Monday, 6 June 2011

Telling women to wear longer skirts to avoid rape is like telling children to grow up already so that they don't appeal to paedophiles.

Photo by Ben Ponton (full set can be found here)

Back in January a Toronto Police Officer was giving a talk at Osgoode Hall Law School when he said "I have been told I shouldn't say this but but you should avoid dressing like sluts if you want to be safe from sexual assault."
After all the years of being told by people in authority in not so subtle ways that is a woman doesn't complete a list as long as her arm of actions "for her own safety" (don't wear short skirts, don't walk down dark alleys, don't sleep around, watch your drink and NEVER EVER go out alone), this was the straw that broke the camel's back and Slutwalk was born.
On April 3rd over 3,000 people marched in protest of the "slut shaming" culture we live in, and soon after other Slutwalks started popping up all over the world.
June 4th was the date of the Newcastle Slutwalk, the nearest to me, and as soon as I found out I dropped everything (including International Lolita day) to make sure I could get involved.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Plews (left), standing with my friend Vicky

I dressed myself in black bloomers, a black under-shirt and a black and white corset, before I even made it to Newcastle I had to put up with people's assumptions and prejudices, as I waited for the bus a couple came along to also wait, my bus stop is quite small, but they made sure to put as much distance between them and me as they could. A car slowed down so that the driver could gawp at what I was wearing and I got a seat on my own on a crowded metro.
When I got to Grey's Monument (it's a statue of Earl Grey, yes THE Earl Grey that the tea was named after) where to march was to begin there was a Preacher (who my friend later described as  "looking like an N-Dubz cosplayer) arguing with an Atheist.
In my opinion they were both wrong, the Preacher was pulling the whole "SIN! HELL! BLAH BLAH BLAH WORSHIP GOD!" thing, and the Athiest guy was screaming at him that Religion is a tool used to control and that Religion is stupid and all about hate, whilst managing to make Mr Preacher look like a brave Martyr standing up to the sinners to his friends.
The Preacher was wrong because the Bible says that we're not allowed to judge, only God can do that (FYI I'm not a Christian, I just like reading people's Religious texts, I'm a Pagan), and if I had to pick a word to describe what he was doing it was most certainly judging.
The Atheist was wrong because he was focussing on all of the negatives of Religion,  yes Religion has been used as a tool to control people, but Religions also have positive attributes too.
In my opinion people should believe or not believe what they choose, and so long as they aren't hurting anybody what's the problem? I think that preaching either for or against religion is hurting people.
Enough about that though, the point of this post is Slutwalk.
Photo from hiwecanhelp

At 12:00 Liz (who organised Newcastle Slutwalk), took to the monument and said a few words about why we were all there, what route we were taking and started the chant before we all set off down the hill towards Newcastle's infamous Bigg Market.
I marched alongside Tia, Queenie, Vicky and Carl (funny of the whole march being as we passed Queenie's brother Craig holding the sign that points to reflex records and screamed "HI CRAIG!" at him and completly random people we'd never met before all joined in waving at him :) ).
Photo from hiwecanhelp

As we passed The Beehive pub at the end of the Bigg Market, some rather wonderful members of society, oh so bravely stepped out of the pub and heckled
(The EDL is the English Defence League, a pretty racist organisation that want "England for the English" and prey on people's fear of terrorism) .
Without missing a beat Queenie heckled back 
"Fuck off racists!" in her broad Glaswegian accent.
As the march headed back to Monument some guy heckled something as he cycled past at great speed, I actually haven't got a clue what he said because he whizzed past so  fast.
How brave.
We marched along Northumberland Street (this is the main shopping street in Newcastle City Centre), and pissed off a road sweeper by being in his way (oh and some mother tried to run me over with a buggy...Excuse me madam but that's your child you're trying to run me over with...), and made various innuendo jokes about the fruit seller ("My what a lovely pear!", "I'm looking for some big, juicy melons!", "Can I have your cherry?"), before the march ended at Haymarket.

I think the march was a big success, you certainly couldn't miss us, and I hope that it makes people think about what they say more, and maybe it'll change some attitudes with any luck.


Day 10: 1 picture of yourself

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