By Chloe Angyal
Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak about the SlutWalk action on KUOW’s The Conversation with Ross Reynolds in Seattle, where I was asked about why the SlutWalk is important and why it’s effective.
I was also asked about the protesters’ use of the word “slut” and whether or not feminists can reclaim that word and use it on their own terms. Here’s what was said:
RR: As you’re aware, some feminists feel that the word “slut” is irredeemable, and claiming it for this protest is just the wrong approach. How do you respond to them?
CA: Well, I understand why they feel that way, but I don’t think this protest is about reclaiming the word, and if it is, that discussion has been going on for years. That discussion about reclaiming “slut” has been going on since Kathleen Hanna scrawled it across her stomach back in the Riot Grrrl movement. What this is actually about is protesting the idea that sluttiness – however you define sluttiness, and as that woman whose words you played earlier said, what does that mean? Does that mean holes in your ears? Does that mean fishnet stockings? Everyone has their own idea of what sluttiness means. But what the SlutWalk is about is protesting the idea that sluttiness causes rape. Because sluttiness doesn’t cause rape. Rapists cause rape.
The organizers of SlutWalk Seattle have posted an open letter objecting to part of my answer to that question. You can read the whole thing here, but their principle objection is to my statement that the SlutWalk isn’t about reclaiming the word “slut.” They rightly point out that the SlutWalk is, in fact, partly about reclaiming the word “slut.” As they write, “reclaiming, or more accurately, reappropriating the word ‘slut’ is a fundamental cornerstone of the movement.”
To Read the Rest of the Commentary
Ernesto Aguilar: Four Brief Critiques of SlutWalk’s Whiteness, Privilege and Unexamined Power Dynamics (also Roc and Vaudree's comments that critique his essentializing assumptions)