SlutWalks v. Ho Strolls

Courtesy of Indybay.org

Today, we had initially planned to bring you a review of the new groundbreaking book Hey Shorty: A Guide to Combatting Sexual Harassment in Schools and on the Streets. And you can read it here. But in light of the SlutWalk movement that broke out in Toronto earlier this year and the embrace of the movement in U.S. feminist mainstream over the last few months, I would like to add a few more thoughts to the discussion, in light of recent and much-needed calls on the part of feminists of color for a much more critical race critique in the SlutWalk movement.

SlutWalk Toronto started as an activist response to the ill-informed, misguided words of a Toronto police officer who suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Women in Toronto were enraged and rightfully so, and SlutWalks have become a way to dramatize the utter ignorance and danger of the officer’s statements. And on that note, I fucks very hard with the concept and with the response, which is creative, appropriate, and powerful.

What gives me pause is the claim in SlutWalk Toronto’s mission statement of sorts that because they are are “tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result,” they are reclaiming and reappropriating the word “slut.”  Um, no thank you?

Here’s the source of my ambivalence: as I read the mission statement, I was struck by the righteous indignation these women had over being called slut. While that indignation is absolutely warranted, it also feels on a visceral level as though it comes from women who are in fact not used to being fully defined by negative sexual referents.

Perhaps my cynicism reflects my own experience as a Black woman of the Hip Hop Generation in the U.S., or a Black woman who’s a member of the Western World period. It goes without saying that Black women have always been understood to be lascivious, hypersexed, and always ready and willing. When I think of the daily assaults I hear in the form of copious incantations of “bitch” and “ho” in Hip Hop music directed at Black women,  it’s hard to not feel a bit incensed at the “how-dare-you-quality” of the SlutWalk protests, which feel very much like the protests of privileged white girls who still have an expectation that the world will treat them with dignity and respect. 

The first activist response I ever heard to such mistreatment was Queen Latifah’s 1993 Grammy-winning song, U.N.I.T.Y.

It energized a community and opened a space for much needed conversation. But sisters did not line up to go on  symbolic, collective ho strolls. And for good, and I think, obvious reasons.

So maybe the best way to deal with the debates about re-appropriating the term “slut” is the way I deal with the whole n-word debate. As a Black person, who occasionally uses the n-word (with an ‘a’ on the end), I am admittedly ambivalent about whether or not the use of the term among Black people really does constitute a reappropriation. I’ve heard and read most of the arguments, and I remain…ambivalent but generally think the word is unproductive. That said, I balk at older Black folks who act as though the Hip Hop Generation are the first Black people to toss the word around. Read any 19th century Black literature and you’ll know different. What I’m clear about, however, is that to use or not to use is a decision that  lies solely within Black communities. White people simply don’t get a say; the word is off-limits to them. Black folks have surely won the right, long held by white folks, to struggle and determine amongst ourselves how we will refer to and define ourselves. Period.

For me, so it is with the word slut. It is off-limits to me. But for those who have been shamed, and disciplined, and violently abused on the basis of its usage, they have the prerogative to determine whether to reclaim or not to. As a word used to  shame white women who do not conform to morally conservative norms about chaste sexuality, the term very much reflects white women’s specific struggles around sexuality and abuse. Although plenty of Black women have been called “slut,” I believe Black women’s histories are different, in that Black female sexuality has always been understood from without to be deviant, hyper, and excessive. Therefore, the word slut has not been used to discipline (shame) us into chaste moral categories, as we have largely been understood to be unable to practice “normal” and “chaste” sexuality anyway.

But perhaps, we have come to a point in feminist movement-building where we need to acknowledge that differing histories necessitate differing strategies. This is why I’m somewhat ambivalent about accusing my white sistren of being racist. If your history is one of having your sexuality regulated by the use of the term “slut” for disciplinary purposes, then SlutWalk is an effective answer.

What becomes an issue is those white women and liberal feminist women of color who argue that “slut” is a universal category of female experience, irrespective of race. I recognize that there are many women of color who are participating in the SW movement, and I support those sisters who do, particularly women who are doing it in solidarity and coalition. But rather than forcing white women to get on the diversity train with regard to the inclusivity of SlutWalk, perhaps we need to redirect our racial vigilance. By that I mean, I’d prefer that white women acknowledge that they are in fact organizing around a problematic use of terminology endemic to white communities and cultures

In doing so, this would force an acknowledgement that the experience of womanhood being defended here–that of white women– is not universal, but is under attack and worthy of being defended, all the same.

Perhaps, also, if white women could recognize SlutWalk as being rooted in white female experience, it would provide an opportunity for them to participate in coalition and solidarity with similar movements that are inclusive and reflective of the experiences of women of color.

One example is the Stop Street Harassment movement– a multiracial movement that has led to “Stop Street Harassment” campaigns throughout the U.S. and abroad. It is that movement which is the subject of Hey Shorty!  This movement, too, works from the premise that streets and schools should be safe for women, but it recognizes that challenges to that safety while similar in some respects, can differ across race and class. And as I said, earlier, different histories necessitate different strategies. In that regard, I don’t think sisters will be lining up to go on a symbolic “Ho Stroll” anytime soon.

We’d like to hear from you. What are your feelings on these two movements and the connections and divergences between each?

crunktastic

89 thoughts on “SlutWalks v. Ho Strolls

  1. Pingback: SlutWalks v. Ho Strolls (via The Crunk Feminist Collective) « sistaoutsider

  2. Totally agree. First: I’m a white, on welfare, single mom, women. Second: I am also a survivor of abuse (by my dad and ex) and my ex called me a slut all the time, my dad called my mom a slut (in fact, my called me a slut the day I had our kid). I do not want to reclaim that word at all. My kid is 9.5 years old and do I want her to grow up thinking that slut is an empowering word? Fuck no. I find the word coming from an awful place of abuse and I really could care less about “taking it back.” Besides – will these marches end rape? Or abuse? Or street harassment? I’d rather do something more powerful and constructive, honestly.

  3. I don’t agree, because Black women have never been able to define our own sexuality we should be at the fore front of the SlutWalk movement. It is not just about a word, it is about being defined by our sexuality or lack-there-of, and here in America, Black women have been the lab rat of everybody’s sexual fantasies, tragedies, and domination except our own. I am not saying we need to take over this movement… You are right this is NOT our movement because of how it converged. If this was ours from the BEGINNING it would be a different story, but to piggy back ride would prove to be more detrimental. Word reclaimation is a farce forced on us by people mad they couldn’t publicly slur anymore, so they made up a slur for people who could still say the words bigots wanted to. All words belongs to all people … having said that, be careful where you share some words… My great point (lol) is that it is foolish to think because we have had our sexuality assigned to us a collective (Black women) that there is no need to embrace the fact that, that police officer was not just talking about White women. Everything you said is true, the reality of the situation is we need to march for our daughters, too, and the women in our lives… Maybe not this march and maybe not on our feet, but if there was a slut walk Toledo, Ohio, I would be there in solidarity with myself. Take out the words and the White women… It looks like our kind of fight.

  4. Awesome.

    I absolutely agree that white women have to stop seeing themselves as a monolith and as the default—we are so obviously NOT, it embarrasses me to know that it took me years to disengage from the assumption.

    This is one of the clearest examples I’ve seen (the “Slut Walk” and the associated problems you & others point out) of the problems with the assumptions of universality made by many white feminists. I wish I could walk this whole thing into a classroom right now, because this is so clear and so important. I’ll have to settle for sharing it with my daughter.

    PS~Just ordered “Hey, Shorty!” as well, thanks for the review.

  5. I found this on tumblr and wrote a response there, but I’ll post it here because I’m interested in your take:

    Bravo on the good piece. I appreciate ambivalence, and I think that’s just the attitude you have to have when it comes to issues of reclamation. However, as someone—a white, middle class woman—who is helping to organize a SlutWalk in Chicago, I sometimes worry that getting caught up semantics distracts from the real goals of a movement like SlutWalk. We’ve struggled with a lot of the same questions you have about the name and whether it is inclusive enough or truly represents our goals. We’ve spent a lot of time rebutting presumptions that SlutWalk is all about making women feel sexy, and struggled with our own ideas about the limitations of the term. We’ve evaluated our own privileges in being able to identify with and be involved with a movement like SlutWalk. But the fact of the matter is, we all share a common belief: that the shaming and silence of victims of sexual assault is damaging and a direct product of our culture.

    To be honest, even though I’m organizing SlutWalk, I haven’t thought a whole lot about the term “slut” as something I would use to identify myself. I’ve seen pictures of all different sorts of women at other protests — all of whom clearly had different cultural backgrounds, identities, and associations with the word. We see words like “slut,” “bitch,” and “ho” used in all different ways in our culture—we’d be stupid to think the vast majority weren’t negative, and by no means is our goal for every woman to proudly label herself with this words as an act of defiance. Everyone has their own ideas about what constitutes a “slut,” however, it’s not so much the words themselves that are the problem—it’s the way they’re used to represent an idea of how our bodies and sexualities are supposed to function in society.
    Fundamentally, I believe about SlutWalk is more about taking back power over your own body, but not based on whether or not you see yourself ever positively identifying with the word “slut” — based on speaking out against these ideas which have been institutionalized in our laws, attitudes, treatment of women — in addition to our language. I’m involved with SlutWalk because we need a movement—especially on a global scale—to call for the end of this oppression which gets excused so often because our anatomy supposedly implies our function and expectations. However, none of us want to action to end with a protest. We see this as a starting point for discussion, to bring together people who share these ideas and visions, as a means for continue direct action in both reform and radical revolts, on a level of both legislation and culture.

