Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Most Men Don't Rape: Why We Should be Marching

I don't think the SlutWalk is about convincing men not to rape. Most men don't rape, and the ones that do aren't going to be convinced with rational discussion, because they hate us and there's something wrong with them. Imagine an anti-robbery march: HELL, NO, WE WON'T GO! BREAK AND ENTER, NO NO NO!

Neither is this about persuading The Big Machine to take us seriously. Never in the history of the world, as far as I know, has a marginalized group achieved equal status by convincing its oppressor of its worthiness or by pointing out that it isn't nice to dehumanize.

No: this is about addressing why feminism finds itself in bed with the patriarchy itself in deciding what sort of behavior is appropriate for women and what sort compromises our personhood, equality and safety. If we only get to pretend like we're equal as long as dominant culture lets us, then guess what: that's not really equality. The funny (read: sad) part about it is that at this point, we're still in that position because of our infrastructure-weakening internal strife. We're really only fighting each other, while the patriarchy leans back on its adjustable deathbed, sucking on a bendy-straw and cackling feebly – and until we get our collective mind right about sex, that's the way it's going to stay.

As long as we continue to accept that male sexual attention has the power to strip a woman of her agency and reduce her to an object, then we also accept that women who solicit sexual attention and enjoy sexual activity, especially outside accepted patriarchal parameters, are inviting that diminishment – not just for themselves, but for all of us. As long as we accept that, then we ourselves are complicit in perpetuating the notion that there are, in fact, conditions under which women do not deserve full citizenship with all its benefits, protections and responsibilities. Men are free to do what they want, but not us – and if some of us misbehave, it's we who will punish the bad girls, confiscating their car-keys and bringing them to Daddy.

Children of abusers will recognize this pattern of policing each other, forming factions and blaming whoever provokes the latest round of abuse for endangering us all.

There's a schism dividing the feminist paradigm, and it goes like this:

It's unequivocally, inarguably wrong to rape – but some of us really are asking for it.
I am a sovereign, autonomous individual, equal in all respects to you – unless I use my freedom to make a choice of which you don't approve.
Women are as capable, competent and worthy of respect as men – except the sexual women; they're inferior and worthy of contempt, maybe by choice, maybe not. Who cares? Do what you want with them; they're a problem we'd like to be rid of.

SlutWalkers: march not to decry our victimhood once again, but to reclaim our power and move out of our embattled, injured state and into our full human potential.

SlutWalk Colorado Springs

Friday, July 22, 2011

SlutWalk: the March for Unconditional Equality

Nadine Strossen said it best, I think, nearly twenty years ago in Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights:

“Women should not have to choose between freedom and safety, between speech and equality, between dignity and sexuality. Women can be sexual beings without forsaking other aspects of our identities. We are entitled to enjoy the thrills of sex and sexual expression without giving up our personal security. We can exercise our free speech and our equal rights to denounce any sexist expressions of any sort – including sexist expressions that are also sexual – rather than seek to suppress anyone else’s rights.”

It’s taken nearly a generation for that idea to gather enough momentum to finally propel itself forward, stridently claiming its place in the feminist dialogue. Openly erotic women, women who avail themselves of the right to sexual self-determination by making unpopular or rebellious choices with their bodies, are no longer willing to be feminism’s poor relations, begging morsels at the table of socio-political equality. We will no longer bear the brutal brunt of gender-conflict while being denied full access to the ground our sacrifices have helped to gain.

SlutWalkers march in the face of passionate opposition from many directions. Those who wish to keep us silent have much to fear: sexuality is the last frontier, the final battleground in the quest for full, unfettered cultural citizenship. If we wake up – truly arise and reclaim the source of our power - then all is lost, and the doddering, shuffling patriarchy will finally crumble. Pay attention: there is a reason why pornophobic feminists, in their misguided, fearful quest to suppress sexual expression, have found their greatest, most powerful ally in the patriarchal monolith of the Religious Right. Read The Handmaid’s Tale, and be very wary of that poisonous partnership.

There is no single path to gender-equality, no one party line, and that’s alright: compelling the patriarchy to cope with the validity of our conflicting agendas helps enlighten dominant culture to the breadth and truth of our possibility, the fullness of our humanity. Ladies: march proudly (and carefully; don’t want to turn an ankle in those shoes), speak out in solidarity, and continue to offer support where you receive no thanks. Our day is coming.

SlutWalk Colorado Springs