The Slut Walk and Me

I am all for freedom, but along with that comes responsibility.

I am all for gender equality.

But I am a writer by temperament and words to me are tangible living things.  They have power, to change the world, to burn to destroy and to bring happiness.

Being a curious person (and also because I spent most of my student years looking out of windows) I also gaze out of the window when I am driven to office and driven back home.  I see things … (no – not dead people like in that Bruce Willis movie) but I see people when they are at their natural best.

And I can not help wonder …

It is normal to see a guy hold his penis (yes, I will use the word) and urinate on the road, oblivious to the world going to work.  It is a part of his body and he feels no shame about it.  He does not care a damn about peeing on the road either.

Who is the slut here?

It is hard to find a guy not scratching his scrotum in public.  Or even farting or burping in public.  It is hard to find a man restrain himself from scratching his butt.

Who is the slut here?

Thing is that they are proud of their body organs and treat them as just that – body organs.  The functions like burping or farting are also a part of body functions.

They have not been taught to be ashamed of these things or exercise restraint.

I remember my elder son once telling me in shocked tones, “You know, that shop keeper?  He ate his food, rubbed his belly and burped loudly.  I could see a piece of palak in his mouth.  Disgusting”

I remember replying “That is just because he has not been taught better”

In my current frame of mind I feel that may be us women have been taught worse ..

We have been taught to be ashamed of our body functions.  We can not stop a bus for a pee break even though our bladder would burst.  We would die a million shameful deaths before we get the guts to do so.

We will not be caught dead touching our private parts in public.

So why in heaven’s name should we call this march a slut walk?

Words have power.

This is a walk to reclaim our self respect.  To reclaim our own rights over our bodies and the independence to decide what we cover it with.

I can not be a part of a slut walk.

I am not slutty.

What I want to be a part of is a walk of like minded women and men, who acknowledge that a woman has rights over her body, which she can clothe the way she wishes to (within norms of decency).  I want to be a part of a walk of liberated souls who state that a woman’s womb is her own, and she decides when and to how many children she gives birth.  And a walk that awakens the public to the fact that a woman is not a repository of her clan honour, her father/brother/husband’s izzat or pagri.

Any takers for that?

An awesome post “In Defense of Sluts Everywhere”

Advertisements

52 thoughts on “The Slut Walk and Me

  1. Hmmm… wasn’t the word ‘slut’ used in the first place?? Isn’t that why it is used for the walk??

    Personally, if someone says I dress or act like a slut for not following the definitions of what constitutes a good and chaste woman as per society’s standards, I will be glad to turn around and ask (with a smile), “Yes, I am a slut. You have a problem??” So I have no issues with the name. 🙂

    • Perhaps – and then again perhaps not. It is a grey area. Thing is … the society has to take many steps and evolve a lot before people can understand even the basic reason why it has been named “Slut Walk” As such, I think the women who participate will be jeered and harassed and the word Slut will play a huge role in this

  2. Its the society that forms the dos and donts. We define what is private part and not. If the whole society hides its arms and be open with other body parts, the arm becomes the private part and people would be curious about it rather than the rest. The curiousity is as long as we hide it. Society has conditioned the women for centuries as to what makes their behavioural pattern and other code of conduct. A society defines what is normal if you break it you are called rebel. If you have the guts, you live with that tag or else compromise and mellow down. More such rebels come, the rebel behaviour becomes a norm. Our parents for long has defined different parameters for boys and girls. Society has to change. Mere slut walks won’t change the society. I just read in Bikram’s blog that was reflective of my mindset. How many of us part of the slut walk would practice in their own life the moral? How many of the protesters would treat their maids the same? How many of the protestors would come forward to protest in day to day life? In case of any eve-teasing, they will just be a passer-by. Realization should be in day to day life and not an one off event which is a fad and would propably be an annual event for fun.