    I won’t speak for all of SlutWalk organizers, but I will say this: I’m glad that if nothing else, the choice in name was radical enough to call attention to all these issues. At the same time, the issue at the core of the message of SlutWalk — to end rape and misogyny — has united many of us. It’s encouraged people to speak out, people who may not have known of what to say on these issues before. What’s more, the fact that there isn’t a universal experience for women — that we all have our own privileges, social expectations, identities, and opinions — is crucial as well. Some of us will take the word “slut” as a compliment; others will be offended if the word is ever used against them. We’re individuals who defy the expectations of what someone of our gender should be, because we deserve to be treated with respect, and acknowledgement of our own free spirit and thoughts. We deserve to feel safe and free, regardless of what anyone thinks we should on the basis of our gender.

    All I can hope for is that SlutWalk will continue to unite people through dialogue and action, for organization to continue outside of the protest and carry on into the future, to make the world a better, safer place for women and survivors everywhere. So, feel free to disagree with whatever you don’t identify with — as long as it doesn’t divide us and we are still able to share a common goal. I hope that the protest will at least inspire you to stand up for your opinions and organize as well!

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks for reading and engaging the dialogue. As I indicated in the post, I’m not against SlutWalk. I respect it as a movement. And I agree with you that focusing on the reclamation of terms has the potential to obscure the real issues which are about violence and sexual assaults of women. On that we most certainly agree.

      I do take issue with what seem to be some of your assumptions in this response, however, and it was those assumptions that I was questioning in the piece.

      You wrote: “I believe about SlutWalk is more about taking back power over your own body, but not based on whether or not you see yourself ever positively identifying with the word “slut” — based on speaking out against these ideas which have been institutionalized in our laws, attitudes, treatment of women — in addition to our language. I’m involved with SlutWalk because we need a movement—especially on a global scale—to call for the end of this oppression which gets excused so often because our anatomy supposedly implies our function and expectations.”

      Your universal use of the term “our” obscures the very real, material ways in which “taking back power over our bodies” means different things based on race and class. If you are talking about poor women and women of color, taking back power is about a very real challenge to the power of the state not to regulate our bodies and sexualities (e.g. in welfare policy.) SlutWalk focuses on one aspect of the problem, namely dramatizing the problem with blaming victims based on sartorial choices. Even if this acts as an effective form of protest, it does not change the ways that the state itself does variable kinds of violence, in particular to the bodies of women of color, and that violence is not at all based on clothing choice. So I again, I reiterate that while SlutWalk has legitimate aims, those aims are limited and not generalizable for all women.

      Your comment also seems to imply that SlutWalk in its “radical” choice of name and ability to raise publicity means that it is the genesis of the new movement. But you’ll note that my original piece pointed out the wonderful organizing happening in the Stop Street Harassment movement that has been going on for a few years, has a huge following of young activist women of color, and largely responds to similar concerns around sexual harassment on the streets and in other public and governmental institutions. So the question I would be asking is why SlutWalk has global resonance and the other movement has been less well-known? And I think that an obvious (but completely true) answer is that when white women cry out, this is always seen as an important issue.

      So rather than disagreeing with the movement, I encouraged solidarity with it. But solidarity is a political act that necessitates a certain degree of specificity. It does not diminish the import of your movement to specify that these concerns are white women’s concerns, and that in fact, white women have launched a movement around the specific ways you are mistreated in the street, without considering that women of color and other white women had been doing similar work for several years now. It is that kind of presumption of your (white female) experience as universal for all women that is infuriating and divisive. Yes, I know as the SlutWalk Chicago diversity statement says that women of color are participating. And I think with good reason. But women of color have always participated in white women’s activist programs even when they did not specifically take into account our experience, because we tend to be forward thinking of the broader implications of the social movements in ways that white women have the privilege not to be.

      So again, I support SlutWalk, even though I greatly disagree with reclaiming the name. But I think we should also recognize that largely the reason that SlutWalk is dominated by white women is because culturally and politically it reflects the experiences of white women, not women of color. If you wanna know, slut is the one derogatory term I’ve never had directed at me, and I’ve been called the n-word and the b-word, and in hip hop, ho as well. But never slut. I know that isn’t true for all Black women, and that many have been called it. But I think SlutWalk organizers ought to stop trying to work from white female experience and then ‘diversify.” This is why your solutions always have to be defended. If you would specify the origins of the activism as mostly relevant to particular communities, white communities, in my opinion you then can more critically engage with the limitations of your movement, stop trying to make all women believe it’s OUR movement, and think through how our movementS can work together for a common goal.

      Last thing: what I was really trying to open up space for in this piece was this question: How can white women legitimately name and respond to assaults based on their experiences as white women without recentering white womanhood as the default experience?

      To me that is the question…

      Looking forward to continued dialogue…

      • What a tough fucking question, but really important. For the record, I got that from the post, but appreciate it also succinctly here.

        I won’t pretend to know how to answer it. Right now it’s a puzzle I can’t quite wrap my head around. I can’t quite imagine how such things could be done without further centering white women or being a whiteladyfest. I think the sad truth is that a lot of feminism is a whiteladyfest anyway, so this idea exposes that further for me…I think white women would have to be acknowledging a lot of whiteladyfests and the fact that so much of it is whiteladyfest would make unconfortably visible (to white women) the centering of white women–not a reason it shouldn’t happen, but a reason it’s hard to make happen. But not acknowledging that something is specific to white women merely produces this false sense of universal experience, which in no way solves the problem. Sorry for rambling and basically repeating/rephrasing what you were saying, but I’m just trying to imagine the conditions under this would work. How can one say, “this is specific to my experience as a white woman” without inadvertently seeming to say “white women only”?

        It’s like the chicken and the egg for me. One the one hand, if feminist spaces were generally more inclusive and diverse (not pretending to be universal, but actually speaking to diverse experiences), addressing something as part of white experience might not seem so inherently othering…but they aren’t, so…

        Hopefully at least some of this makes sense. I’ll be thinking more about it. Thanks.

      • Word. Thanks for responding to my question. I hope you can understand that there is a certain difficulty in approaching this issue as someone of white privilege, and I absolutely do not mean to demean the experiences of woman of color nor try to equate the other, complicated ways oppression manifests itself. However, it’s important to also remember that there are many white women (involved in this movement and elsewhere) who don’t have the same privileges as someone like me — queer/trans, differently abled, or women of lower class also have the potential to be alienated in this way. I’m not trying to speak here on the behalf of white people or even the white organizers of SlutWalk, but merely of my own opinions.

        I also want to say that I’m intrigued by this lack of diversity you see within the main powers behind SlutWalk, because to be honest, now that you’ve pointed it out to me, it seems a little strange too in the context of my past experiences. I’ve lived in Chicago and organized/participated in all sorts of events and protests, and this seems to not be a typical experience, at least thinking back on the other things I’ve been involved with. I grew up around Detroit, which is notorious for institutionalized racism and segregation (even today), so the fact that all of the sudden I wasn’t surrounded by all white people all the time once I moved here and started getting involved in things I was interested in really stuck out to me in the beginning. Another interesting thing in this context is the fact that this is the first time I’ve been involved in organizing something explicitly feminist, and the three other woman I’m primarily organizing with are white — which is a first for me, in Chicago. I find many of the same things problematic within feminist organization today that you do, mainly in it only applying to the experiences of white middle class women (hello, this isn’t the second wave anymore — is it?). I don’t get behind that shit at all, and I think that’s the primary reason I never took opportunities on my campus or within the art community to align myself within the proclaimed feminists. Although I’m sure all of them care about ending oppression as much for underprivileged people as much as themselves, I just think we’ve moved beyond the point of getting a bunch of white women in a room to share their experiences with each other–or at least we should be.

        Okay, so, sorry to distract with such a lengthy explanation of my context. So in terms of this question: “How can white women legitimately name and respond to assaults based on their experiences as white women without recentering white womanhood as the default experience?”

        I don’t think it’s up for the white women to decide. Although we may always have the best intentions, one runs the risk of tokenizing someone or being otherwise ignorant and offensive in their behavior when they try to speak of experiences of those who do not have the same privileges. I know I can say on the behalf of at least my SlutWalk organizers that we’ve been aware of this problem and have struggled with it, but ultimately there are limitations. I’m glad that within my committee, I’ve had the opportunity to work with my friends who are feminists I identify with, while incidentally involving more voices from women who aren’t necessarily white, or even would openly consider themselves feminists. And I guess now that I think about it, this kind of ties in to what I’m trying to accomplish within my own specific duties as a SlutWalk organizers, which is to great a viral video campaign featuring local artists/poets sharing their work that relates to topics of empowerment, protest, and sexuality. I can only hope that if something like this gets off the ground, it can accomplish the “legitimate naming” of your question by directly giving people who aren’t white feminists a chance to speak of their own experience and opinions. However, these actions are not my attempt to be “inclusive” or anything like that — my larger goal is to better engage with the global movement and relevance of SlutWalk, and I choose to get the artists and organizers I’ve known and worked with on other efforts to get involved because I like them and we largely share the same ideas.

        I also feel that it can be a bit narrow to say that SlutWalk only pertains to the experience of white women, which I was trying to get at in my original response. Now, this is probably where it gets problematic for you, and the part I’m struggling with understanding. I know that objectification and oppression of women manifests itself in different ways because of different cultural and social elements at play. I also know that the rape culture can manifest itself into very real threats more often within different communities than for a white woman. A few years ago the woman with whom I was running the spoken word organization told me about how when we’d do shows (all guzzied up and whatnot) she’d have to change before she went back home, because if she didn’t try to conceal her body as much as possible, the harassment would be very vicious; the threat of her being raped based on her outfit in the neighborhood was much more tangible than for me when I traveled back home alone. Although I knew that there were subtle things I’d do to try to avoid being catcalled or harassed in my own neighborhood, I had never felt like I’d have to carry around an extra “don’t get raped” outfit for when I went back home.

