by Johanna Qualmann 

Last weekend I marched in Brisbane’s SlutWalk – a rally and march aimed at stopping sexual violence and victim blaming. I’ll have to admit that it was the first rally I’ve actually been able to make since moving to the city, so it was a very exciting thing to be part of. There weren’t as many people as I was expecting (well, what was I expecting for an event run by those dreaded feminazis?), but there was still a nice group of different people – from a dominatrix in leather or latex or whatever it was to men holding signs saying “consent is sexy” to a woman in jeans and a shirt holding a sign saying “this is what I wore when I asked for it.” And of course, our contingent from the UQ Women’s Collective!

People with awesome signs! (Photo by Emma)

I know that SlutWalk is a controversial topic – just last week Noni on the NUS women’s blog wrote about loathing SlutWalk and the blind reclamation fo the word “slut.” And apparently there was a lot of debate about whether it was appropriate to have a dominatrix as one of the speakers at the Brisbane event.

I have to admit that I’m still not totally comfortable with the name SlutWalk, and I don’t like the idea of reclaiming “slut.” It’s not something I feel fits into my identity in any way, and it’s not something I think can ever really be reclaimed positively. There were a few moments where the speakers said things like “make sure you don’t leave any rubbish lying around – good sluts are clean sluts” which made me feel a bit uncomfortable, and I felt a couple of the signs (such as “honk if you like sluts”) weren’t really helping the cause. But overall, I was happy with the way the event was conceptualised – it didn’t seem to degenerate into continuous shouts of “I’m a slut” like other marches I’ve heard about. The emphasis really seemed to be on stopping sexual violence against all sorts of women and ending victim blaming and slut-shaming. I really appreciated the way that the speakers before the march conceptualised the event and were inclusive of women of diverse backgrounds and sexualities, even mentioning asexual people – yay!

It was a pretty awesome experience, and I think the organisers did a pretty good job. The atmosphere was one of solidarity and support. It felt great to be surrounded by people who shared the same passionate stance on sexual violence and victim blaming, who were willing to march through the CBD with signs and posters. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that there are other people out there who will not stand for the kind of hurtful bullshit that society dishes out, rather than feeling like you’re constantly waging a war on your own. While I might not particularly like the name or the word slut, events like this (with the right emphasis) are needed, if only to help one person realise that sexual violence is not ok.

Me, happily marching – banner courtesy of Charlotte (Photo by Emma)

~ Johanna Qualmann
Cross-posted to A Life Unexamined


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