  3. Call me whatever you can , I know you cannot touch me ..:)

    Ritu i so agree on men and women taught so wrongly their body parts .. I was not raised hearing boys this and girls this , so May be thats why I am not ashamed of my sexuality and body . I don’t get ashamed with a litle cleavage show or when my duppata flew away with wind ,,,I can just laugh and get it back .. I can easily put back a sexy bra stap in place when it slip over the shoulder without going all red about it …or even ask a male frend to do a Zip on back of my top without making it obvious that i need sex .. they all know it , I am in control of my body and it shows ..so yes the way you grow up , the way you see your body have a lot to do with how others take it.

    would i mind being called SLUT ? or Bitch for that matter .. I am not comfortable taking with anyone who talks in abusive or derogatory way.. .But for the people who dnt have guts to say something rt on my face ..I dnt care what they call me . there is no shame attached to the word . and if i go by the literal meaning of the work ..Its fun to be a slut at times 🙂

    I am all for slut walk ..lets have one in bangalore ..and i will wear my fishnets and hooker heels :):)

    • It is fun to be a slut or a bitch … in the company of like minded people and people you are comfortable with. One can not go out in the open looking and behaving like a slut – you get raped if you do so. Call this walk a slut walk and you will have men of the Muthalik ilk becoming predators and harming those women. This is what I feel.

      • go to open and dressed and behaving like a slut ?? that is where the problem is .. BY defination slut is someone who have many sexual partners , can you tell that by the way a girl dresses ? You can call a girl slut if she is in minis ..Thats what you or majority thinks , does that makes her one ??

        we all know better than this … so what should we do a bhartiya nari walk ? In saris to beg men that see now we confine to indian standards of morality ..plss dont rape us .

        the whole purpose of the word slut walk is to NOT judge anyone by what they wear and discuss this in open that no one asks for it.

        No one like to be called names .. i dont like even closest friends calling me anything bad ..and no one does that..no matter what i wear and how many partners i have had or have . Diginity is more than all this .its also about the people you are with . its not something a name calling will take away .

  4. i still can’t form an opinion on this slut walk. your last para touches a chord tho’…
    i remember an interview Oprah did with JayZ and she pulled him up for using the N word. And he said he wanted to use and normalise it and take the sting out of it. But Oprah said it had such a heavy historical context, it is disrespectful to those who fought against it.
    These are just words right? We shouldn’t get so worked up about it, right?
    But slut has a meaning. And I don’t care if it is used loosely against all women trying to break stereotypes, I will still not accept that meaning on myself.
    Here is my yardstick, and why I will not join a slut walk — will I take my 9-year-old on this? NO. But will I ask my her to help me pack pink chaddis to send to the RSS? Yes.

    I am not going to glorify a word in the name of femininism.

  5. I think you hit the nail with this line Ritu : ‘a woman is not a repository of her clan honour,’. This is precisely why a woman has to be so cautious about her every step, every movement, so the ‘society’ does get a chance to insult/stone her! And you are absolutely right, we have simply been taught to be ashamed of our body parts, whereas a man can scratch what he wants where he wants! Its disgusting.

    Now having applauded you for this wonderful post, I also have to say, what is the problem with the ‘slut walk’? A slut walk does not mean the women who participate are slutty or feel slutty! To me, it looks like a name that has been chosen to shock people into listening/understanding something.

    Is it the name that you don’t agree with ? Because as far as I can see, the slut walk is for women to exercise their right, their freedom, to be the way they like, without it resulting in a man assuming he has the right to take advantage of her. Which is pretty much the same as what you have said, about a woman having the birth right to be herself and not the repository of her family’s honour and such.

    • Yes its the name I dont agree with. You think the cave men who populate our country will even think beyond the word SLUT? They will be there to wolf whistle, cat call and even harass the girls who take part in the walk.

      I was brought up to respect myself and conduct myself with dignity. The word SLUT has a meaning and it takes away from dignity. I can not be a part of such name calling

      • I see where you are coming from Ritu, and I can understand why the name is distasteful to u. Like I said on Ihm’s blog, the ‘pink chaddi’ campaign was distasteful to me, because I didn’t like the idea of ‘chaddis’ though I was for the movement behind it. Now having said that, I feel they people behind the movement have deliberately chosen this name, to bring in some shock value, and to get some attention to the issue.

        Imagine, a name like ‘Walk for liberation of women’ or ‘Walk for freedom of dressing’. It evokes the LEAST amount of interest. But ‘Slut Walk’. Hey! The name itself draws attention.

        I do hope, though, that they manage to get their point across, after all this effort!