        I don’t mean to narrow the complexities at work in all different sorts of settings into this one experience, however I think it’s a good example for what we do agree on as the true motivator behind SlutWalk. My friend had to reconcile two different cultural forces here — the perceived need to dress sexy to be successful and professional and the need to dress as modestly as possible to avoid being attacked — and the result was that she had to sacrifice her comfort for a better sense of security. Although I have my own experience with assault and victim-blaming, my privilege has allowed for a different experience — I feel much safer because I’m treated differently, as a white woman. In that sense, I don’t think it’s possible for me to examine the experiences of women of color without referring back to my own experience as a white woman, although of course it upsets me that someone I’d consider a close friend and collaborator would have to go through something like this.

        Situations like this are exactly what SlutWalk exists, as I’m sure you’re aware. I guess the main question I’m grappling with is, how doesn’t SlutWalk address these issues, and how can we? Even if we don’t relate these experiences back to our own, we still run the risk of tokenizing. Is the issue of reclaiming the word “slut” to really isolate those who aren’t white because of different cultural experiences? Or is there something else at work here? My opinion, as I was trying to state in my original response, is that misogyny and rape transcend where you grew up, who your parents are, and how much money you make. Rape culture is something every woman experiences, although it can manifest itself in different ways. Maybe the issue is that SlutWalk tends to say, “We should feel safe on the streets because it’s the people we know and trust who are going to rape us!,” when the threat of assault on the street is much more real for other communities. However, this treatment still qualifies as rape culture, which is what SlutWalk is meant to call attention to and destroy.

        I think that maybe this has a lot to do with the limitations of a protest. I definitely don’t see SlutWalk as the end all, be all of action that should be taking place to end misogyny. SlutWalk could have gone the route of protests for gender studies majors to reform campus security — but it didn’t. The goal is much broader. What this protest must lead to is further organization and direct action through legislation and reform of the treatment of both survivors and perpetrators of rape — outside the context of SlutWalk.

        I think I’ve said all I can say for now in terms of what one question, but now I have a question for you: In what ways, specifically, have organizers of SlutWalk isolated those who aren’t of white privilege, and what needs to change to better unite the cause in the future?

      • “In what ways, specifically, have organizers of SlutWalk isolated those who aren’t of white privilege, and what needs to change to better unite the cause in the future?”

        In some ways, I think that you keep missing the point I’m trying to make. Based upon our histories of sexual commodification, I don’t think Black women would ever think to organize a mass “Ho Stroll,” which is what I understand to be the Black women’s equivalent of SlutWalk. This fact alone bespeaks the ways in which SlutWalk is fully a white woman’s thing. Think about it. When the Black women who participate in the Stop Street Harassment movement thought to organize around being called bitch and sexually harassed as they walk to work or school, to my knowledge, it never occurred to them to organize a movement around the terms “bitch or ho” although these terms are routinely hurled at women of color (all women really) in a variety of contexts. There is a reason for that, namely that the terms do violence, and that Black women and women of color do not have the power to reclaim terms in the same way that white folks (and in this case white women) do. There is also the very real fear of Black women parading their bodies around and asking to be understood as a “reclaimed” bitch or ho or in your case slut. That shit is risky and frankly for Black women I think it would be wholly ineffective.

        In my estimation we need some new paradigms for dealing with the racial politics of feminist organizing that go beyond piecemeal gestures of inclusivity, which almost always find white women trying to prove that their movements ARE universal, and asking Black women to show why they’re not. And as the commenter “withoutscene” indicates above, my invitation to locate the term “slut” within white female experience was an invitation to really begin thinking about the politics and realities of whiteness in a different way, not an invitation to obscure those politics. For instance, what would it mean to think about “slut(ti-ness)” as invention of white cultural sexual pathology? What would it mean to frame the movement in these terms? Because then, there are also clear grounds for women of color to be involved, in the sense that we, too, are victims (with white women) of white cultural sexual pathology? See that’s a radically different notion of sluttiness as being part of white (female) cultural experience that automatically creates space for racial solidarity without forcing women of color to argue that our experience is the same as white women’s. It also means though that the officers original statement which inspired SlutWalk Toronto would have been understood UP FRONT as both a raced and gendered statement, rather than a gendered statement, that has engendered activism that must now make sure to include race.

        Regarding suggestions, having read your diversity statement, I suspect that you are being as vigilant as possible about being inclusive. The statement seemed genuine and sincere in that regard. So where you and I differ is on whether in action termed a “SlutWalk” can be racially universal or inclusive. In my opinion, it can’t. The good news is that while this is a limitation, it doesn’t mean that SlutWalk shouldn’t go forward or that women of color shouldn’t be involved. All activism has limitations.

      • Thank you for explaining your position further to me. I did not understand fully the point you were trying to make — the idea that black women wouldn’t organize in mass around the word “slut.” But, I think we can agree that this is a symptom of a larger problem, and not because the purpose of SlutWalk isn’t something that’s relevant to anyone who faces the threat of sexual assault. I’m speaking mainly to this:

        “When the Black women who participate in the Stop Street Harassment movement thought to organize around being called bitch and sexually harassed as they walk to work or school, to my knowledge, it never occurred to them to organize a movement around the terms ‘bitch or ho’ although these terms are routinely hurled at women of color (all women really) in a variety of contexts. There is a reason for that, namely that the terms do violence, and that Black women and women of color do not have the power to reclaim terms in the same way that white folks (and in this case white women) do.”

        For one, I want to point out that the Stop Street Harassment movement is different from SlutWalk. SlutWalk, at this point, is merely a series of global protests–the word “movement” is used to describe it in that context. I don’t think SlutWalk has the same potential as the Stop Street Harassment movement, in terms of being as fleshed-out and organized and appealing (for example, I can’t bring myself to tell some members of my family that I’m organizing something called SlutWalk — this is definitely due to the limitations that come from choosing such a name to identify with). While I do see as SlutWalk as a beginning to larger action, it wouldn’t (couldn’t, even) focus merely on the issue of reclamation, and I think it’s more likely that the result will be smaller, localized organizers rather than a potential for SlutWalk to become an international entity.

        I also have to say there is a divergence here in that I disagree since I know for a fact women of color have gotten behind the cause, without having to be coerced or debated or “explained” things (as it may seem like I’m trying to do here – I am just legitimately concerned with these issues, and it’s often hard for me to articulate my thoughts in writing except with great detail). I think those goes back to our original discussion about the ambivalence of reclaiming words. Since reclamation is more dependent on a long-span change of language and culture, I think it has the least to do with why people choose to get involved or support SlutWalk (or, at least, it should be — I’m sure some people are just in it for the aesthetic (possibly a key word in this discussion?)). Whether or not an individual ever has the power to reclaim a word is somewhat subjective for this reason as well, since it’s a matter of how a word makes an individual feel empowered vs. how other people view the use of the word. Reclamation is such an abstract subject, to be honest, since it has to do with the abstractions within language, and since language is pretty much a wholly invented system for describing mental impulses and synapses, where the power lies within language is always debatable.

        But, I think we can also agree that if someone wants to reclaim a word that’s been used to oppress them, they’re not doing any harm. If it makes them feel empowered, then that’s good! That’s what we want. So, if you don’t think that within non-white culture people feel comfortable enough to reclaim or choose to reclaim a word, don’t you think they at least should as much as a white woman? Don’t you think everyone should feel like they have the power to take back words used to hurt them, should that be what they decide to do? Take the fat acceptance movement, for example. Tons of people will refuse to see “fat” as a positive way to describe themselves for any number of valid reasons (that all common down to personal choice); many are beginning to use the word “fat” as a term to describe themselves because they want to accept their bodies. However, people can still unite behind fat acceptance because the cause is in the right place. I know the slur “fat” is very different from that of “slut,” however I mention this for the sake of analogy.

        So, here’s where we can see the failures of SlutWalk: that those organizing the Walks are primarily of white privilege and experience, and therefore are unaware of the reasons how the aesthetic implications of a name like “SlutWalk” isolates people of different experiences. It’s evident in this conversation, on my part. As you say “gestures of piecemental inclusivity” are not the same thing. The effects of an event like SlutWalk in the context of reclaiming words (and, in that way, effecting the visibility of rape culture) will not be immediately measurable, so it’s hard to predict if and how the effort will unite feminists from different experiences. However, would it be possible for you to see SlutWalk not as an enemy to issues of race in the context of misogyny, but rather a starting point?

        I think this article (http://feministing.com/2011/05/18/slutwalk-to-march-or-not-to-march/) is a good reference in the context of this discussion. Essentially, of course there are a ton of negative implications of a name like “SlutWalk” that was not previously realized by its white organizers — but ultimately, that’s not what the walk is about anyway. The walk is about ending victim-blaming, and that’s it — while some want to reclaim the word and identity of a “slut,” not everyone is expected to. In that sense, I still feel it is an event that people can identify and be involved with. (And as the article points out, many different people do.)

        So in terms of your question:

        “For instance, what would it mean to think about ‘slut(ti-ness)’ as invention of white cultural sexual pathology? What would it mean to frame the movement in these terms? Because then, there are also clear grounds for women of color to be involved, in the sense that we, too, are victims (with white women) of white cultural sexual pathology? See that’s a radically different notion of sluttiness as being part of white (female) cultural experience that automatically creates space for racial solidarity without forcing women of color to argue that our experience is the same as white women’s.”

        I just want to say, for someone who has claimed to be ambivalent about the issue of reclaiming words, it seems like your argument (at least in the most recent comment) actually does mostly pertain to the etymology and use of the word Slut. So, I decided to do a little research on the actual origin of the term (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=slut). The first recorded use of the word is Chaucer using it to describe an “untidy man.” I find this particularly interesting as our debate has focused largely on the issue of the word in the context of misogyny, although apparently it was not necessarily always a gendered term (and, you know, some would argue that today it isn’t either, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation that I know we’re not trying to have right now).

