SlutWalk: A Black Feminist Comment on Media, Messages and Meaning

By Tamura A. Lomax | WIMN’s Voices

If you’ve been boycotting newspapers, magazines, TV news and the blogosphere for the past few weeks, or if terms like “rape,” “slut” or even “sex” lead you to hurriedly put down the newspaper or magazine and turn the TV channel (as they do for my media-savvy grandmother), then you may not have heard about SlutWalk, a grassroots anti-violence protest movement that has piqued the international media’s imagination. It all began when a Toronto policeman told a group of York University students in January that if they didn’t dress like sluts, they could avoid being raped. (His comment: “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this. However, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”) Little did he know his words would become a catalyst for mass anger and action – and much journalistic attention – throughout the world.

Media coverage has ranged from simple iterations of varying press releases to reproving op-eds. The latter is multi-fold. Some, like Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, find the demonstrators to be solipsistic and out of touch with reality, while others, like blogger Aura Blogando, find the demonstrations to be systemically racist. I stand somewhere in the middle. Like it or not, both Wente and Blogando make valid points. However, the nuanced critique that SlutWalk requires is lacking, particularly regarding women of color (WOC).

Continue Reading @ WIMN’s Voices

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About jennifer williams

Jennifer D. Williams is a writer and professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has published in academic journals and online at Ms.blog, PopMatters, among other sites. Jennifer is currently working on a book that looks at black women's urban literature between the Depression and the civil rights era.

3 responses to “SlutWalk: A Black Feminist Comment on Media, Messages and Meaning

  1. Anonymous

    I'd like to hear you expound upon it.

  2. Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I think some people are offended by the organizers repurposing the term “slut.” I'm more interested in the attention the walks are drawing to sexual violence against women. The bottom line is that no matter where women are, what they're wearing, etc., we are not “asking to be raped.” I think that message is at the heart of Slut Walks and that's a critical message.

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