“The sluts are coming! The sluts are coming!”

Some in KC will be clutching their pearls this afternoon, and others wagging their fingers, but I hope many more will be marching and cheering.

It’s the Kansas City edition of Slutwalk — an international movement dedicated to the radical proposition that rapists are responsible for rape, not their victims.

It started with a Toronto cop:

On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police gave shocking insight into the Force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

As the city’s major protective service, the Toronto Police have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of ‘the slut’, and in doing so have failed us. With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim.

Maybe you’ve heard the blame the victim language . . .

  • “She* shouldn’t have been wearing clothes like that.”
  • “She shouldn’t have been in that place at that time of day/night.”
  • “She shouldn’t have been wearing that perfume.”
  • “She shouldn’t have been flirting.”
  • “She shouldn’t have been drinking.”

(* When it comes to rape, “she” may also be a “he” and male victims come in for just as much blame as female victims, with their own male brand of victim-blaming language — “He should have been tougher/dressed more like a real guy/fought back . . .” .)

The reply to all of this was put quite succinctly in an article about the KC Slutwalk and Miranda Nichols, one of the organizers (emphasis added):

In the days that followed [her attempted rape by her (former) friend], her [other] friends would ask her, had she been drinking? What was she wearing?

Unintentionally but effectively they asked, “What did you do to allow yourself to be assaulted?”

And for a long time, Nichols asked herself the same questions. . .

She had not wanted this.

And with that realization, that acceptance that this was not her fault, Nichols got angry.

She got angry at her attacker, and she got angry at the culture that asks not “Why did you rape?” but instead “Why did you let yourself get raped?”

Nichols is not alone in demanding that the culture learn to ask the right question of the right people. Sluts, it appears, are everywhere:

Washington DC

London – do check out the signs!

Melbourne

Philadelphia

Chicago – again, check out the signs like this one: “No means no, yes means yes — wherever we go, however we dress.”

And yes, in Kansas City. The event had to be postponed because of permit issues last July, but everything is a go for today. I can’t be there because of other obligations, but it’s possible other clergy will be there. For instance, Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, has said they were going to protest the event, which should be rather hilarious. From the KC Pitch:

Completely missing the point, Westboro does not acknowledge the crime of sexual assault in its here-we-come press release. Instead, the irony-impaired church quotes Scripture relating to the mouths of whorish women.

Yep, it’s all the fault of the women. Thanks for making the marchers’ point for them, Fred.

(And no, I won’t link to the press release. I try not to feed publicity-seeking trolls.)

If Slutwalk hasn’t made it to your neighborhood yet, they may be on their way. Check out the list of future marches here: Ithaca, Minneapolis, Portland, Nashville, New York City, Singapore . . . Don’t see the name of a city near you? Maybe it’s time to organize your own march.

image h/t Slutwalk KC