        So I’m just trying to figure out what you mean by “white cultural pathology” as being the inventor of the term. I mean, English is wholly a “white” language, so in that sense, our entire language is the product of whiteness. In terms of the pathological aspects, obviously at some point, it became a term used to describe women whose behavior didn’t adhere to sexually acceptable behavior (either willingness or resistance) — it seems that this must have happened at some point in the 19th or 20th century, so relatively recently, and probably while slavery still occurred in the United States (and without a doubt, institutionalized racism, since we all know how restricted the rights of black folks would be for generations after the end of the Civil War). However, it would seem to be that this word was never specific to any race, and for a long time not even gender — one could say that it may be more related to class than anything. It would also seem that the term being used specifically to demean women for their sexuality would coincide with the Victorian era and an over-all rise in the cultural ideal of purity in terms of health and hygiene. In this way, I can see how the effects of the word “slut” would be more damaging for woman of color than white women.

        So, anyway, to get back to my original point, unless I’m misinterpreting what you mean by “white cultural pathology,” it seems to me that you think the movement isn’t doing enough to point out the implications of the word for those who don’t have the identity of white culture and history. Perhaps you think that if the police officer had used the word “ho” instead of “slut,” the women in the audience wouldn’t have been able to identify enough with the term to organize a protest because it is more homogenized in our culture because of its connotations in hip-hop. If you think the expectation that SlutWalk is trying to defy is that white women should be demur (while it seems that you’re saying for black women it’s expected that they are enthusiastic) I’d have to disagree. The word in this context is formed around its usage as a term to control our sexuality in terms of rape, not who we try to sleep with — it was chosen for the irony when it’s obvious that women (and men, a somewhat understated reality that is also a product of choosing a gendered name like SlutWalk) get raped no matter how they dress or act.

        If the name (not the cause) isn’t universally representative, I still think that has to do with factors which may be affected by race but aren’t solely. Maybe if a name had been more carefully selected and wasn’t so dependent on nuance, things would be different. And I think when it comes to identity politics, everyone is allowed to have their own opinions about what they do or do not want to align themselves with. SlutWalk definitely has its limitations, however, with all of this in mind, I still wish more people would get behind it for what it’s actually trying to do. At the same time, I hope we can agree that despite these limitations, SlutWalk is doing more to move forward than to contribute to existing problems within race and class structure.

      • @Stephanie,

        I think our conversation is at this point becoming unproductive, because I think that you want to force me to agree on a range of issues that I simply don’t agree on/with, so let me go for an attempt at brevity.

        I affirm SlutWalk. I have said this in every comment thus far and in the original blog. I support it as a needed form of activism to combat the very problematic assumptions made by the Toronto police officer whose words and actions perpetuate rape culture in ways that make the world more dangerous for women and girls.

        I also support those women of color who choose to be involved in the movement, because I recognize and have noted that slut is often used to refer to Black women and I also recognize that there are plenty of parts of this movement that women of color feminists would identify with even if they disagree with the reclamation of slut or have no personal engagement with its usage. And again, I reiterate that this point was in my original post.

        As for your attempts to circumvent my challenges to the idea of sluttiness through a round of weak etymological arguments, all I can suggest, as lovingly as I possibly can, is that you need to continue work on white privilege, and in particularly the visibility of whiteness. The fact that you don’t see the notion of a slutwalk as something white folks but not Black folks would invent indicates that you still are not attuned fully to the cultural and political operations of whiteness.

        One of the ways that white privilege does its hardest and most infuriating work is to try to exhaust those who see it in action through copious debates about semantics. But the only folks I am obligated to teach about their whiteness is the students who enroll in my classes. Everyone else, yourself included, needs to educate themselves.

        I will however toss this in for free, :) : Another way to spot unchecked whiteness in operation is when folks get upset that the terms around which they organize existence/activism, etc. aren’t conceded. White folks are used to discursively organizing and dominating reality. Here I refuse to concede the legitimacy of the term “slut” as a universal feminist organizing principle. I do concede that it is legitimate for those women, especially white women who choose to identify with it. But rather than engage with the cultural deployments of slut, you scramble to reaffirm your right (as a white person or universal woman–same thing) to name reality. This is the height of white privilege and its a totally defensive move. I see it and I won’t react to it by further justifying my arguments in this regard.

        In that regard, I both regret (and frankly am becoming quite incensed at) your attempts to reduce my arguments about the slut versus ho distinction to an argument over semantics. As I noted in my last comment, the use of terms like ho, bitch, and slut have real material consequences in terms of violence, especially in the lives of Black women. And that is the point. Organizing a movement around a term is NEVER MERELY SEMANTIC as you rightfully point out.

        Frankly, your desire to force me to agree under the guise of continuing to dialogue feels a bit like intellectual bullying, and I’m not the one you want to try that on. Note that my position doesn’t require or seek your agreement. It is what it is. So why are you trying to force me to agree with you? Trust that I won’t. But I can get pissed. And you don’t want that.

        Respectfully, done.

        Crunktastic

      • Critique of Reclaiming the Word “Slut” from That’s Revolting, Sites of Resistance or Sites of Racism? by Priyank Jindal

        I found this really pertinent in my readings in That’s Revolting today w/r/t SlutWalks:

        “The queer sex-positive political agenda claims a woman’s right to fuck who she wants to fuck, reclaims the word “slut,” challenges the idea that a woman has to remain pure or untouched, and fights against the idea that she can never have agency in a sexual situation. It is also based in transgressing the ideals of white womanhood.

        I wholeheartedly support queer women’s desires to fuck without shame or stigma, and this is very much a part of political agenda for queer people of color. But reclaiming the word “slut” and fighting to not be considered pure don’t work as well when historically women of color have been on the receiving end of state violence in a way that has constructed us as always being sexually open; women of color can’t be raped because we’ve been considered sexually accessible throughout Amerika’s history of slavery and genocide. The current sex tourism industry, where white, straight men go to find “exotic” women of color and white, gay men go to find “exotic” men of color, and the frequent socially sanctioned sexual assault of women, men, and transgendered folks of color in prison and detention centers are two very obvious examples of the ways in which the historically racist and violent sexualization of people continues today.

        White women, on the other hand, have historically been constructed as inherently pure, and the perceived threats to that purity were created to maintain and construct racist perceptions of black men and to justify their subsequent lynching or, more currently, imprisonment. While white women’s bodies were always sexualized as virginal and appropriate, the bodies of women of color have been constructed as oversexualized and out of control in the creation of the white Amerikan nation, as is obvious by the methods of national containment; the racist myth of the welfare queen or the forced sterilizaion of over 200,000 black women in Amerika in the 1970s are just two of many examples. Our struggle as women and queer people of color is to fight for sexual agency, but to do this with a consciousness about how our oppression has functioned through the racialization of our sexualities.”

    • Right on, that’s fine. If you think I’m not approaching this in an appropriate way I apologize and I won’t press further for debate in favor on reflecting on what’s already been said some more. However I want you to know I have the utmost respect for your opinions (was not trying to intellectually bully you) and had the best intentions here. One of my co-organizers just made this post on our blog, and I think she makes some good points (although I don’t think she’s aware of this conversation that’s happened here). If you have any ideas of how to move forward from this point please refer to her, she says things much better than I can and is far more experienced when it comes to these things:

      http://www.slutwalkchicago.org/1/post/2011/05/about-being-an-ally-privilege-marginalization-naming-and-slutwalks-place-in-feminist-activism.html

  6. Thanks for bringing light to this protest & the appropriation of the term ‘slut’ & its complications. I’m adding it to my teaching.

  7. i’ve never been called a slut. in the black communities i’ve been in, it’s not a word that’s tossed around. i grew up around white people though and slut is a familiar word in that arena. now, bitches and hos, that’s designated for black girls. people create movements out of their experiences…which is why i’m feeling this:

    “But rather than forcing white women to get on the diversity train with regard to the inclusivity of SlutWalk, perhaps we need to redirect our racial vigilance. By that I mean, I’d prefer that white women acknowledge that they are in fact organizing around a problematic use of terminology endemic to white communities and cultures. ”

    and therefore as black women, we can march in solidarity, and white women can create a space for us wherein we have our prospective viewpoints and voices as well.

  8. withoutscene’s “How can one say, “this is specific to my experience as a white woman” without inadvertently seeming to say “white women only”?” Is exactly what I was thinking.

    I think there is a way to do it, but at the same time, I would imagine there is a lot of fear around white organizing, and what that represents in the historical context. In fact the kind of white organizing suggested here would be Radical. I’d love to see it. The key point though, it that the organizers have to be willing to see their whiteness in action in order to name it. “Ah, Huh, I feel deeply offended by the word slut, and the ideas I’ve formed around this word, because I am white, and I have always felt that as a white non-poor woman my default status should be sexually: innocent (or virginal), where being referred to as a slut automatically implies guilt, meaning I don’t deserve to be protected and safe.” and from there, decide if one want’s to organize around the construction of sexuality as guilt, and see how that manifests for non-white (i.e. blackness as excessive (animal) sexuality as guilt or latina as siren as guilt) and then work with whatever movements are happening around that, injecting ones white experience, or, organize around white women needing support in protesting how law enforcement treats white women in particular.

  9. I think the tone of these marches, and the precise aims, are different in different cases – there’s no one movement. As a disabled queer intersex person (who happens to be white) I’m used to having my sexuality regulated in ways which, again, differ from that assumed norm, but I’ve been welcomed to participate in the slutwalk here in Glasgow, Scotland, which has adapted itself to a broader narrative. For me the word ‘slut’ isn’t really at the centre of it; it’s a statement in response to terms of abuse, and the attitudes that go with them, more generally. I see it as akin to a Pride march in that it’s a way of saying, very clearly, “Yes, we know what you think of us, and we’re not ashamed of our sexuality.” There are certainly people around here who need to hear that.

