Monthly Archives: June 2011

One Sexy Day In London Town

The Oxford English Dictionary dates the earliest recorded use of the word ‘slut’ in English to 1402, when the poet Thomas Hoccleve complained of ‘ye foulest slutte of al a tovne’. 609 years later, the term is still being used as a sexual epithet against women, with the additional insult of the word’s alternative connotations of dirt and squalor. A notable example of this came from the mouth of a Canadian police officer in January – addressing a safety meeting at a Toronto university, he responded to a question on how to steer clear of sexual harassment with:

‘Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.’

Not only did this dispel the myth that all Canadian police are essentially replicas of Benton Fraser in Due South. It also pissed a lot of people off. And rightly so. The officer’s comment played upon two of the nastiest stereotypes surrounding female sexuality. Firstly, that it is essentially shameful and perverse – the ‘dirty slut’ trope – and secondly, that unwanted sexual attention is the responsibility of the (female) recipient, rather than the (male) aggressor. In response, SlutWalk was born – a series of protest marches and rallies calling attention to the iniquity of the double standard in sexual autonomy, and the hugely problematic issue of rape culture. It started in Toronto… it spread around the world… and last Saturday, it ended up in London (on the same day as the International Naked Bike Ride!).

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My Third-Wave Feminist Dialectic Brings All The Boys To The Yard

To: every man who has ever beeped his car horn and yelled a come-on at me; asked if he could ‘ride with me’ while I’m on my bike; told me to ‘smile, darlin’; etc etc tedious etc.

Firstly, you’re not proving your masculinity by making me feel uncomfortable. I know plenty of men who get through life just fine without intruding on women’s personal and physical space, and I have a damn sight more respect for them than I have for you. When you yell sexual comments at me, or tell me how I should look or act in your presence, you’re not convincing me (or anyone, except maybe your knuckleheaded friends) that you’re the acme of male desirability. What you’re trying to do is establish some kind of power dynamic in which you make yourself feel like a Big Man by ‘dominating’ me and my space. In your tiny mind, masculinity is the norm, and women are passive objects put on this earth to act as a foil to your manly needs. And you should consider that, more often than not, you’re old enough to be my father. Seriously, what are you trying to achieve? Am I supposed to be flattered by your comments? Turned on? Impressed?

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Filed under Feminism