Slutwalk Dublin: would you do it?

By Aisling | July 7 2011 | 108 Comments

“Don’t tell us what to wear. Tell men not to rape”

We’ve seen Slutwalks taking place in the past few months in cities around the world and surely it’s only a matter of time before one is organised in Dublin.   In a nutshell the message is one of female empowerment: women have the right to wear whatever they like.  It all happened when a backlash arose against a Canadian police officer and his  admonition that women should avoid dressing like sluts if they don’t want to be raped.

Incredible.  The outrage galvanised the whole Slutwalking movement into action.

Rape is the only crime where the victim is treated like a criminal.  Where she is somehow seen to be “asking” for it if she wears clothes which don’t cover her fully down to the ankles and up to the neckline.  Where she must prove in a court of law that she was not in fact asking for it by her attire and her behaviour.  A process which in itself is so brutal, invasive and harrowing to the victim that most cases of rape are not taken to trial

So women should forget their miniskirts and low cut tops just in case it’s seen to be provoking men?  That’s obviously nonsense and the part of the Slutwalk movement I’m in total agreement with.  After all 99.9% of men – normal men -know that No means No and rape is never ever ever excusable.  But because of our cultural attitudes to rape it all gets very confused.

And here we come to the part that troubles me.  Rapists are not normal men.  They are vicious sex offenders and for them rape has got nothing to do with sex – it’s about power and degradation.  They don’t care if women are dressed like nuns, wearing burka or are eighty years old.  All of the former have been victims of violent rape of course.

Rape has got nothing to do with how women dress.  But Slutwalking does highlight how the casual assumption that women are “asking for it” is pervasive and endemic and the main reason why rape is excused again and again.  Leaving rapists free to rape again and again.

There’s a great article here with statistics from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and a Slutwalk Dublin Facebook page is already in situ – not a very big one – but from small acorns and all that.

What do you think?  Will you be joining the march if it goes ahead?

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108 Replies to "Slutwalk Dublin: would you do it?"

  • Jules says:

    I would not. I agree, clothing has nothing to do with it, rape is about power and harm HOWEVER women have more to offer as voices of protest and change than dressing provocatively. No means no, regardless of a woman is wearing, but while the Slut march movement does get a lot of publicity I don’t see how it will achieve the ultimate goal of teaching young men as well as young women how to prevent rape, nor do I think it will prevent men from objectifying female bodies. I prefer events such as Take Back the Night (popular in many US cities and in colleges) which encourage discussion, education, support and protest from both women and men.

  • Rosemary says:

    I’ll definitely be there if it goes ahead. If I want to dress like a slut, I’ll dress like a slut – it doesn’t mean anything, sexually or otherwise (although there is an argument to ask what a slut even IS now anyway; what does it mean? Aren’t we all quite promiscuous, by old-fashioned standards?).

    Jules, would you not fight for the right for women to dress in an exposed way, without it being deemed provocative? I think that’s the point. If I want to dress “like a slut”, it’s not because I’m trying to be sexy or provocative. It’s because I feel like it.

  • Kirstie says:

    Take Back the Night appeals to me more as well – more positive action seems to be involved:

    Tying the word slut inextricibly in with a march against rape sits badly with me, no matter the excellent intention.

  • Macloon says:

    No way. Just a load of idiots looking for an excuse to wear half nothing and get attention. Half Dublin will be out in force leering.

    I’m sick of the over sexualisation of clothes and indeed everything in contemporary culture.

    It was revolutionary in the 60’s when miniskirts made their appearance

    It would be morerevolutionary now to cover up a bit.

  • Rosemary says:

    I really hope Macloon is a man, my least favourite thing (possibly in the world) being women hating on women.

  • Jules says:

    Rosemary, I respect your points, absolutely. I think for me it is that (like Kirstie) I am troubled by tying the word slut with the march as it seems (especially in terms of some world press) that the focus is drawn to the word and not the important message.

    It also troubles me that (as far as I have seen–please correct me if I’m wrong!) that the Slutwalk movement has focused on female empowerment but has not really addressed the fact that men and children, as well as grown women, can be victims of rape and that women, as well as men, can be rapists.