  6. I read quite a bit about Slut walk and I have not been able to understand whether it is a step in the right direction or not…

    What will be achieved?
    Will it make any difference to those hooligans who attack working women?
    Will it make the cities safer to travel , for women?

    I do not think any of the above will be achieved… so I do not know why the walk is being held in the first place.

    In Canada, it was against a statement which was made against a woman by a police personnel, but what does this walk have to say in India?

    • That is the problem with importing ideas from other countries. If we have a walk of women fighting for their rights in the Indian context it would have more impact

  7. Being called a slut doesn’t make me one. The idea is that every woman has the right to dress as she pleases and not be molested in any way. Appropriate clothing is too relative a term, and who is to define it? It has to be left to every adult woman to choose how she dresses.

    • I strongly assert that my respect, my dignity is something that I have to build and maintain. Yes I will wear clothes that I want to wear – but will ensure that they are not something that takes away from my sense of decency.

      It is my choice. And the same goes for every other human being

  8. u know what u put lot of my thoughts into words but there still are many more, like I said in my previous post I am very confused abt slut walk. Part of me screams that its the right thing to do and part of me says really?

    I am going to be doing a post very soon hopefully if I can sort my mind out

  9. I love your take on the Slutwalk, although I have to say that I disagree on the some of it.

    My understanding is that you object to the word, Slut. I think Slutwalk is beyond the name. Yes, none of us would want to be called sluts based on other people’s yardstick, but then again, if we refuse to be insulted by the word, wouldn’t we defeat the purpose of the word? In that sense, I feel the word is powerful here – it forces people to talk, to discuss about the issue on hand. And brings to front the fact that every woman can be called a Slut by some or the other person’s standards – does that justify crime against women? That is why I feel positive towards Slutwalk – despite the name.

  10. I loved your post and I do agree… Like i mentioned somewhere else also, I am all for the walk.
    Though slightly disapprove of the name, it’s been grabbing headlines and I hope it works for all the right reasons and not the wrong ones.

  11. Its the way (Indian) society has evolved over ages; good or bad, is a matter of debate. When there are feudal systems based on caste and a society where genders were expected to play an “assigned” role for hundreds of years, one cannot expect sudden changes in the mindset of men (and I daresay, some women too).
    As far as things like public habits like scratching etc etc, I think it will only get worst because parents are increasingly devoting less time to better upbringing and schools are busy making money. I have noticed many an “upper class” co-passengers in airlines do similar things ( eating with mouth open, burping, oggling at air-hostess’s legs, adjusting the crotch, etc ) much the same way as the uneducated brethren down the street; and I think they too wont hesitate urinating in public if there were no toilets nearby:
    Incidentally, I have seen a row of almost 50 odd women along the railway tracks once doing the morning job in full view of public, in broad daylight while the train was passing by their village.
    So its a mix of upbringing, education and availability of facilities (or lack thereof ) that goes into making the type of citizen that we see.

    • You are right – I concur. I don’t know why but I feel the slut walk, though a commendable endeavor is wrong on so many levels. May be the time is not right for it.

      As for public habits heh heh, less said the better. We are regressing rather that getting more polished.

  12. don’t know how i’d react if my bf lovingly calls me a slut after this walk bandwagon.sounds more like someone calling me a whore.
    I also think it should be rechristened as ‘skirtwalk’.
    words have power.

  13. I get where you’re coming from, but the whole point of calling it a slut walk is to make a statement. Yes, it could have been called anything else. Would it still have evoked such sharp reactions then? I’m not sure.

    The idea, I think, is to underscore the fact that dressing up one way or another doesn’t make us sluts, that women don’t ask for it because of the clothes they wear.

  14. I also have had a negative reaction not only to the name of the protest, but also to the idea that hastily organized protests change consciousness. Protests do have a place in social movement, but SlutWalk, I think, is way off the mark. I’ve seen pictures of young women marching in their bras and panties. Is this really the idea? I think the new “dress code” of showing as much cleavage as you think you can get away with is also questionable, about as stupid as wearing skirts so short that women keep tugging on them in self-consciousness. There’s tremendous confusion about “reclaiming one’s body” and/or “reclaiming one’s so-called sexuality.” But young feminists don’t want to hear from me, a lifelong feminist, age 57, who has experienced every form of harassment, abuse & shame that exists. Even at age 57 with gray hair, some men act very inappropriately toward me.

