In response to some comments made by a Toronto police officer, women all over the world are taking to the streets in "Slut Walks." Apparently in a safety seminar the officer stated that if women wanted to avoid sexual assault they should refrain from dressing like "sluts." I know the officer thought he was enlightening us all with a simple no-brainer. The key to not getting raped? Dress like a Tabernacle Choir singer and no one will want to have sex with you. As though rape doesn't happen any other time. As though ugly or unattractive women have never been raped. As though the entire arch of the female sexuality isn't determined by a male agenda. As though the very power dynamic of sexuality doesn't codify and permit the subjugation of women sexually and in every other way.
It's a complex issue. One that I am unraveling here in my late thirties. Female sexuality is complex. It doesn't begin and end with just sex. For me, my sexual identity began when I was very young (the same as it does for most women) and first became aware of myself as a sexual being. The process certainly included having sex, but the entire trajectory included pregnancy, childbirth, child rearing and menopause. And I feel at every step, the terms and process by which I have understood myself as a sexual being have been determined by systems of oppression (thank you Christianity.) I try to conjure a moment on the arch that wasn't mediated by oppression and can only come up with the home-birth of my youngest daughter, which took place in my own home, on my own terms, and was attended by women. The very language we use to discuss and legislate sexual behavior, the spiritual mechanisms that determine sexually acceptable versus unacceptable, the medical practices particular to sexuality are all most efficient at oppression and the least likely to lend itself to a healthy sexual identity. If you find yourself thinking I am a femi-nazi bitch, read more here:
Most likely, I am a bitch. Most likely, I am somewhat extreme. Most likely, I feel a certain calling to change the terms about how women experience their sexual selves. But, I am least likely to identify myself with "slut." Which is why I started this post with talking about the "Slut Walk." I don't think I'll be there, and not because I don't identify with the issue. Not because I want women to get raped, and not because I believe that the burden of proof should be placed on the victim in sexual assault cases. I won't be there because I don't feel like a "slut" and I don't feel like calling myself one, or that "taking back ownership" of the term will do a lick of good concerning the deeper issue of female sexuality.
Oh, it's time to organize. The reality is, there needs to be an organized women's movement. I believe women need to create organized support systems to enable each other to seek and attain real representation. Women's presence in the political, legislative and governance sphere need to be directly proportionate to their numbers. Women need to organize medical treatments and facilities geared toward honoring women's sexuality. Women need to institute their own labor unions, HMO's and election campaigns. Or perhaps women just need to raze the entire system that hasn't served them since the birth of Christianity and begin anew. Whatever the method, I would like the need to be determined with the full participation of women, innovated by the inventions of women, and implemented with leadership that fully includes women.
I don't feel that this goal can be reached with a bunch of slut schtick. I don't want to have to be called a slut in order to draw attention to women's needs. I don't want the male perception of what female sexuality is to determine its validity.
Invite me to a meeting about how to organize women. Invite me to strategy sessions about how to organize a women's health clinic where a treatment plan can be created by a women who was trained by other women. Invite me to a protest about how to create inclusion for women in the Legislature. Invite me to participate in a real way in the discussion.
Or better yet, I'll extend the invitation. Male or female, slut or not, let's have a potluck and discuss a real strategy. I'll host it at my house once a week.
See you soon.