Yesterday, Black Women’s Blueprint published an open letter via Facebook to organizers of SlutWalk Toronto, an annual demonstration to assert safe spaces and consent. The concerns voiced by Black Women’s Blueprint regarding the march were those already on the minds of many: why is there a lack of representation and analysis on the varied contexts survivors of color face in the SlutWalk venue?
Specifically, Black Women’s Blueprint asks SlutWalk to:
- include the experiences of Black women, and the roles they have played in the women’s movement, within the SlutWalk analysis
- include the histories and experiences of all women of color
- re-brand SlutWalk
- acknowledge the historical significance of the word “rape” as a racist/sexist structure
- to organize beyond an annual demonstration to end oppression on all levels of society
- “Develop a more critical, a more strategic and sustainable plan for bringing women together to demand countries, communities, families and individuals uphold each others human rights”
- To begin discussions around accountability across various borders, where people would benefit the most from solidarity efforts.
I can get on board with that.
I understand that the ultimate goal of SlutWalk is to reassert the right we all have to safe communities free of sexual violence and sexual harassment. I understand that this is about consent. I understand that SlutWalk challenges the overlying rape culture, as well as the shame and blame experienced by domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. I absolutely agree with those objectives. However, despite these very basic commonalities, I was still confronted with a guilty hesitation when I debated whether or not to participate.
Much of what Black Women’s Blueprint asks for can be applied to any woman of color. Being Filipina, a lot of issues they raised resonated for me, on the sole basis of being brown. Unfortunately, the history and perception of my womanhood carried by my body is “best” seen in Kubrick’s infamous Full Metal Jacket “Me love you long time” clip . While she is, in fact, depicting a Vietnamese woman, this racist branding in American pop-culture is something I share with all women of Southeast Asian descent. This is an example of the overlooked superstructures of varied oppression specific cultural contexts impose in the struggle for consent over our bodies and images.
Also, as a fellow survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault (as a child and as an adult) I feel that my participation in an event like this may trigger me, rather than empower me. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. SlutWalk is not particularly reflective of my struggles as a survivor. Not to deter anyone looking forward to attending the event, but only to say that everyone takes different avenues to survivorhood.
Echoing what was already written by the Black Women’s Blueprint, what’s most important is the organizing and education that goes on between the SlutWalks. I’m interested in the community involved (locally and globally), the campaigns launched, and the development of all-encompassing analysis inclusive of all types of survivors in the meantime. What will propel this movement forward, beyond the annual demonstration, is the creation of “new, self-determined definitions and expressions of sexual liberation” for all (….as my homegirl, Jax, put.)
These actions will be the true markers of SlutWalk’s contributions to the larger movement for all survivors of sexual violence and harassment.
*Photo Source: http://www.firstpost.com/topics/slutwalk-52814.html
** This post also appeared on Feministing.com