  • amelie says:

    Kirstie – totally agree. Slut & Rape are two words now linked together and I’m not too happy about it. I understand what these women are trying to do but banners such as ‘Slut Pride’ are just giving more weight to the word ‘slut’

  • Rosemary says:

    Okay really the “women as rapists” thing really irritates me, because the vast majority (and this is not a sweeping statement) of rapists are men, and a tiny number of women who engage in unwanted sexual behaviour (which I am loathe to call rape) doesn’t change that.

    The fact of the matter is, the act of sex, and the language around it, means (to paraphrase Susan Brownmiller, or Andrea Dworkin, can’t remember which) that men are the ones who do the fucking, while women, by default, are the ones who get fucked.

    And I will happily march for my right to act like and dress like a slut, whatever that means.

  • Emmie says:

    I beg to differ, Macloon. I will absolutely be there, and not for any other reason than the one intended. I think it’s pretty disgraceful that you could belittle something like this to be nothing other than an attention grabbing event. And someone wearing what they want to does not make them an idiot, in fact thinking so would make you one. And just in case you’re wondering, no I am not the kind of girl to go out, to an event like this or otherwise, showing a lot of skin. I wear what I like and everyone should be able to, without the fear of being sexually assaulted and if god forbid they were, being told that they were ‘asking for it’, and that is what this is about.

  • Macloon says:

    Like kirstie says, There is absolutely no correlation between rape and a person’s clothing.


    Just an excuse to parade around the place

  • Trillian says:

    Agree with amelie, Kirstie & Jules.

  • Lisa says:

    Julie, I don’t think young women need to be taught how to prevent rape *at all*. I think men need to not rape.

    I have slightly mixed feelings about the whole Slutwalks thing (is a term we want to reclaim?) but would probably go to one if it was organized. I think the whole point of it is actually what Kirstie was talking about above: to emphasise that what you’re wearing has nothing to do with how, er, rapeable you are, be it a bondage dress or a burka. And I totally agree that rapists mightn’t care what you’re dressed like, but – and this is the important thing – the legal system/police/juries might. Sure she was wearing a tiny skirt! She must have wanted it! Even though he was a big smelly total stranger! NOT GUILTY! And that’s an idea I’d like to piss off and die, thanks.

    Also the photos I’ve seen of friends at Slutwalks in other cities showed that lots of women (and men) turned up dressed in regular clothes. Which, obv., don’t invite rape either.

  • Macloon says:

    We already have the right to wear what we like ffs

  • Kirstie says:

    Aisling wrote the post, peeps!

  • Eve says:

    The name really bothers me too – if they changed it I would go.

  • Lisa says:

    Argh, sorry, not Kirstie, Aisling. Have lost ability to read, obviously, and totally believe that you are different people with your own hopes, fears, dreams, and aspirations. :)

    Macloon, yes, of course we have the right to wear what we like. But we don’t necessarily have the right to wear what we like and not have judgements about our credibility, morals, etc. made as a result. Possibly dangerous judgements, eg when reporting a rape to the police.

  • glitzfrau says:

    I had similar qualms about gaining publicity by prancing about in public in saucy clothing – and it’s true that scantily-dressed women gain headlines for feminism where dull old women in jeans don’t. However, Lisa’s right – on Slutwalk Manchester, most of the people there were dressed in everyday clothes, and a good third, to my delight, were men (some in saucy frocks too).

    I was really moved by how positive the whole experience felt – being in a group of feminists of all genders and ages making an important point and having fun in public was ace. It’s an old 70s message, but it’s true – there’s strength and solidarity in coming together. Just for that feeling, I think anyone who’s angry about the way rape is treated and reported should think about going on a SlutWalk.

  • Lisa says:

    To reiterate, I do have a bit of a problem with the name, but at the same time I can see where they’re coming from: “If you’re going to call me a nasty name for doing something perfectly harmless, ie wearing revealing clothes, and if that’s all ‘being a slut’ means to you, then, yeah, I’m a slut”.

  • Aisling says:

    Lisa – no problem! People think Kirstie and I are the same person. After all who’s actually ever seen us together…

  • gobo says:

    Just because it’s called a slut walk does not mean you need to dress sluttishly to attend, as is pretty obvious from the photo. Macloon; Kirstie did say there is no correlation between dress and rape and that is one of the points being made. While you, Kirstie, I and many others may beleive this, there are many who don’t (e.g. the canadaian cop’s statement about not dressing like a slut being the best way to avoid being raped. What’s next, not leaving the house?) particularly within the justice system.

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