Demos challenge attitudes to sexual violence

The “slutwalk” phenomenon began in Toronto in January, in response to what should have been a routine talk on personal safety given by a police officer at a local university. The officer, Micheal Sanguinetti, told the assembled women that “We’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told that I’m not supposed to say this-however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimised.”

Staff and students immediately demanded an apology and called a “slutwalk” demonstration of a thousand people against the disgraceful idea that women should take responsibility for the abuse perpetrated against them.

Since then, similar demonstrations have spread across Canada and the U.S and about a hundred have taken place across the world with more planned. Thousands of people, mainly young women, have come out to voice their disgust and anger at the regressive attitudes towards rape that are still prevalent in our society.

According to a report commissioned by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in 2002, 42% of women and 28% of men have experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. Despite this, only 7.8% of women and 1% of men report these experiences to the Gardai.

Comments such as those made by the Toronto police officer promote a culture of victim-blaming which makes it even more difficult for people to report these crimes so that the perpetrators can be held to account.

Unfortunately these sorts of comments and attitudes are not unique. Recently a tape emerged which recorded Gardai in Corrib, Co. Mayo making jokes about rape and in Britain, the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke unleashed a furore after he tried to draw a distinction between “serious rapes” and “date rapes”.

Sanguinetti’s comments clearly hit a nerve with young women rightly furious and exasperated with this culture of victim-blaming that engenders the trivialisation of these serious crimes. However, the use of the term “slutwalk” has drawn much criticism even from veterans of the women’s rights movement.

The Toronto website says: “Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation… the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. ‘Slut’ is being re-appropriated.”

While there is no doubt that it is extremely positive that young women are taking to the streets to challenge this culture, it is worrying that these women think that this can be achieved by labelling themselves “sluts”.

The word is so saturated with negative connotations about women and their sexuality it is beyond redemption. It should be confined to the dustbin of history, not reclaimed. Women should be out on the streets demanding respect and equality, they should not settle for making a nasty label nicer.

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

UCU congress calls for 24-hour public sector strike

Next Article

Angry CWU telecoms members meet

Related Posts

Sinn Fein accused of planning water charges

Sinn Fein have been challenged to publically rule out the introduction of water charges after a senior member of the party called for separate water charges to be brought in after the May’s elections.

In an interview in today’s The Irish News, Paul Butler claimed Sinn Fein needed to start taking “hard decisions rather than populist decisions” in order to find extra funding and added “really the only place the Stormont executive can go is the area of water charging.”

Fight BT’s National Pay Deal

BT has offered workers a 2% pay rise with two one-off payments of £250 – one of which will be at the managers discretion. This pathetic offer is nothing in comparison to BT’s profits which were up 11% in the third quarter of 2009. BT rejected the CWU’s claim of 5% despite the fact that this would only equate to just 1.1% of the companies £5.7 billion projected annual profit. Meanwhile, BT’s profits look set to go up. The recent volcanic ash cloud and its lingering problems for air travel will mean a surge in conference calling – a definite unexpected increase in BT’s profits.

From stimulus to austerity at dizzying speed

The G20 meeting in Toronto of the leaders of the main capitalist governments of the world demonstrated a complete incapacity to solve the huge problems that confront us, particularly those hardest-hit - the poor and the working class - by the economic crisis.

This was supposed to be the economic summit that would 'celebrate' the so-called economic stimulus packages introduced by capitalist governments throughout the world, which 'saved' capitalism from a 'depression'.