The World

May 17, 2011

The phones are manned, vote now on Slutwalk

No one appears to have mentioned the Reclaim The Night marches -- which still continue, though their heyday has long passed -- in the current discussion of the Slutwalk phenomenon.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Twenty five years ago, I was standing at the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale streets, Melbourne, watching a march go by. In those days I would have joined pretty much any protest but this wasn’t one that you just tagged onto — it was a Reclaim The Night march, a women’s-only protest against s-xual violence and the controlling threat of such.

The march had come, as I recall, from Melbourne University down to what was still the City Square — a mix of women, both activist and casual supporters. As the march crossed Lonsdale, it began to pass the Barrel and the Shaft, the two rather sad adult cinemas — sorry, sinemas — now long gone, victims not of the defeat of porn but of its universalisation on the internet.

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22 thoughts on “The phones are manned, vote now on Slutwalk

  1. paddy

    Well worth the read, if only for that magnificent word … Canadianly 😀

  2. grahame

    IMHO your description of (6) is a bit off. That one particular event happens all the time. In Perth last year we had the state government (according to The Perth Voice, not online) handing out cards to women telling them how they should go about not being raped or sexually assaulted in a taxi.

    I think the slutwalk is wonderful because it so directly confronts the idea that it’s a woman’s problem (or a person’s problem) to avoid being sexually assaulted. It’s not. People should be able to wear whatever they want without the fear of being attacked, and also without the fear of being blamed if there are attacked.

    Events like that one in Canada happen all the time, and I think the notion that women must dress modestly to be safe is pretty firmly entrenched in the public consciousness.

  3. amct

    Nearly every item I have read about SlutWalk references Reclaim the Night. What are you reading that doesn’t?

  4. alexio

    Not worth the read. The ignorance in the Canadianly paragraph alone is too staggering to penetrate.

  5. bex

    Try reading this AMCT.
    Much more of the time. Don’t need some Women’s History 101 from the Old White Dude perspective. Seen it before.

  6. Gavin Moodie

    @ sub editor

    ‘The phones are manned . . . ‘ is sexist and should be replaced with ‘staffed’ or some other non sexist term. This is particularly ironic since it heads an essay about post modern feminism, or is the heading post- post modern feminist?

  7. tracy

    You know it wouldn’t be so frustrating that a search on Crikey shows the only slutwalk article has been written by a man if the article didn’t say, ‘No one appears to have mentioned the Reclaim The Night marches — which still continue, though their heyday has long passed — in the current discussion of the Slutwalk phenomenon. ‘

    Pretty effective way to dismiss/ignore us, because a lot of people have mentioned it – pretty much everyone I’ve read who has anything substantial to say about it has mentioned it.

  8. Antigone1990

    I think SlutWalk and Reclaim the Night are quite complementary. Reclaim the Night focuses on the fact that women are extremely likely to suffer sexual assault. SlutWalk, however, is focused on a particular part of this: the victim-blaming that occurs to women who are sexually active.

    From the original SlutWalk: “We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.”

    The word slut is used against women with no logic: if your skirt is too short, you’re a slut. If you talk about sex too much, you’re a slut. If you enjoy sex, you’re a slut. If you have sex, you’re a slut.

    So here’s what I think: if people come together for SlutWalk (women, men, covered up, wearing little clothing, monogamous, promiscuous) and stand together, it is powerful. It says that this word does not define us.

    As Jaclyn Friedman said at the Boston SlutWalk: “Instead of distancing ourselves from those among us who are targeted as sluts, lest we get caught in the crossfire, let’s stand together today and say, if you use the word slut as a weapon against one of us, you’re using it against all of us. If you shame one of us, you will receive shame from all of us. If you rape one of us, you will have to answer to all of us.”

  9. AR

    In 1969 in London I was involved with a group who forewarned the meeja, only print & TV in those long gone daze, that there would be a feminist march, from Bank to Fleet Street, and the marchers would be TOPLESS.
    The slimiest hacks & dregs of the tabloids were there in droves at the appointed hour, polishing their lenses & licking their pencils (puns/metaphors intended), stunned by the good looking women assembling with the burnt bra-banners.
    Then the Great Strip Off began, all the blokes mingling with the females (previously unnoticed by Fleet St’s worst) suddenly took off their shirts (very brave, I think, as it was October) and began to march, topless as promised.
    Didn’t make the news that evening or next day, don’t know why.
    Possibly something like the recent reference in Crikey to a “young boy, naked from the waist up”, meaning ..err.. shirtless.

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