I’m a little weary of all the (purposeful?) misunderstanding surrounding Slutwalk, so I won’t launch into a full explanation here. If you’d like a bit more background, you could start worse places than this article.
Instead of something comprehensive, I’ll just outline the story of why I attended.
It was late last summer and I was walking back to Town Hall Station on my own after a night out. It was only around 11:30pm. I was wearing a short summer dress and (what I will never again refer to as) ‘fuck-me boots’ – knee high black ones with a respectable heel. I’d just crossed at the lights on George Street.
A young man, obviously rather drunk, was sitting on the low stone wall outside the Town Hall, half-lying in the bushes behind him, with a couple of his buddies standing next to him. As I hurried past on my way to the station entrance, Drunk Guy slurred out to me:
“Hey sexy, want to suck on my dick?”
There are a number of things that are disturbing about this scenario. The easiest to spot is Drunk Guy’s erroneous assumption that anybody would find him in any way attractive in the state he was in.
Did he assume that I was a prostitute? Did he assume I’d be so flabbergasted by his Manly Manliness that I would swoon into the bushes with him screaming “take me, take me now”?
We can know that he assumed at least one thing – that it was okay, in his world, to speak to a person like that because of their gender.
Was it because of what I was wearing? Maybe. (Does that make it my problem? Um, no.)
But, thinking about it afterwards, his behaviour wasn’t the thing that disturbed me the most about this incident.
The most disturbing thing?
I kept walking.
I just put my head down and kept walking.
Because it’s not like it took me by surprise. Because that’s just The Way Things Are. Because those kind of comments are so normalised that we barely even bat an eyelid unless we stop, really stop and think about them and what they imply.
I realise that this one tiny incident doesn’t in any way compare to the horrific experiences of women who have actually been raped. But it’s part of the cultural atmosphere that allows it to happen, and allows people to get away with victim-blaming when it does.
And that, folks, is why I attended Slutwalk. It was a really good crowd, and it was great to see the number of men who participated in the march as well.
I went to the SMH website to see what their Slutwalk coverage was like, and look what’s in the headlines this evening:
Feminism is not finished. A small part of me was deeply relieved that the article didn’t mention anything about what the woman was wearing.