Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why I Didn't and Won't Be Participating in Any "Slut"Walk

Friend: Danni slutwalk is monumental, as a feminist I don’t get how you don’t want to be a part of this revolution. I participated, it was monumental.

Me: Exactly whose revolution is it given that Black women have been called sluts, whores and bitches for centuries and given that ignorant feminist can walk around with signs quoting “Woman is the nigger of the world”? Guess that makes Black women double niggers or something right? Were you there when that sign was proudly held by that ignorant girl who wondered why anyone should feel offended? Feminism in and of itself excluded Black women and women of lower classes, and good grief if you were both because then you didn’t matter at all. lost your damn mind if you think I’m going to be a part of that.

*silence at the posh dinner table in New York*

- A conversation between a friend and I about slutwalk


I recall walking away from my friend’s home after our conversation about SlutWalk. She could not possibly believe that I, as a feminist, would not want to be a part of such an "amazing" event. I’d hopped on an international flight to come back to the States to engage in a roundtable discussion about feminism among friends and other scholars from New York University. I recall the feeling that overtook me as I walked further and further away from her home. She was as appalled about me not wanting to be a part of SlutWalk as much as I was appalled that she wanted me to be a part of it. Furthermore, I coundn't believe that she assumed because I was a feminist I was going to jump on board the movement.

According to SlutWalk Toronto’s site, SlutWalk was created in response to a police officer stating that women who dressed like sluts were a walking invitation for rape. This sparked outcry at first within the communities of Toronto followed by countries throughout the world. When SlutWalk reached the U.S., it was met with as much praise as criticism. Young feminists seemed to embrace a movement that would perpetuate the patriarchal stereotype of women. What these young feminists seemed to have forgetten was Black and minority women. Black and minority women have alwasy been excluded from feminist movements which only addressed the issues and concerns of of white, middle class and privileged women. SlutWalk further excluded Black women when one protester at SlutWalk New York put up a sign in proud jubilation that said, "Woman is nigger of the world" (pictured below).


Because of this blatantly ignorant fool, Black Women's Blueprint responded through a letter describing how SlutWalk had created no space for Black women (read the letter here). My issue is, why did a letter have to be created at all? The crazy thing about the insident in New York was that a Black woman had to tell this young woman to take down the sign. She was woman surrounded by an entire group of white women who didn’t notice anything offensive about her sign. How hard is it to realize that the word "nigger" is offensive? Women can and never will be the “niggers of the world.” And just because the song was written by a woman of color does not make it any more acceptable to quote her ignorance either. A white woman or an Asian woman will never be “the nigger of the world.” Hell, no one can be! The term in and of itself is beyond derogatory and cannot be turned into something positive. It cannot ever be used to compare the plights of women. The experience of the Black woman or woman of the African Diaspora is unlike any other and while at times there are similarities to other women of color there are still striking differences.

Have we learned nothing from Kimberle Crenshaw about intersectionality pertaining to women of color? In which is it explicitly stated that “The problem with identity politics is not that it fails to transcend difference, as some critics charge, but rather the opposite-that it frequently conflates or ignores intragroup differences” (Crenshaw, 1991) Have we learned nothing from ladies such as Dr. Angela Davis, Dr. Patricia Hill Collins, Audre Lorde, Sojourner Truth, bell hooks? Did some white feminists skip foundational reading? White women will never be able to relate to the experiences of Black women.

While I give a slight bit of kudos to those who founded SlutWalk, I think they excluded many women from their movement. Black women have always fought to rid the attachment of "slut" from their image. While white middle-class women have been held on pedestals for years, Black women have had to fight to first be seen as human beings and then be seen as women. We continue this fight. We meet at the crossroads of race, gender, class, and many times, sexual orientation. Where’s the justification for this ignorance and how are Black women supposed to be participants?

As you can tell, I’m opting out of SlutWalk.

References

Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241-1299. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1229039

1 comments:

Ben Jewstein said...

The feminist movement has too much of such ignorance. As bad as it is to be Black and have to deal with that poster, imagine being a rape survivor and being told that a man farting loudly is raping the women around him.

The feminist movement needs a large shift in focus from arrogant, ignorant self roghtepus anger to critical, calculating thought. Until feminists are celebrated for their INTELLIGENCE rather than merely their gender we will continue to see such stupidity. Simply metaphorocally waving around your vagina does nothing for feminsim or women. There needs to be more objective introspection and a higher standard we hold ourselves to.

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