SlutWalk Coming to Singapore & KL
Constable Michael Sanguinetti could not foresee the consequences of his now famous or infamous words ‘women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized’ uttered at the safety forum at York University on January 24, 2011. They have caused an avalanche of criticism and triggered an extraordinary movement. Starting in Toronto, Canada, protest marches under the appellation of ‘Slutwalks’ have crossed frontiers and surprisingly reached places of totally different cultures, different laws and different figures of sexual violence.
The cause against rape is certainly a great and noble one because it is a most heinous crime with deep lasting psychological and social sequels on the victims. This is a cause the whole of humanity should embrace. However, the way of going about it should be thought thoroughly to avoid sending wrong messages.[pullquote_right]Sex workers need to show they were available by exhibiting their body and it was the most appropriate and natural way of inviting probable clients.[/pullquote_right]
The success, and at the same time the weakness, of the marches is probably due to their diffused objectives. Feminists from all walks join them but with different aims and purposes. Initially it was not a protest against rape. In the words of its organizers, Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, the protest was primarily against ‘slut shaming’ and the safety of women from violence ‘regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work’. For many, those remarks sound like encouraging prostitution, to which many participants in the marches would probably object.
The second objective is to reclaim the word ‘slut’ and more precisely as used by the Police officer ‘dressing like sluts’. It looks like a bold endeavour and a tremendous task to deprive the word from its usual connotations. Does it mean to give the word a new meaning contrary to usage? How far will the protests achieve it is questionable. As for usage, all words, whether newly coined or not, acquire their meaning more through usage than by definition in a dictionary.
Almost all jobs require signs like uniforms or badges or anything specific to them. These serve as signs of recognition, as brand, advertisement or means of marketing. In the past, nowadays and most probably in the future, sex workers need to show they were available by exhibiting their body and it was the most appropriate and natural way of inviting probable clients. People cannot be blamed for interpreting these signs in the usual way. Looking at it from that angle, Slutwalks may cause greater damage to that profession than helping it, if so is the intention.
Up to now, Slutwalks have met with great success in the greatest capitals according to the organizers. Success is to be understood as the mobilization of great numbers and the behavior of the participants – women dressing in most provocative way causing great sensationalism. It is, however, doubtful whether this is the best way to fight for woman dignity. But let’s wait to see the outcome. How many countries will enhance sentences against rape? Will the UN come with another Declaration? Will mothers at home tell their daughters: ‘You do not look enough as a slut’? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, I promise to join the next march and dress as I should be. I am afraid such movements may have non-desirable effects like the slut-erization of young adolescents.
On the blog inviting people to join in the marches, the argument of the proponent is[pullquote_left]Men are sexually aroused most commonly by sight. Denying this is simply nonsensical.[/pullquote_left]
“People aren’t assaulted because they invited it or enticed others to it by looking a certain way; they’re assaulted because somebody chose to assault them, regardless of how they look like, or behave.” Unfortunately this is a generalization which totally lacks insight into human nature, especially in the sexual drive of men. Men are sexually aroused through the senses, olfactory, by a woman’s odor or perfume, by the sound of her voice, by touch but most commonly by sight. Denying this is simply nonsensical.
Constable Sanguinetti had probably this simple law of nature of man in mind when he uttered his words. But everyone seems to interpret his words in their own way, often by extrapolation. It is unfortunate that nobody has thought of this interpretation: ‘You may choose to be a slut if you wish. But your way of dressing definitely will or not attract men!’
Funlock.com shows the picture of a provocatively dressed young woman with these words: “It’s not because I am dressed like a slut that I am a slut”. A very mischievous mind has added ‘It’s not because I behave like a rapist that I am a rapist.”
It is reported that once the Prophet of God (SAW) said that each religion has one main characteristic and the one of Islam is modesty. This hadith demonstrates in a nutshell how the religion of Islam insists on our good behavior. Numerous verses and hadiths enjoin men and women to remain chaste and not in any way provoke men with ‘a disease in their heart’. In the Surah Nur, the Almighty enjoins:
30. Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.
31. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; ….. (The Quran)[/quote]
Islam as a religion of justice and compassion is against rape, the brutal overpowering and harming of a weaker. As Muslims, we must all raise our voices against rape, sexual assaults, objectification of women, excision and domestic violence. It is our duty to empathize with the victims and provide whatever help we can, material or psychological. But it is anti-Islamic to do it by exposing our body to the sight of the public.
*Pictures taken off SlutWalk’s Facebook Page.
Abdool Rahman Dauharry
Abdool Rahman Dauharry is Rector of Victoria College, Mauritius. Formerly, language and literature teacher, he also taught Islamic Studies at secondary level. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Know what it looks like to me?
Nearly every protest I have ever been to in my life, that’s what. The primary difference, as far as I can see, and the thing that identifies it as different than, say, an antiwar protest, is that the signs are about rape and about the right of women to feel free to.. without being blamed for violence done to them… or being assumed to be ‘asking” for violence.
Seriously, most of what I see are people in jeans and t-shirts, with, less commonly, people in costume or something besides pretty standard I-need-to-be-comfy-walking-in-who-knows-what-kind-of-weather-all-day-protest-garb. And that is indicative of every protest I have ever attended, and I’ve attended quite a few.
The idea that Slutwalks are about thousands of women walking around in lingerie has a whole lot to do with misrepresentation of the walks. I think we can be sure some of that misrepresentation is unintentional and benign. I think we can be sure some of it is very intentional and anything but benign.”[/quote]
Read the rest of the post here.