  10. Black women’s sexuality has been hijacked , lied about, the works. People our Black girls are sluts, so why would I want to reclaim a word people already label us as , or label our children as? White women can take their walk, I don’t care if it doesn’t include me into it because it doesn’t apply to me. Before anyone tries to reiterate what’s already been Whitesplained to me-I know the idea of it, I understand how “ironic” it’s supposed to be-Yes we all agree that rape is bad. I just don’t agree with the way this movement is doing to get their message across. Their ability to just throw on some clothes and walk around nearly naked and then go to their respective homes ,come out with a suit later on that evening on the way to work,and still gain respect from peers is a privilege White women are subscribed to. We aren’t afforded the luxury of choosing to be “sluts” or “hoes”. We’re sluts by default. So no thanks.

    • “Whitesplained” for the win. I’ve been enriched by this conversation and so appreciate cfc for opening the dialog and for all you do. You rock.

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  15. Here via LJ’s “feminist” community. I read your whole post, then skimmed the comments. The following thoughts are stream-of-consciousness.

    For me, this conversation seems to set up a white-black duality: the existence of an event organized by white feminists that apparently reflects a “white” experience of femaleness and that somehow excludes/does not reflect the experience of “women of color” (which often seems to be used synonymously with “black women”).

    Now I’m wondering where, exactly, someone like me fits into the dichotomy. I was raised lower-middle-class in the South by two Asian Indian immigrants. I’m out as queer/bisexual, and my gender presentation is fairly conventional, though not especially feminine (i.e., more likely to wear pants rather than skirts, but have long hair.) I don’t personally enjoy wearing tight/revealing clothing, which means I’m more likely not to be noticed by crude/cat-calling males than to be called words like “slut.” (though I’ve still gotten some unwelcome whistles, calls of “lesbo” and “dyke,” etc.)

    But if I’d heard about SlutWalk before this post, which I hadn’t, I’d have felt included. I’d have felt part of the larger community of women – which, as you point out, apparently is not “all women” – who feel personally targeted by and upset about “slut” and its implications. (For instance, I rarely get called slut because I’m not likely to wear the sexy clothes or to make the particular sexual choices that often prompt that slur, but on reflection, my choices have probably been influenced in small part by the desire not to be viewed as a slut, on a subconscious level – though I’ve never considered the point before now.) I don’t personally feel as though slut is “endemic to white communities and cultures” ONLY. Put differently, I don’t feel in any way immune from “slut” because I’m non-white. For instance, my sister – whose choices re: dress and sexual relationships differ from mine – has routinely encountered use of the term as an Asian-American in middle America, from whites, blacks, and Asians. I wouldn’t want white people reading this discussion to feel that slut has no relevance in any minority communities.

    This sentence didn’t sit well with me, either: “which feel very much like the protests of privileged white girls who still have an expectation that the world will treat them with dignity and respect.” I don’t come from an especially privileged background (except to the extent that to be American comes with a lot of privilege). And I certainly don’t come from a white background. But damn it, I have an expectation that the world will treat me with dignity and respect – respect both for my skin color and my gender. How on earth is that a(n exclusively) white, privilege-driven concept?

    So…I’m not one of the liberal feminists of color you’re referring to, who are going to insist on the universality of “slut.” Your post makes clear that it is not universal. But I do object to your post’s strong implication that “slut” is a “white experience of womanhood,” that women of color participating would be doing so in solidarity with white women (rather than in their own capacity), and that these events are not inclusive of (at least some) women of color and their experiences, etc. I feel you are speaking quite broadly, and in particular, that your post (while complaining about insufficient consideration being given to women of color by white women) ironically does not even manage to acknowledge the experiences of non-black women of color, which may in some cases fit imperfectly, if at all, into the dichotomy you have outlined.

    • @Confused,

      I hear you and take to heart the lack of nuance with which I have engaged the relevance of this post for the broader community of women of color. I think you are correct that the post fundamentally pivots around a white vs. Black feminist dichotomy, which I am actively trying to broaden in my scholarship and thinking. And I fully acknowledge that my thinking about feminism primarily comes from a Black feminist paradigm and experience and is buttressed by the work of a range of women of color I admire.

      I did, however, attempt in the original post and in the comments to fully acknowledge that there are a range of reasons that all kinds of women would be involved in SlutWalk. I didn’t merely suggest that women of color would engage solely out of solidarity rather than personal experience, because as both the blog post and the comments note, plenty of Black women and WOC have been called slut.

      I disagree for all previous reasons stated with the notion that “SlutWalk” is a universal feminist organizing term, both because I think it is rooted in white cultural pathologies around sexuality which have at based influenced all Western women’s engagements with sexuality, no matter their race. I also just don’t believe in “universal feminist” organizing. I think specificity that is buttressed by acts of solidarity and coalition are the most effective forms of organizing, and we can’t get to notions of solidarity and coalition unless we are clear about the communities that we are coming from and speaking alongside.

      I think your investment in the notion of slut as universal because it is applied universally misses the way that certain derogatory terms toward women take on a raced quality depending on how their deployed. Most women have been called bitch, whore or slut, at some point, but when we think of contemporary deployments of the terms bitch and ho, particularly together, Black women come to mind, courtesy of hip hop culture.

      As a person who moves in a diverse community of Black and WOC feminists activists, most of the women I’ve talked to, all of whom are WOC (black included) think of this as a “white girls thing.” I fully recognize that the problem with such generalizations is that plenty of feminists of color can line up at the door and disagree and I affirm your right to do that as well. Interestingly though, the most strident critiques I’ve read of this movement come non-Black women and men of color, [http://www.peopleofcolororganize.com/activism/slutwalk-whiteness-privilege-sex-trafficking-women-color/] including the link that is in the first paragraph of the original post.

      So again, I affirm SlutWalk and its broader relevance. I also stand by my critique of its limitations. And I remain committed to being more thoughtful about both my use of the term WOC and my engagement with the experiences of non-Black women of color.

      Thanks for reading.

      Crunktastic

      • Thanks for your understanding response. I appreciate your further thoughts, and your understanding my concern with respect to the diverse experiences of women of color. Thanks again for a thought-provoking piece/discussion.

  16. Thanks for this post. I guess you could say I am a “new” feminist, in that I have recently been learning more about feminism and the misogyny of our culture. I became interested in slutwalk when I first heard of it and while I understood the inherent issues with attempting to reclaim the word (which I am still very ambivalent about) and the possible over simplification that the walk risks, I didn’t have an understanding of the arguments of privelege and how the walk inherently excludes women of color. Your words sparked an “aha!” moment that also made me realize aspects of my privelege as a white woman that I had not previously confronted. I appreciate that you did not invalidate my experience as a white women in our patriarchal culture when pointing out that the issues and the tactics for feminists of non-white, middle class backgrounds are inherently different. I.e. the slut label and the sexism it represents in the context of slutwalk is important, but it cannot (and should not) speak for all women. I want to stand in solidarity with the women of color who are tackling issues of gender and race.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. I look forward to reading more from you and your co-contributors.

  17. Thank you for this thoughtful and incisive article; I’ve been thinking about this stuff at length as well (I am also one of the SlutWalk Chicago organizers), and I also agree very much with the solidarity/coalition model of thinking.

    I put this up on our blog today re: the necessity of admitting that one is privileged in certain ways/the necessity of listening to others when it comes to being an ally:
    http://www.slutwalkchicago.org/1/post/2011/05/about-being-an-ally-privilege-marginalization-naming-and-slutwalks-place-in-feminist-activism.html

    Which is an outgrowth of this older post:
    http://rebelrebelbatcat.tumblr.com/post/5550369238/intersections-of-oppression-and-privilege

    We’re planning on hosting an open forum to talk about race/class discrepancies and other marginalizing forces/the perpetuation of oppressions within feminisms either before or after SlutWalk Chicago (it’d be best to do it beforehand, I think but since our walk’s in ten days the logistics suggest that we might have to do this after the walk). It’s just one thing that can be done, but in order to build solidarity and coalition and to address real, genuine racism/classism/discrimination against folks based on ability, gender ID, and so forth within feminisms I feel like facing it and talking about it and listening to one another is so key. I just wanted to post here to thank you for your thoughts; I’ll be listening no matter what, and I hope other white feminists who care about ending oppression in all of its forms are as well.

    • Thanks, Jessica. I read your post.

      This line from the other link you posted captures my feelings succinctly:
      “I am more than proud and happy to stand in solidarity with other projects working toward egalitarian ends, even if I don’t feel like those projects are for me (sometimes they’re not).”

      I appreciate your vigilance and willingness to listen and to engage. I hope SlutWalk Chicago is a great success!
      All good wishes,

      Crunktastic

  18. Thank you for this post. I have read a couple of other posts/articles about the white privilege inherent in the concept of SlutWalk but it didn’t sink in until I read your piece.

  19. I have to say it is disturbing and counter active to always turn every issue into a racial one. It is unfortunate in this day and age after what our founding fathers and others before us have done to create civil rights that we still can only argue about things based on stereotypical definitions of “white women/black women”. I think it’s safe to say EVERY culture in this world have issues they face and to always bring up old business does not help us move forward. I’m sorry I just don’t get it. I wish some people would just stop fueling that fire. YES! SLAVERY WAS WRONG! So has been all of the other crimes of humanity in several other countries and eras over the years. It’s called forward progress and a little unity please.

    • @MamaChef

      You so very clearly don’t get it.

      You are basically trying to tell people who question the movement’s personal relevance to “get over it” which is something that I find offensive.

      As I see it, this is not about stereotypical definitions of “white women/black women”. It is about the very real and different ways in which people move through life in this country…one of those differences being skin color. Trying to shove issues on others by calling all women “one” is quite selfish. It completely erases and invalidates the experiences of others, this is something that an oppressive group attempts.

      We are not talking about slavery, and the fact that you went there, tells me that you either have a great deal to learn, or that you just wanted to throw flames. Clearly, you did not comment in order to engage in any kind of meaningful discussion.

      I completely agree with Crunktrastic– We need to figure out a way that all groups, including white women and people of perceived privilege, can speak out about the ways in which they are experiencing oppression. That’s when we can all stand together. It’s finding the commonality, not forcing to me to jump on a bandwagon for something that isn’t my experience just because we share similar body parts.

