For my part, I've never really understood the kind of guys that lean out of their car windows and scream "Slut!" at female passers-by.
In my experience, the exclamation is usually made after the unassuming recipient of the label has turned down some ill fashioned, Bundy fuelled sexual advance of their male counterpart. Which if nothing else, lends itself toward evidence confirming my general suspicion that these morons don't actually know the meaning of the word they are using. It's as if the word has become the tool of some particularly illiterate, angry breed of jilted would-be lover.
Fortunately, using the word "Wanker" to describe this subset of my gender is entirely appropriate.
The SlutWalk, in case you haven't heard, is a series of protest marches sweeping the globe in response to some decidedly regrettable comments from Canadian authorities in regard to rape, and more broadly, an entrenched acceptance of men's subservience to the desires of their penis.
Earlier this year at a York University safety forum, women were encouraged to "avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized" and a Canadian Judge sentenced a rapist to two years probation, the lighter sentence meted out because "sex was in the air". This comment suggested that the victim behaviour and attire may have given the attacker the wrong impression. As opposed presumably, to the whole 'not wanting to be raped' thing.
Of course, the numbers on sexual assault make their own argument, specifically, that many sexual assault victims are young, and that assaults are predominantly perpetrated by offenders known to the victim, and a staggering number of those victims are children. That, however, is not the cause that the organisers of SlutWalk have taken up.
What is perhaps truly fascinating (if predictable) is the scope of conversation that the media and the event's detractors seem to be focused on. The word itself. The possible naughtiness of attire. The divisions between feminist factions.
Meanwhile, writers like (the aforelinked) Kimbo Ramplin, Ben Pobjie (whose Milo inspired piece 'How not to rape people: A modern guide for modern men and footballers' should really be part of the national curriculum in my view) explore for us the deeper societal issues at the core of this discussion. (I'm not even going to mention Clem Bastow. While not spearheading droves of scantily-or-not-because-it's-not-even-the-point-clad droves through the streets of Melbourne, she organises the Zombie Shuffle. Clearly, she's just nuts.)
To me, that's the opportunity SlutWalk provides. The chance to break the conversational taboos that writhe their insidious way around the topics of rape, sexual assault, and victim blaming. A chance that was defeated by white supremacists only a few short years ago.
Forget the word "slut". Forget the choice of clothing. These are a conversational conduit, a means to an end - don't let them become the destination.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, we encourage you to contact someone who can offer assistance:
The Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault offers free and confidential support for victims and survivors of sexual assault.