sky remains blue.

No, what distressed SlutWalk supporters was the noise from feminists denouncing the effort, primarily on the basis of a profound misunderstanding of the use of the word slut. For some reason, critics got it in their head that SlutWalk was about reclaiming the word slut, though their refusal to hear participants who denied that there was any kind of reclamation project going on inclines me to think they just wanted to get angry that young women were wearing miniskirts without apology.

There's much more to this article, and it gets even better!

A woman I know through one of my volunteer positions once said to me, "I always wonder about that saying, Fathers, lock up your daughters. When there's a rapist on the loose it's, lock up your daughters, lock up your daughters! I always think: why are we locking up our daughters? They're not the ones committing the rapes. Why don't we say, Fathers, lock up your sons?"

I kept thinking about that conversation while reading Marcotte's article.


Giselle Renarde
Canada just got hotter!

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