    • Slavery’s over! No more problems! That’s it everyone, we can all pack up and go home now.

  20. I’m really interested in having an effect on this issue, but you know what, 50,000 words is way too much to explain yourself.If something has to be described in that complex and wordy fashion, I think you will find yourself marching alone. Please get over yourself and get something done.

    • Really? That’s your contribution – “It’s too long and therefore it’s not relevant?” (as if you’re the arbiter of what’s relevant?) Perhaps you should take your own advice, and get over *yourself.
      It’s important that we engage thoughtfully on important issues around race, sexuality, gender, class, and activism. It’s important that we not rush to make convenient soundbites. And it’s important that we recognize that just doing something for the sake of getting something done isn’t always the best course of action. And if you’re really interested in having an effect on this issue, you’re going to have to *listen to what people have to say – especially when those people are more directly impacted than you are by the issues you claim to have an interest in affecting.
      Telling us to shut up, or to adhere to your standards of what is acceptable discourse, or to otherwise maneuver these issues in a way that’s comfortable to you makes you a part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  21. I am white, I was born white. My family was/is racist (of course only in the nicest ways). Much of my life I have been a queer pressing my nose against the glass of the str8 feminist movement. Now that I am a senior, I am discovering that I have to deal with ageism. The Second Wave was segregated in so many ways and we read how there were many movements. We can’t go back and fix it. Shame won’t change it. But I can tell you that each of us can dig deep for the courage to do it differently. I stand with straights, with young progressives, with people who might not be the predicted choice. So far, without exception, if I am open – I am welcomed. We can talk all day about one v. another experience but at some moment all those seeking equality under the law, equal opportunity, equal wages, and an open society have to out number the oppressor and, hopefully, behave as we wished it had been for us.
    SlutWalk, Ho-Stroll, Equality March, Labor uprisings, organized boycotts, MOVE the MARKER towards change, release the status-quo, Its all good. all.

  22. Excellent post – here through Shakesville’s blogaround yesterday – and one which has led me up another step in trying to understand ways in which I can honour Black bodies and experience, without taking them over and centering them on white bodies/experience.

    Thank you for the superb and thought-provoking post.

    And yes, I absolutely do recognize that it is thought-provoking for me only because I have white privilege to have not had to think of it before.

  23. I just wanted to point out that there are over 200 words used to shame female sexuality. (Yes, slutwalk is focused on one, because it was the one Constable Michael Sanguinetti used.) There are less than 20 words used to describe male sexuaity, and (and here is the point) they are NOT seen as derogatory, shameful, or perjorative.

  24. this entire conversation makes me want to cry, because i think crunktastic is mostly spot on, and i can’t get through my own white privilege well enough to quite grasp why. but i know what when white organizers start getting super defensive about a POC critique, it’s clear that the critique is justified. at least that has been my experience as a white activist.

    i do, however, want to take issue with this statement:
    “When I think of the daily assaults I hear in the form of copious incantations of “bitch” and “ho” in Hip Hop music directed at Black women, it’s hard to not feel a bit incensed at the “how-dare-you-quality” of the SlutWalk protests, which feel very much like the protests of privileged white girls who still have an expectation that the world will treat them with dignity and respect.”

    Because I think that we should all be demanding that the world treat us with dignity and respect. I think of it as the difference between being surprised and being shocked. I am often shocked by events in the world that are probably not that surprising. However, if I lose my ability to be shocked, I lose my ability to be outraged and then my hope. So, I read you as saying Black women might not feel particularly surprised at being treated disrespectfully (to put it mildly). But for me the commonplace nature of disrepect shouldn’t lead to the lack of outrage or lowered expectations for Black women any more than it should for the white organizers of SlutWalk.

    Or am I really missing something? white privilege is like that–makes it really easy to miss stuff.

    • No, I think you nailed it. I struggled there with how to express my own sentiment. In some ways I was trying to say not that we shouldn’t all demand dignity and respect, but rather that this assault on Black women’s lives and sexualities is so common that I’m kind of shocked at the shock. I was more shocked that the officer voiced what he voiced but not that he thought it.

      So thanks for being so thoughtful about your privilege, but I think you get what I mean. I just really struggled with how to articulate what a privilege it must feel like to be able to not be so regularly assaulted by the policies and rhetoric of law enforcement and the state that this one incident could enrage several groups of women into global protest. These days, my expectation when I engage with law enforcement is that they are largely unsafe and power-driven; in fact, I’ve been harassed and mistreated and threatened with violence by police (both white and Black men) and have a Black female student who was beaten by the police (after a false accusation of shop-lifting), so my distrust of them is huge. Another fellow feminist couple [http://www.thefeministwire.com/2011/02/16/mississippi-odd-damn-black-feminism-is-unbelievable/] was recently pulled over by police in Mississippi for just driving through the state in their RV. And here’s an example of how law enforcement are themselves potential perpetrators:
      http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/05/26/two-cops-cleared-of-rape-charges-convicted-of-misconduct/?mod=e2tw

      So the notion or expectation that law enforcement does protect is reasonable but also simply not the reality for so many women.

      In short, the expectation of safety itself while certainly a right gets most assuredly deployed like a privilege. And so it feels a bit like white women got angry this time because their privilege to have their rights respected was violated; from my perspective, my privilege to have my rights respected gets violated everyday and law enforcement are often the main culprits. And the only way to deal with that is to have a serious dialogue about the connections between race, gender, and state violence, and specifically policing. That conversation could have both addressed the issues that animate SlutWalk and created space to discuss the ways that women of color are routinely violated by policing (often in very sexual ways).

      • a-ha! thanks so much for the further elaboration. i think for me the aspect i originally missed in your post was the different interactions specifically with with law enforcement across race and class lines, which totally makes sense. and what i got before, but get moreso now, is the frustration with the limited objectives of a movement that could’ve used this global flashpoint of media attention into how cops treat “women” to turn it into a wider conversation about all, or at least more of, the ways that the police as an institution disrespect multiple communities of women.

        i definitely have a lot of ambivalent feelings of my own regarding looking to the cops for safety/protection. fodder for a future blog post of my own i suppose.

  25. I’m sorry but to me it’s quite simple When men act in ways that show a lack of respect for the feelings of women in regard to their sexuality, they should be called on it immediately and shamed for it. If they get defensive screw them. If they are receptive to the criticism let them know it’s not cool and explain why. It doesn’t matter if the woman in question is black, white, yellow, red, or brown I assume that unwelcome behavior the same for all. there is no good reason to claim some special place for yourself. I am 70 and have made it a point to call out every guy, or group of guys for that matter who treat women like a piece of meat in front of me, but I don’t have a lot of time left to listen to long winded explanations of why a particular person is special in some regard. We are all special.

    • (Since it seems you’re replying to me)
      Let me call you out for your behavior on this thread: Someone posted her thoughts about how her sexuality is affected by her race. You then showed a lack of respect for her – and for others of us who are working in a similar space – by essentially telling her to shut up and do something (specifically, conform to YOUR views about what’s appropriate).

      It’s not cool. Why? Because black women are too often silenced, told to shut up about how racism and sexism affect us; told to tow the party/activist lines and not question the ways in which those lines not only don’t help us but sometimes actively hurt us. It’s not enough to call out men who treat women like pieces of meat. If you don’t want to read a long, thoughtful piece about the intersection so many of us are living at, fine, but please don’t tell other people to edit themselves for your convenience. Offering up counter arguments, engaging in thoughtful discussion when one agrees, those are one matter. Silencing is another matter all together.

      No one has said black women are uniquely special. But we’re not the same as white women who aren’t the same as white men who are the same as asian men and so on. And while no one can speak for the full range of experiences for any of those (very large, diverse) groups it is useful to talk about some of the different patterns of treatment various groups face.

      Yes we’re each special, but the “we’re all special butterflies” argument has too often been used as code for “Since I’m just as ‘special’ as you, I don’t have to listen to/care about/respect your differences or the ways in which your experiences are not like mine.” And I call bull on that whole line of thinking.

      I’m 27, but *I don’t have time left to put up with people perpetuating the very social ills they claim to be against. I haven’t got the time, I haven’t got the energy so, honestly, if you’re one of those people, we can end the discussion here. Because I’ve seen this movie before and I find the ending both obnoxious and boring.

      • Enough with the defensiveness, If you can’t tell the difference between telling someone to shut up,and suggesting that they use the services of an editor, or failing that to edit themselves… well I don’t know. All professional writers and most who write for effect have an editor. Even the notorious Paul Krugman limits himself to 700 words and I can assure you he doesn’t do it alone. No, by all means speak up, speak out.Then go back and read the first phrase of the first sentence of my first comment. That’s all you need to know about why I’m here.Good luck.

  26. A horse of a different color is still a horse. It’s hard to believe women still define themselves according to cultural distinctions. Slut V. Ho…? My college days ended long ago. While I acknowledge our differences in terms of day-to-day experiences, backgrounds and historical influences, I’ve always too uncomfortable with defining lines such as Black women, Asian women, women of White distinction, etc., (yeh, lump everyone else into that ‘etc’ category, we’re all guilty of it, as if Black and White and sometimes Asian is all that matters) because it’s creates yet another hoop we never seem to be able to jump through. I just finished collecting on a 20 year-old judgement against a Black woman (ex college roommate) who tossed my belongings onto the street after defining me a “white devil.” Jeez, sure hope her anger is more refined. Wanna know what I think after all this time? She just as well could have been White.

    • My argument was not that white women ARE sluts or that Black women ARE ho’s, but rather that the ways these terms get deployed in our actual lives speak to somewhat different experiences. Furthermore, rather than point to what you deem as merely insignificant cultural distinctions, this piece was pointing to the fact that Black women’s histories of sexual exploitation and commodification make the choice to participate in a “slutwalk” an altogether different proposition than what it would mean for our white counterparts. Clearly your white privilege allows you to gloss over and minimize those distinctions and that’s unfortunate.

