Politics of Slutwalk: Reading Group and Discussion

Reading group and discussion on the politics of Slutwalk.
Wed 1st June 7-9pm, Bishopsgate Institute, London E1 (opposite Liverpool St station).

On 11th June Slutwalk London are inviting women to participate in a march against rape, which stresses that women should be free from fear of sexual violence however they dress or choose to express their sexuality.

This march raises interesting questions and has provoked some important critiques regarding the intersections of race, class and sexuality. The possibility of reclaiming the word slut has been called into question, with some women of colour feminists suggesting that this assumes a (white, middle-class) position of relative power and privilege which marginalises BME women. Another, related, critique is that the right to free sexual expression promoted by the march in fact relates only to a very narrow definition of sexuality.

One particularly important question is how Slutwalk will/ has been presented and re-appropriated in the mainstream media, potentially hegemonising a white middle-class vision of feminism and silencing other forms of women’s struggle in the process.

We think that Slutwalk’s aim to show that ‘whatever we wear and wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no’ is enormously important. Particularly when a senior Tory minister has just stated that rapes are distinguishable, and therefore that some are more serious than others. This view is obviously troubling, not least because it plays into the still wide spread assumption that some women have some level of responsibility for being raped, and that ‘real’ rapes are those involving a high degree of physical force and violence.

We would like, however, to use Slutwalk and the responses it has elicited as an opportunity to engage with the challenges of building an anti-racist feminist movement – one which recognises that women’s identities and experiences are often constructed differently according to race, class and sexuality. This means taking seriously the various critiques that have emerged, taking the time to discuss them and to consider how and/or if an intersectional feminist politics can be made visible on the day of the march.

As a first step we will be meeting to discuss some of the most prominent articles and critiques about Slutwalk (see below for a list of short readings). We will be contacting many other feminist, anti-racist and queer collectives to begin a dialogue on these questions which we hope will continue well after the march.

Everyone (including all genders) is welcome to come along to this initial open discussion on Wednesday 1st June, 7-9pm, Bishopsgate Institute, Bishopsgate E1 (opposite Liverpool Street Station). Please find below some suggested reading to inform the discussion: