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SlutWalk: Why I Am Marching

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Written by Nancy Schwartzman for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the  original post.

Dear Friends,

This Saturday, the International SlutWalk movement finally comes to New York City. After thousands of women marched along the streets of hundreds of cities around the globe, we will gather in New York City’s Union Square together. At The Line Campaign, we recognize that there have been many valid concerns and contentions over the name—primarily that it doesn’t speak to many women of color, or others who are offended or who aren’t in a position to parade under a “slut” banner.

“Slut Walk” as a name began as a challenge to the notion that what might fall under a contemporary description of “sluttiness”—revealing clothing, flirting, drinking—does not equate consent to sex, and never justifies rape. However, somewhere along the line it became about re-appropriating the word “slut” into an empowering term, something that many women of color have expressed feels dangerous and counter productive to combating a problematic history of racialized sexuality.

SlutWalk was never meant to be divisive—but its controversial name was both a blessing and a curse, gaining media attention, but inciting a politically theatrical debate that veered the movement off-course from a universal struggle against victim-blaming and started dividing women along race lines.

SlutWalk is a grassroots movement, often spearheaded by young people organizing for the first time. Every movement has its growing pains, and we hope that SlutWalk can work through these contentions and mature into an inclusive and groundbreaking movement that inspires conversations and further organizing that lead to real change.

At The Line Campaign we see the SlutWalk Movement as a tidal wave against rape culture and victim-blaming, something that women of all backgrounds need one another’s support in resisting. Women have organized across the world, from Toronto to Buenos Aires to Mexico City, Kyrgizstan, and Morocco under the universal agreement that we, as women, have had enough. I hope that you will continue this movement by joining us to march from Union Square at 12 noon sharp; I will be speaking along with representatives from Radical Women, Red Umbrella, Queers for Economic Justice, Domestic Workers United, STARR, Sex Worker Outreach Project, International Socialist Organization, and other independent activists.

In Solidarity,

Nancy Schwartzman

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