      I’m also at pains to understand the purpose of the racially charged anecdote you told. Seems to me that if the race of the woman in question didn’t matter, then you wouldn’t be thinking about it, which means that a story about a random college roommate who treated you in a crappy manner would have no relevance to this conversation. So in fact, race seems to be very critical to your interpretation and engagement with that story, which frankly sounds suspect. Because real talk, if you displayed half the racial venom, or straight up ignorance, towards your then roommate that you have displayed here, her anger might be understandable. Now I don’t believe white folks are devils and I don’t support the destruction of property, but it’s a rare Black woman I know who goes around calling white folks out of their names and destroying their shit with no provocation. So please believe that I’m giving you the serious side eye right now, and if you come again on this point, please come correct.

      • I don’t mind that you think I’m suspect. No one has the authority to define me (…White privilege?). My ‘bad’ attitudes are well earned, as are yours. A Lesbian Transgendered Jewess reared in an all-male household by a woman-hating father who published porn for a living: There’s your White privilege! If you think I don’t understand the pain of being ‘other’ then think again. You call me ignorant; I was reading Women and Black Studies before you were born (agism). No, this is not a case of ignorance. I empathize wholly with the pain that racism, sexism and any other ism instills. I understand all too well the complexities of struggle and identity: I have been doing so all my life – right beside you. You see for me, everyone is suspect. The difference is that I’ve stopped engaging in and perpetuating the Women V. Women atrocity; woman bashing, especially by another woman is more painful to me than any other despicable, hideous prejudice. But in your defense, I do remember a time when anger nourished my pain like a metastasizing tumor; led me to define life in a linear way, and people, of all types, the collective cause. Now I do not limit suffering to any one type of people: not gender, religion, race, weight, orientation, identity, nor to any “other” difference between us. Define it, understand it, then put it into perspective. If you believe me to be racist, so be it. I’ll live well with or without your comments. My point in bringing up the roommate situation was to reveal the sinister in all of us, and how anger and mistrust perpetuates abusiveness and draws deeper lines between us. I think sameness rather than difference, so you are the one suspect in my eyes.

      • If you’ll notice, my attention to difference and specificity did not preclude my ability to affirm the legitimacy of SlutWalk and the concerns that have led to it. Your anger and your pain are palpable and you have deployed them in an unproductive manner here. And quoting Oprah, “you are responsible for the energy you bring into this space.”

        You have also trotted out your differences in what seems like a game of “oppression olympics.” Remember that my original post did not argue that white women don’t have a legitimate claim but rather that we should “define, understand, and put in to perspective” (paraphrasing you), exactly what is at stake in SlutWalk, and in doing so, we can have a clearer sense of what will be its victories and what will be its limitations.

        My post doesn’t pivot on denying the ways that you have personally been disfranchised as a queer trans person. It seems that this is a bone you need to pick about having your experiences acknowledged and centered. And I hope you know how outrageous and offensive it is for you to suggest that you know anything about my experience because you’ve read about it in books. I would never claim to know the hell you’ve been through as a queer person because I’ve studied queer theory.

        Finally, I didn’t argue for Black women to be at the center of SlutWalk. I simply argued that we should acknowledge who is at its center and why in this particular instance that might not be such a bad thing.

        I’ve done all the clarifying I’m gonna do. I wish you love and light and clarity and peace on your journey.

    • Um you have white privilege because you are white?

      Also “I was reading Women and Black Studies before you were born”

      Clearly you are more experienced than the black women living it!

  27. such a well done and interesting essay. I learn a lot in these kinds of discussions. really when I heard about slut walk (as a white woman) I thought nothing more then “cool”. then I heard some critique and wondered what was going on. this further thinking on it all, its fascinating to me. like school (in a true good sense of the word). so intellectual but so reality based. thank you. I benefit from race analysis so much, on so many levels.

    sometimes it even helps me think deeper to understand things I don’t have the words for, in a classist way. For instance when dan savage’s videos “It just gets better” first came out – I was touched. It felt so warm. I also felt sad, as an often depressed low income 45 year old, because I wish my life could get better like that too. it was hard to explain but this weird, loving to hear the positive words but also feeling personally sad about stuff that didn’t get better for me.

    then it was with radical women of color where I first heard critique of these videos – and calling out white male privelege, breaking down some stuff in racism also broke it down for me in a more articulate way to understand my own feelings and see the classism in the “just get better” videos.

    Its not like we don’t want things to get better, or positive actions taken. its not like we are all the same, or all have to agree, or even all fit in a certain way to agree with something based on our race or class or other signifiers… its not like it isn’t nuanced.

    but these kinds of essays and critiques, I feel are just really forward revolution affirming. challenging in the best kind of way. although it can be difficult and painful too when everyone debates stuff. especially online. it’s an art to managing that xo

  28. also this: “We need to figure out a way that all groups, including white women and people of perceived privilege, can speak out about the ways in which they are experiencing oppression. That’s when we can all stand together.”

    Things need to be NAMED. they really do. YES, in todays day and age we really really really really do need to talk about “Black women, Asian women, women of White distinction, etc” and its so much incredible antagonism towards those who do bring these discussions. thats heavy. that to speak about racism and racial critique, as a person of color, you get so much anger dirrected at you.

    i think people have to not just fly off emotionally and take time to think about this and realize its a gift. there is a lot of antagonism in these comments from white women and that is something to be ashamed of. hold back. honor this, even if you don’t agree, well then think about it. don’t try to silence this discussion or this author.

  29. ‎”it’s hard to not feel a bit incensed at the “how-dare-you-quality” of the SlutWalk protests, which feel very much like the protests of privileged white girls who still have an expectation that the world will treat them with dignity and respect.” You know, I for one am glad to see that there are women–white or black–who still have this expectation. When we stop having it, it means we’ve given up the fight and accept abuse and indignity as “normal” treatment of women. I find it disheartening when black women become disgusted or incensed at white women for standing up for our human rights, this sort of “you have no right to complain, we’re more abused than you are”. We’ve got a black man in the White House, and Michelle Obama is treated with far more respect than Hilary Clinton ever was or is now. The way the media heaped non-stop humiliation on her during her campaign shows you that sexism is still very much alive and well. Black and white women should be joining forces to fight it rather than judging and criticizing each other, and squabbling over who is “more abused than thou”.

    • @Chelsea,

      With regard to the quote you are questioning, I’m going to requote my response to another commenter above who asked a similar question.

      “I just really struggled with how to articulate what a privilege it must feel like to be able to not be so regularly assaulted by the policies and rhetoric of law enforcement and the state that this one incident could enrage several groups of women into global protest. These days, my expectation when I engage with law enforcement is that they are largely unsafe and power-driven; in fact, I’ve been harassed and mistreated and threatened with violence by police (both white and Black men) and have a Black female student who was beaten by the police (after a false accusation of shop-lifting), so my distrust of them is huge. Another fellow feminist couple [http://www.thefeministwire.com/2011/02/16/mississippi-odd-damn-black-feminism-is-unbelievable/] was recently pulled over by police in Mississippi for just driving through the state in their RV. And here’s an example of how law enforcement are themselves potential perpetrators:
      http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/05/26/two-cops-cleared-of-rape-charges-convicted-of-misconduct/?mod=e2tw

      So the notion or expectation that law enforcement does protect is reasonable but also simply not the reality for so many women.”

      You have also grossly mischaracterized my argument as a debate about who is more abused. I unequivocally affirmed SlutWalk and said very clearly that it is a legitimate response to the mistreatment of white women (and all women) by law enforcement and the use of the term slut to perpetuate rape culture. The only thing I took issue with is whether SlutWalk would be effective for Black women and other women of color because of our own histories of abuse and racism and our relative lack of power to reclaim terms in the same way white women can.

      So I simply will not play into your ludicrous, ridiculous suggestion that Michelle Obama gets treated with more respect than Hillary Clinton. To delineate the ridiculousness of such a claim would have me engage in the same one upmanship about who is more abused that you engage in while claiming to critique it. So I won’t take your bait.

      I have affirmed my solidarity with SlutWalk, and because I am in solidarity with it, I also claim the right to critique it.

      Done.

    • I’m so tired of being told, by white women, what struggles should and shouldnt be important to me, to hear I’m playing “oppression olympics” when i point out issues of importance to women that look like me.
      This is why I stopped bothering with mainstream feminism when Crunk Feminist was a toddler and it’s why I cant be bothered with it now.

    • “We’ve got a black man in the White House”
      And that’s when the Tea Party began!

      “Michelle Obama is treated with far more respect than Hillary Clinton.”
      Really? Hillary has been called an angry black woman (just for raising her eyebrows) and an ape?

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  31. To be frank, this is probably the most subtly brilliant piece of social analysis I will read all day.

  32. Pingback: Crunky Feminist Article: Is Slut Walk Just A Movement For White Upper Class Feminists & Not Black Women? « GayBlackCanadianman

  33. Pingback: Privileged dilemmas: how to feel bad without making it all about me | first world anarquista

  34. @crunktastic
    Thank you for this lucid, compassionate, critical post, and for your replies in the comments thread!

  35. Pingback: Crunk Feminist Collective on Slutwalks « Anicca

  36. Except for the word “Queer” it doesn’t appear that re-appropriating words is ever really successful. Whatever spelling of the N word is used, it is never really a sign of a positive or progressive situation. This kind “ownership” appears to me to actually be a sign of weakness. Folks who were previously oppressed but now have real power don’t do this.

  37. What does it look like, practically speaking, for the organizers of SlutWalk to acknowledge that the experience their organization deals with is one of white womanhood?

  38. Pingback: On Kreayshawn and the Utility of Black Women « The Crunk Feminist Collective

  39. Thanks for this post and the dialogues you engaged in throughout these comments. As a white cis-gendered female feminist, I apparently have a lot to think about.

