Archive for August, 2011

Gender equality is a bitch slut

This afternoon was Slutwalk Hamburg. If you’ve never heard of a Slutwalk, don’t worry – I hadn’t before this morning, either. According to Wikipedia, a Slutwalk started as an event where “participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance.” and today is a global network of marches campaigning for gender equality and against sexism and sexual violence.

I normally prefer not to categorize my opinions in a way which would be gender-specific, so was happy to join a pan-gender event. I’m a strong proponent for women’s rights, of course, but I choose to support campaigns which are very firmly across the board. I’m a “gender equality-ist”, if you’d like. I oppose gender, race or sexuality-based oppression and discrimination of any sort.

Under this premise, I joined Slutwalk. Very quickly into the march, I realized gender equality wasn’t the issue – feminism was. Mention of violence, discrimination and oppression against other minorities took a back-seat to signs and slogans set to promote feminist- and female-centric agendas. “But wait!” you say. “Women are the most common victim of sexual violence and oppression. Surely there is a place to campaign for them and promote awareness”. Of course, I agree entirely. But this event, as it promoted itself on it’s own website, was set to campaign against “sexism and sexual violence”. This includes everyone. As I look at my male friends in the crowd, who can’t wear a dress in public for fear of being lynched, as I look at the mirror and don’t see a woman or a man – and I’m afraid to define myself publicity as anything but either. As I think of my friends who were born into the wrong body – the violence and discrimination they face is real. And yet – Slutwalk Hamburg chose to concentrate on female-centric themes. Despite my mixed feelings towards female-centric events (sometimes they can be rather discriminatory, often they greaten the rift between genders, but it depends on the context), Slutwalk promoted itself as an event against sexism towards any gender. Make no mistake – if you invite me to your event campaigning women’s rights, I’ll be happy to join. But don’t invite me to an anti-sexism event and conveniently forget that sexism goes in more than one direction. That, my dear friend, is in itself sexist.

Upset as I was over this issue, what eventually pushed me to leave the parade halfway-through was the hijacking of the event towards anarchist agendas. Chants such as “no god, no state” and others towards the legitimization of house-squatting had nothing to do with the event, but were the most consistent and loudest of all. At first, I thought it was a small group of anarcho-punks which had hijacked the event for their own agenda, but as I advanced towards the front of the procession, I realized that those shouting anarchist slogans was also a large group right at the front – holding the Slutwalk banners, thus identifying themselves and the parade to onlookers as bearing an anarchist political agenda.

As a demonstration goer, I felt violated. I came to oppose sexism and this group had hijacked the event towards their agenda (without protest from the rest of the participants), thus speaking for me and the entire procession. This is non-permissible. As a first-time Slut-walker, I felt betrayed. So I left.

Instead of a gender-equality event demonstrating against sexism and sexual violence, Slutwalk Hamburg was a feminist-centric event with an anarchist political agenda that largely ignored it’s own printed claim. If I would have known this in advance, not only would I not have signed up, but I would have made sure to sew the seeds to organize an alternative event. Maybe now is the time to start thinking about the logistics.

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