UK Newswire Archive
organisers estimated 3000 people took part in yesterday's 'slutwalk' anti-rape protest yesterday in central london. the crowd filled trafalgar square to hear from a wide variety of speakers, and the event was seen by them as a success. it has certainly opened up a debate about attitudes to women, rape, dress, and misogyny, although not all agree with the premise of the march.
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as the crowd assembled outside the 'hard rock cafe' at the west end of picadilly, it became clear this was going to be much bigger than most people had imagined. the london slutwalk, follows similar uk marches in edinburgh, newcastle, cardiff and glasgow, and these in turn were part of an emergence of currently more than 70 similar events around the globe.
it all began in toronto, after an ill-judged, and later reprimanded, comment by a toronto cop, michael sanguinetti, in a rape case. he was quoted as saying that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised". there have been similar comments in british courts from ill-witted judges, and rape victims are routinely asked what they were wearing at the time. so the 'slutwalk' response is that women should be free to wear whatever they wish, and that rape is thus never invited or 'asked for'. infact, one particularly incisive banner at yesterday's protest simply pointed out that "by definition, you cannot ASK to be raped".
some feminists have opined that the protest doesn't address deeper concerns over the commercial sexualisation of the female in society, and that the word 'slut' is not one worth reclaiming. on a side note, etymologically, 'slut' doesn't originally appear to suggest any sexual connotation, rather being associated with dirt, and applied to women, often servants, who didn't clean properly.
all controversy aside, the trafalgar square speeches, from organisers and invitees, kept returning to a simple single-issue point to be made, and 'slutwalk' might be strongest and least divisive if it continues to be clear about that one issue.
i thought it was best summed up by one speaker who invited us to imagine the case of a man appearing in the witness stand after being the victim of a rape where some penis-like object had been shoved up his arse. the first question he is asked by the sympathetic judge is "can you describe what you were wearing at the time?". the farcical unlikeliness of this scenario brought laughter and a huge cheer from the crowd. and yet female rape victims are routinely asked this question.
a young muslim woman pointed out that her religious dress is under fire for too much coverage, while rape victims are under fire for too little dress. why does (patriarchal) authority believe it should interfere in this area at all? 'slutwalk' invited people to come dressed in any way they wished, and although many took up the challenge to dress 'provocatively' (isn't that word in itself a sign of how deep this problem is entrenched?), others rose to the call in other ways.
a trans-gender speaker spoke of her previous life as a man, never experiencing any sexual abuse, but that since dressing as a woman, she receives anything ranging from stupid comments to serious threats on a shockingly regular basis. sex workers spoke of their experiences at the hands of the police - claims of abuse or rape are routinely met with indifference because of the nature of their work, and the level of protection is minimal, non-existent or indeed negative. she told how she was currently fighting a conviction for 'running a brothel', when her only motive was to work in a flat communally with a couple of friends for safety after being brutally attacked herself (without any subsequent justice) when she previously worked on her own.
other speakers did of course make connections to wider women's issues, such as the use of rape as a weapon in war, the plight of women in AIDS ravaged countries, and the rights of women globally. one particularly eloquent speaker on global issues was crystal from 'global women's strike'.
but ultimately and simply 'slutwalk' is about challenging the arbitrary and ill-conceived connection between dress or appearance and the crime of rape. it is about fighting the perception among, mostly male, police, prosecuters, and judges, that rape can be invited by signals and implied consent. it is about raising these issues publicly and in the press, and pushing it into the judicial agenda.
it certainly seems to have captured the imagination of a wide cross-section of the public, and yesterday's london march and rally had men and women in all states of dress and undress, in unexpectedly large numbers, with a serious aim and as part of a global phenomenon.
quite by chance, yesterday's event coincided with the yearly 'world naked bike ride', and as the speeches were drawing to a close, hundreds and more hundreds of naked men and women rode past the square as part of that event, not one of them inviting rape - a delicious synchronicity on a sunny afternoon.
12-06-2011 12:23Noam Chomsky to speak at Rebellious Media Conference in London this
October. Buy tickets now: http://rebelliousmediaconference.org
12-06-2011 11:53There may be no better proof of the rupture that is brought about by the “movement of the squares” other than its open, participatory, directly democratic way of organising and functioning. Within a single week it has given birth to a political culture of a different type, one that literally overcomes all known models of organising and struggle to date.
Even if the issue of its procedures is incomplete, it comes up again and again and comprises the most important legacy already left to the political and social life of the country. This does not mean there are no issues with disorganisation, inefficiency, delays. Taking into account however the explosive rhythm of its development, the lack of previous experience on the side of those who created it, along with the need to compile, step by step, heterogeneous and different opinions of all participants through open procedures, all this is to be expected. Even if time-consuming, its procedures are flexible and are altered by the day; they are self-criticised, adjusted according to mistakes, comments and suggestions deriving from them being tested in practice.
Barcelona, Spring 2011: Chronology of An Unexpected Event
11-06-2011 19:29In England,the left liberal (this maybe not the ideology of those who run this rag, but they definitely know their niche market!) Guardian/ Observer continue to run an "ASSANGE IS BAD, MANNING IS IN MAD"
Widespread Protests Challenge Spain's Political and Economic Status Quo
Interview with Michael Albert, co-founder of Z Magazine , conducted by Scott Harris
The economic crisis gripping Europe and government austerity measures have triggered angry demonstrations in major cities across the continent, including Athens, Paris and London.
11-06-2011 15:43The Edl are at Spencers pub on Mill Hill next to Leeds train station now. Top boys including Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll are there and about 50 others. There was another group who had walked off from the others under the railway bridge of about 15 and another 10 in city square, this was 20 mins ago.
11-06-2011 15:34Food hygiene regulations are being almost universally ignored by vendors of take-away foods. This could lead to an outbreak of highly contagious and lethal diseases.
11-06-2011 11:42Steve Best ban upheld - Talk tomorrow at Conway Hall going ahead via internet.
This would have been a rare opportunity in this country to attend a talk by Professor Steven Best, who as well as being associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, is also one of the foremost thinkers and philosophers in the international animal rights and environmentalist movement.
This would have been Dr Best's first visit to the UK since he was was banned by the previous Labour government in 2005, after he spoke out in defence of activists who break the law as part of campaigning, even though he himself has no criminal record or involvement with illegal groups or activity. The ban only covered the UK, and he has continued to speak in many other countries in the years since then, including countries such as Russia and South Africa, without any interference or repercussion. Indeed, prior to coming to the UK, Dr Best will be visiting several other European countries, including Germany, Poland and Luxembourg, where he will be speaking to university departments, student groups, and community audiences on a number of topics.
Over the years Dr Best has published 10 books, over 150 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world and appeared in numerous documentaries. In recent years he has become well known for his advocacy of "total liberation" in which he seeks to draw parallels between the various human, animal and earth liberation struggles.
Dr Best first came to prominence in the 1990's with a series of award winning books on postmodern theory, written with the renowned philosopher Douglas Kellner, which have been translated into many languages and sold tens of thousands of copies, and which are now standard text books on graduate courses in many countries.
11-06-2011 09:34Dear Noam
I am writing to you and a number of other friends mostly in the US to alert you to the extraordinary banning of my film on war and media, 'The War You Don't See', and the abrupt cancellation of a major event at the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe in which David Barsamian and I were to discuss free speech, US foreign policy and censorship in the media.
11-06-2011 01:23A number of Sri Lankans (mostly Tamils), currently in detention, have contacted 'Freemovement' to say they have Removal Directions for this date.