    My background is feminist psychotherapy and I sincerely doubt that any woman who HAS been raped, whether by a stranger or a family member, will be doing the SlutWalk. I understand the impulse to respond to attempts by society to control women with rejoinders like “If that’s a bitch, them I am,” or “If that’s a slut, then I am.” However, I think that’s a response from powerlessness and I think these SlutWalks are also a form of raging from powerlessness. Women need to organize with coalitions and figure out what leverage they have and use it. No one is going to be affected by a SlutWalk, although the participants may feel they did…something. Where women put their energies, and how well they use sisterhood, smart organizing and leverage, is what women’s movement needs to come together and brainstorm. This is a waste of energy, imo. But younger feminists (or maybe the more privileged) want to “express their rage.” Maybe this is a developmental phase of raising feminist consciousness?

    When I was a young feminist, we protested rape by marching in a protest called “Take Back the Night.” It took place at night, when many women circumscribe their travel because of fear. I believe it was a candlelight march. It attracted large crowds of protesters. The name of the protest, imo, was exactly on target. The percentage of women who have sexual molestation or incest in their histories is alarmingly high–in fact, the last time I looked at statistics, sexual abuse by family members outnumbered stranger rape. Does date rape correlate with what women wear? I don’t know what the stats are (or even if there are stats), but I would be surprised. My guess is that it’s sheer opportunity and the naivete of young women. Young women don’t want to hear that either.

    As a feminist who has been there and done that, I want to share my insights with young women–mostly, they don’t want to hear it.

    • That is sad. I am 50+ and I have seen the way men react to me, specially when I say that I am divorced. It is as though I am waving a flag saying “Come have sex with me”. Divorce is just that – a word. But to their mind it has connotations like “I am lonely/desperate/available”

      Slut has all that and more …

      Do write about your experience. Perhaps it can help us all

  15. i LIKE the word slut. to me it means, even if i am a “slut”, i am not “Available” BIG DIFFERENCE! I think that its important to take the extreme stand and ask for “NO MATTER WHAT I WEAR, you CANNOT do anything without my active consent.” Its an important message. The other thing is that women do NOT always dress up for the men around to ogle. They do it for themselves, and they have a right to wear short clothes if it works better for them. And no one has the right to brand them as sluts. The word slut assumes that a women dressing in short clothes is asking for sex. She may just be asking for more air in hot weather. or she MAY be asking for sex, but till she says yes, you cannot touch her. Period.

  16. I suppose the word slut even came about because of women who refused to conform to what was expected, by accepting their bodies, and by being open about their sexuality and sexual desires. It was an expression of freedom that got labelled.

    The movement starts off with an aim to reclaim the word ‘slut’, to basically say, it’s a term that isn’t needed, and is therefore ridiculous. There is more to it than just that of course but that’s how it started.

    Thing is, you already see words such as slut, bitch, bastard, MF ect etc bandied around among friends, like how you’d swear at someone affectionately. It’s when the words are used as negative labels that it become a problem.

    Slutwalk made sense in the international context because societies elsewhere have moved on from making women the sole upholders of ‘honour’ and ‘tradition’. In India, we have a really long way to go before we get to the point where a SlutWalk would make sense. It is a talking point though and by that alone has served its purpose.

    • As per my etymology lessons, slut comes from the word slattern, its middle english and it means dirty and untidy woman, and also a kitchen maid. Servant girls in those days did not have any rights to protest against physical abuse – or object to masters using their bodies.

      So slut means just that – a dirty female body for use and abuse

    • I love Pratchett. But even in my meditation classes we were taught that words are powerful. As a visualization exercise we were given words to create mental pictures. It works.

      I liked your blog post – different minds, thinking alike …

  17. What more to say, but this much I could – love your outspoken nature in letting your thoughts run amok on your space. Would love to run into you someday, but for starts, am awaiting your book – so do let me know. I have a blog of my own which you know, and I would love to have your feedback there, esp. on the work of fiction. Another one, is on its way – with a touch of sensuality attached to it. Aspire to have a collection of short stories published.

  18. Pingback: Random thoughts… « Where the mind is without fear…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s