You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. --Elizabeth Bibesco

Monday, May 30, 2011

Modesty and SlutWalk

So I'm going to Chicago's SlutWalk this coming Saturday and I'm totally pumped about it. If you haven't heard about SlutWalks, an explanation for them can be found here. The gist of it is, though, that a police officer was giving safety tips to law students in Toronto and said that women could avoid sexual assault if they stopped dressing like sluts. Understandably, this pissed a lot of people off, so SlutWalks started in Toronto to reclaim the derogatory word and to protest the police force's treatment of female survivors of sexual assault.

I think the movement is important, so I'm delighted to be going. It will also be my first (and, let's face it, probably last) time in a niqab, so I'm excited about that too. To recap, yes I am going to SlutWalk Chicago in a niqab.

So, now I'm going to address a couple of concerns I can see coming up in the blogosphere. 1) Is modesty the opposite of sluttiness? and 2) Should a modest woman (or man!) go to SlutWalk and why?

First question first. Is modesty the opposite of sluttiness?
Right off the bat, I'm going to remind you all, that I don't think God is necessarily a proponent of one or the other, so I'm going to keep God out of this and just talk about what I think (which is necessarily informed by my religious views), but my point is, I don't think God "sides with" the slut or the modest woman.

Okay, in order to see if modesty and sluttiness are incompatible, we have to know what both are. Slut, according to this dictionary, means "a person, especially a woman, considered sexually promiscuous." Modesty is defined as: reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior.

You could argue, then, either way. If we are talking only about modesty in dress, a slut could be modest. If we are talking about behavior, you could say a modest woman could not also be a slut, because sexual promiscuity isn't, by definition, reserve in behavior.

However, check out some of urban dictionary's definitions for "slut." Or, don't, if you are squeamish. The point is: is a website where people contribute their own definitions and many of these definitions say: "a woman who likes to have lots of sex." Now, even if you are a monogamous, sex-after-marriage kind of woman, by this latter definition, you could be a slut. And it could be a good thing.

Next question. Should a modest woman (or man!) go to SlutWalk and why? or Allie, why are you wearing a niqab to SlutWalk?
 I figure these two questions can be answered in one fell swoop.

SlutWalk is a protest about the fact that society still thinks that the women who get raped are the ones wearing the "slutty" clothes and thus, if you don't want to get raped, you shouldn't wear those clothes. This is an affront for every kind of woman (and man). It totally denies the existence of modest rape survivors. It also implies that our men can't control themselves when they see a woman in a short skirt. Never mind the idea that being a woman who enjoys sex is a bad thing.

So, who should be at SlutWalk?
  • Modest Rape Survivors
  • Immodest Rape Survivors
  • Sluts (of all kinds!)
  • Men
Meet me at SlutWalk Chicago (Thompson Center Plaza, June 4th at 12noon) if you agree!

Source: SlutWalk Chicago's SlutWalk Guerilla Street Performance that happened this past Saturday.
 By the way: now that you know what I'm wearing, what should my sign say? Any ideas?


Anonymous said...

Awesome event, awesome that you're going, and awesome decision to wear the niqab.

I'm not sure what your sign should say, but maybe it could talk about/ask why society is as threatened by an uncovered woman as a covered woman. The controversy surrounding the (even voluntary use of the) niqab highlights -- at least for me -- that this nonsense about rape and dress has very little to do with *what* women wear and much more do to with agency in general.


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