Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Pornification of Protest

     I have already looked at some critiques of SlutWalk in relation to other topics I have discussed, but I thought it important to look at a few arguments that I have yet to cover. I also wanted the opportunity to bring some of my own skepticism to the table.

    One of the issues a critic reported was the SlutWalk had engaged in the "Pornification of Protest" because of some marchers choose to dress in very little clothing; this occurrence means men seem to inevitably show up to watch the spectacle.  That being said, SlutWalk is not saying that women should dress up in skimpy clothing as a way to get what they want. Instead they do it to make a point, women should be able to dress however they want and not have to fear being victimized.

    My concern is the portrayal of sex in relation to women. I do not disagree with the message of SlutWalk and their goal of sexual equality for women. My concern lies with the message we are sending adolescents about sex. SlutWalk supports a women's right to sleep with as many men as she want as well as her right of self expression through the clothes she chooses to wear. For women who are already sexually active and enjoy having sex, this is a perfectly reasonable ideology. But what about those who have not yet had sex?

     In our society, for the most part, we teach our youth how to have safe sex or to stay away from sex until they are absolutely sure that they are completely ready.  But deciding whether or not one is ready for sex is a huge decision, one that not everyone knows how to make, or make correctly. When we wait until we are ready our expectations for both the relationship and the sex are unreasonable. This is because we are told that when we wait, everything will work out.

    So now teens have SlutWalks adding its voice to make the decision more difficult. As a young woman it is refreshing to hear harmonious voices saying that just because a woman has sex, with one partner or many, there is no basis for harassment. This may lead young women to be more comfortable making the decision to have sex, but are they really ready or are they simply responding to a media craze. SlutWalk does support women who choose not to have sex, but that portion of their message has never seemed very loud. I worry that a young girl will look at SlutWalk and decide to have sex, not because she is actually ready, but because of the lessened social stigma and because everyone says it is okay. That being said, maybe it is actually impossible to really be ready for sex that first time, so if nothing else it can be seen as a learning experience and one can then decide if they are ready to continue having sex or wait until they feel truly ready.

Courtesy of Heather Mallic

    Whatever can be said about SlutWalk, good or bad, it has become a powerful voice in modern feminism. It has raised awareness for its cause and inspired thousands of people in two hundred cities to speak out against slut shaming and victim blaming and aim to bring about sexual autonomy for women.

For more information:

References Cited:

Ashcraft, Catherine.
     2008. Ready or Not . . . ? Teen Sexuality and the Troubling Discourse of Readiness.
     Anthropology & Education Quarterly. 34:4. Wiley Online Library.


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