    Where your responses in the comments really struck home to me was when you said this: “So the question I would be asking is why SlutWalk has global resonance and the [Stop Street Harassment] movement has been less well-known? And I think that an obvious (but completely true) answer is that when white women cry out, this is always seen as an important issue. ”

    I heard of the SlutWalk immediately when it was first organized in Toronto, and I’ve continued to hear about such movements, especially those in the United States. I’ve seen pictures of posters held up by both women and men fighting back against the way the word was used. But not once did I consider – or even notice – that all the people in the pictures I saw were white.

    And, sadly, while I have heard of the Stop Street Harassment movement, it did not gain enough notice to me in order for me to really know what it was about, how long it has been going on, what it responded to, how kickass the participants are, etc.

    I worry about this, because I know that I want to fight the white privilege in our society and (white) feminism, including my own. Indeed, this is part of the reason why I started reading your blog, because your critiques are spot-on and thought-provoking, and I want to be challenged that way. (not seeking cookies; this is what white people SHOULD be doing) But I feel remorse that it requires people to fight for their own rights to be treated with respect like we all should with such intelligence and insight in order to make the privileged even begin to think about their privilege in a deeper way, such as myself. I never even considered these issues with the SlutWalk before I read this post.

    I worry that when I attempt to be a good feminist (which to me entails the fighting of all -isms)that my own privilege blinds me to thinking about the very isms I inadvertently prop up, because I never had to think about them. I never had to be aware of them. And so in that way I’m part of the problem.

    I’ve lived in predominately white communities all my life, and especially over the past few years I’ve spent at my college town. I’ve cried “white woman tears.” I’ve said things like “sexism is more acceptable in public than racism” even within the past couple months, which only shows how little I really understand of racial dynamics in America.

    I want to change this, and I feel like asking for help with it, but this feels stupid to me. I know the answer lies in continuing to challenge my own privilege and question my own ideas, but I guess I worry that it won’t be enough. It pains me to realize and admit the deep racism that lies within myself, a racism that flies in the face of everything I know I should believe. I say should, because I WANT to say it flies in the face of what I believe, but if I truly believed it, would I even have this problem to begin with? Hard questions for someone who wants to be an “enlightened liberal” (tongue-in-cheek, oh yes), but doesn’t even begin to fully grasp how far she falls from this mark.

    I feel silly for asking this, in a sense. I mean, not only is not really a real question, but POC shouldn’t have to help me change my own stupidity with this. You have no obligation to help every white person overcome their white privilege, just like I don’t have the obligation to help all the asshole (white) men I’ve met overcome their male privilege.

    Maybe the question that I seek is “what do I do now?” How do I become a better person in the face of entrenched biases taught to me by the culture I grew up in? I want to be a professor someday, and it terrifies me that I might support one student over another because, deep down, I look down on a student because zhe is a POC. I don’t want to be part of the problem.

    • Maybe it’s just me (and this has nothing to do with the main point of this post), but I think SlutWalks got more attention because the name is offensive/racy/etc. The name stands out in your head, good or bad. It’s the same reason why “D.A.R.E” is popular as compared to many anti-drug movements.

  40. thank you SO much for the original article. and for the discussion you have generated/facilitated/responded to.

    I am suspect of white organizers who do not lead with a commitment to anti-white supremacy work/deconstructing privilege. This, is our job and responsibility as white activists if we are really committed to transforming ourselves/society/the world. To feel uncomfortable. Not to question or try to wiggle out of situations/conversations that may be angry and/or otherwise emotional, certainly not to dismiss anger. And to stop pretending like there is a universal “we” without paying attention to the ways that “we” may all experience sexism because we’re women but it’s going to be different because our identities are never acting separately from each other (as Kimberle Crenshaw and other women of color have articulated brilliantly for years and as the author of this post repeated and repeated…I appreciated what one responder wrote about not being able to hear things full based on WHITE PRIVILEGE, not because the aren’t true/haven’t been articulated).

    I know that race/racism/white privilege isn’t something that I will ever “move beyond,” “have done the work on,” or arrive on some other side of. Thinking about in in PLANNING events/groups/etc isn’t enough as it is present throughout the ENTIRE process and beyond. (Also, as a gay woman I find the attempt to equate oppressions naive at best, I find the opportunity to engage with racism/privilege within LGBTQ movements and particularly mainstream movements for marriage equality and DADT, much more interesting)

    The fact that so much of this discussion involves people questioning the author and trying to wiggle out of the truths that her experiences reveal (as ALL of our experiences reveal truths) IS racism/white privilege at work. To confront/admit to racism/privilege as white folks is mandatory and if you’re white you navigate white privilege to varying degrees at all times. Of course it is intrinsic to the way that white supremacy operates to frame race as something that only people of color navigate thereby placing the responsibility of dealing with it on people of color.

    There is by this time, so much to respond to, I’m glad to sit with it a bit longer, take it all in. Hope the dialog continues/am grateful for your blog.

    Resources:
    Race Course: Against White Supremacy
    Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (for a basic understanding of white privilege)
    most things by:
    David Roediger
    Kimberle Crenshaw
    Patricia Hill Collins
    Tim Wise’s blog
    Ann Russo (a white Woman’s Studies prof. who writes about organizing in diverse community and white privilege)

  41. Pingback: Mother of all (Australasia-centric) SlutWalk roundups « Ideologically Impure

  42. Pingback: Returning to SlutWalk’s Roots or Does SlutWalk Slut Shame Men?

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  48. I wish this article would have articulated more evidence that ‘slut’ is primarily a word used against white womyn. Other than that, great article! :)

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  50. Pingback: Reading All the Slutwalk Blog Posts « radengineer

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  52. “When I think of the daily assaults I hear in the form of copious incantations of “bitch” and “ho” in Hip Hop music directed at Black women, it’s hard to not feel a bit incensed at the “how-dare-you-quality” of the SlutWalk protests, which feel very much like the protests of privileged white girls who still have an expectation that the world will treat them with dignity and respect.”

    How can you your mind even form the thought of being ‘incensed’ by the attitude of white women, but not incensed by black men refering to black women as bitches and hos?? Maybe if black women adopted a large dose of that how-dare-you-quality we could get some shit done. That should show you how deeply ingrained this low worth of black women is, our men don’t respect us and we don’t have enough self-worth to be offended. Don’t hate on white women for resisting this treatment we take and make excuses for.

    I’d also like to know the good and obvious reasons we never went on a Ho-Stroll? I have no interest in “reclaiming” the word ho, bitch, jump-off, chicken-head or any of the other words black men use to denigrate black women but it would be useful if we did *something* about the disrespect we accept from our sons, brothers, and mates.

    • You missed my point. I am offended. DAILY. I was simply pointing to the privilege white women have in that because their humanity is not routinely assaulted (via pop culture and by law enforcement, more specifically) [or at least not to the degree that occurs for Black women]–when it happens, it sticks out like a sore thumb. If you scroll back through the comments, you’ll see that I addressed this question elsewhere with more eloquence than I’m willing to take the time to do this Saturday morning.

      And um, Black women DO stuff all the time. This article pointed to one movement–the Stop Street Harassment movement. The existence of this blog site and this Collective is an outgrowth of the anti-sexist activist and scholarly community among Hip Hop Generation folks. So yes, while there is much more to be done, we here at the CFC do plenty to try to make things better, from raising consciousness through this blog (and taking a whole lot of heat for it from the rappers that get critiqued and their misguided supporters) to doing various forms of activism in our communities.

      In my estimation, as people and as women who have had our humanity denigrated through the use of words, willingly attaching those words to ourselves when we don’t yet have a huge amount of structural or economic power is an exercise in futility. If Black women organized a Ho Stroll, I think folks would call us Ho more often, not less often, if the movement to reclaim the n-word is any indication.

      So yes, I think we here at the CFC can say unequivocally that we don’t suffer from a lack of valuing Black women. And we don’t begrudge white women their outrage. We are simply saying that there is a qualitative difference in how we experience the use of sexist slurs uttered against us, and that has an effect on the kinds of activism we choose.

      Thanks for reading.

      • I was watching an intriguing discussion on Twitter that started with #howtopleaseahoodrat. I was confused because I had no idea what a hoodrat was. Looked it up on Urban Dictionary. Hoodrat seems to be a word associated with untamed Black female sexuality with all the implicit race and class connotations of denigrated social status. While I understand that some people are overwhelmed by financial/class issues and can not see a space for SlutWalks in their life, it is a mistake to think that “slut” is not inclusive of Black Women. From one perspective, it seems to be implicit. From another, I think that if you do not see a space for yourself somewhere, make one. Kick down the door if you have to but there is a space for you at the table. Whether you create it or it’s already waiting for you and you need to configure it to make it your own, get involved.

        Cindy from S3E7 of The Boondocks is my hero of the mo’. Hers is my underlying approach covered over with smiles, calm words and standardized diction: http://wp.me/p1v9FR-mU

  53. Pingback: Gender Across Borders » Blog Archive » Slutwalk in Mexico City: “Tool for Peace”

  54. Pingback: Slutwalk in Mexico City: We have many reasons to march

  55. I work with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. In my work I have to focus daily on reminding myself that I will never understand the circumstances involved in another persons experience and remind myself of the thick lens I see the word through (made up of my cultural/class/political background). I am a white woman living in a predominantly white state/city and have to remind myself regularily that just because most of the clients I work with are white women, I can not get lazy in ensuring my services are accessible and welcoming to people of every race, gender, sexual identity and class background. I have found this article and your replies so engaging, thought provoking, adn important that I have copy/pasted the article and most of the comments into a word document so that I can share it with all of my volunteers. Thank you!!!

  56. Pingback: Mädchenmannschaft » Blog Archive » Ob Schlampe oder nicht: Warum ich SlutWalk unterstütze

  57. Pingback: Mädchenmannschaft » Blog Archive » Don’t call me slut just because you meet me @ Slutwalk!

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