Sunday, October 16, 2011

She Asked For It - why we should support SlutWalk Singapore

SlutWalk is coming to Singapore in December. 
For those of you who are wondering what the hell SlutWalk is let me fill you in quickly. 

The SlutWalk protest march is a now global movement which began back in April in Toronto, Canada to protest against people excusing or explaining rape by using the reason of a women's appearance. The rallies began when a police officer in Toronto suggested that to stay safe "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
Now to  me it is quite obvious why women should care about this but I have my own personal reasons which I'll explain here...

There have been a handful of times in my life when some guy thought it would be okay just to launch himself at me and have a good grope, to invade my personal space and make unwelcoming and uninvited sexual advances - to my utter surprise and disgust.

But this is the one time that has always stuck in my mind the most because to my amazement there was a clear link he made between what I was wearing and his actions. And he was seemingly using this as justification for his actions.

I was at a work function, and was wearing what I deemed to be a completely respectable black dress. In my mind, it wasn't short, or revealing - perhaps a little figure hugging but I'm not really one for wearing a potato sack so there we are.

I could sense trouble the minute I walked in the room, so tried to keep my distance. But of course when this is a professional and respectable business contact of yours and a senior employee of a well known private bank, that can be hard to do.

I managed to keep trouble at bay for only so long before the leering looks soon turned into comments about the fact I was wearing a "body sock". When I realised all my efforts to keep things professional were failing, I though it was time to make a swift exit. As I turned away, I felt - and heard - an almighty smack on my backside.  And so did all my colleagues.  I was disgusted. Mortified. And felt utterly violated and degraded. And if I hadn't been surrounded by work colleagues, I couldn't help but wonder what he would have done without others around us.

I am absolutely horrified that what a woman chooses to wear (or not wear)-  whether it is deemed to be provocative or not, can be taken for a green light for sexual advances, incitement for degradation or worse still assault.. To me, dress is an expression of individuality, mood, creativity, confidence, sensuality and yes sometimes, sexuality depending on the individual and circumstances. But how people use their sexual or erotic currency should be entirely down to them and heaven forbid should not be forced upon them in any way or used as a reason to punish them.

I was recently on a beach where some people chose to sunbathe entirely nude amongst those who were in swimwear. Does this give people a carte blanche to make uninvited sexual advances or display inappropriate sexual behaviour because they choose to not “cover up”? Of course not.

If we all went around taking whatever was on display or looked appealing - in the shops, on the street, from people’s homes without adhering to what is right or lawful, or taking into consideration the wishes of others - which is most places is usually deemed a criminal offence-  then what kind of a world would this be?

Quite frankly, whatever a woman chooses to wear or not wear, there is no excuse for uninvited sexual advances or sexual behaviour — wherever in the world they may be.  And that is really the reason I am 100% behind SlutWalk Singapore. Because the words “she got what was coming to her” sends shivers down my spine and makes me feel sick and should never, ever be applied to sexual assault. When it comes down to it, nobody deserves to be raped.
When the policeman in Toronto told students that to protect themselves against sexual assault women should avoid “dressing like sluts,” it was a shocking, angry, and sad moment for me and many others across the world — and that was why SlutWalk was born.
It has made me realise that there are probably still a lot of men (though I would hope none that I know) out there with this backward view and attitude that what a woman wears can cause men to behave in a certain way and that it’s somehow their responsibility to ensure that they do not dress like that. How about teaching people that it’s a man’s responsibility to treat women with respect, that it is completely unacceptable to make unwelcome sexual advances or to assault them? And what about all the cases of sexual assault where the victim is an elderly person or a child? Did they dress in a way to “have it coming to them” too?
So sisters — and brothers for that matter — who want to stand up against and stamp out these damaging and archaic attitudes that have no place in our modern society, I hope you will join me and stand side by side come Singapore’s contribution to this important global campaign.

The  actual SlutWalk gathering is taking place on Sunday 4th December at Hong Lim Park from 4pm onwards as well as various talks and workshops taking place on Saturday 3rd December at The Substation. For more information about these and fringe events taking place in the run up to the SlutWalk weekend, visit the SlutWalk Singapore website here

If you would like to support the cause with vital funds necessary to the organization of this manifesto you can make a donation here. 


Kuen said...

People who wants to do anything will always justify their action in one way or another.

I agree if a girl dress a little more revealing or anything close to that, she is in a way inviting trouble but it's only because of what i mentioned above, it can never be her fault if some guy decide to help himself.

Ms Demeanour said...

It's interesting what you say because why is it that one might think that if a girl dresses a little more revealing she is inviting trouble? It's because the global norms of society have led us to believe these things. But social norms change with time, and many do so I am baffled as to why the social norms and conditioning have not moved on from this more or less worldwide. But that is what SlutWalk sets out to change...