[Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault]
In no other crime is the victim subject to so much scrutiny during an investigation or at trial; nor is the potential for victims to be re-traumatised during these processes as high in any other crime.” (HMCPS & HMIC, 2007)
We are marching to prove that “a slut” does not exist – it’s a term of abuse catapulted at women for so many different reasons, with countless different definitions. It’s a word that shows that female sexuality is still controlled, that is objectified rather than celebrated. By coming together and putting us all under a SlutWalk label so to speak, celebrating sexual diversity and choice, we’re highlighting that not only can women be called a slut for such irrelevant reasons, but that by using words like slut, society is ignoring the real causes of rape.
Victims of sexual assault need society’s support not its scrutiny.
We believe ignoring a word’s existence because it’s a part of misogynistic language is not going to work. Just because we ignore a word, doesn’t stop it existing or take away its power. We believe you can attack a word and render it meaningless. It’s just like standing up to a bully; you metaphorically attack it head on. Like playing the system, you have to get inside, use the term, break it apart, take away its power and that’s when we can start to create a society that doesn’t use such terms at all.
Slut is a socially constructed term. If we come together - people of all different kinds, in all different clothes, anyone from a-sexuals to those who sleep with 100’s, it’s dispelling this “slut” myth and showing that it holds NO relevance over rape cases.
We are protesting against victim-blaming, against slut-shaming, against a sex negative culture which is perpetuating rape myths and therefore ignoring the real issues, and a justice system that is incredibly unjust!
The UK currently has 47,000 rapes reported a year; this number is steadily rising, despite the fact that the conviction rate is steadily lowering. At 6.5%, the UK now has the worst conviction rape in Europe besides Ireland, despite the fact that there is supporting evidence in 86.7% of charged cases of rape. Those are the facts – we’re also hearing more and more stories of how dreadfully victims are treated by police and within the justice system and they are often put off from reporting their attacks at all! It is estimated that even only 5% of rapes are ever reported – and of course men are victims too, anyone can be, but in a society that perpetuates a sexual double standard – everyone is put off reporting what happens to them for fear of how they will be perceived by the courts and by society as a whole.
The biggest rape myth is that the victim does something to provoke a rapist.. This is not statistically backed up and makes no sense. It’s strange how so much emphasis is put on the victims of sexual assault and not enough is asked of the rapist – SlutWalk is highlighting this injustice and trying to show society that nothing a victim does made them a victim – someone was raped because a rapist decided to rape them. There is no such thing as an invitation or a provocation for something that, by definition, is forcing someone to do something that they don’t want to partake in.
All kinds of people get raped, women, men, genderqueer people, children, the elderly, disabled people – and people of all shapes and sizes, ethnic origins, backgrounds, sexual orientations, dress senses etc etc etc. Anyone can be a victim as rape isn’t about sexuality; it’s a hateful act about power and control over someone, using their sexual anatomy as the vehicle to express that. Most victims know their perpetrator, something that a lot of people often overlook.
We grow up in a society where words like slut (whore, tart, etc etc etc) are used to brand women who are promiscuous or perceived as being, and by branding them, we are out-casting them, which leads to objectification which leads to a mindset of them being lesser people - less deserving of respect somehow… and that leads to a culture where people feel it’s then okay to objectify them, where society feels it’s okay to see their body as public property if they choose to display their sexuality. Sexuality can be celebrated, the human body can be celebrated, sexuality can be celebrated without leading to objectification – but this sex negativity is so ingrained within us that it’s hard to break free from. Our sexuality is still being controlled.