Now I realise I’m courting extreme feminist abuse by this post, but so be it.
Australian popular culture always seems to follow North American examples no matter how silly e.g. “gangsta rap”. So I suppose it was inevitable that the phenomenon of the “slutwalk” would rapidly be emulated here, mostly by young women with little or no feminist consciousness for more substantive issues like equal pay.
Apparently the “slutwalk” movement arose after a Toronto police officer dared to suggest that dressing in a “sluttish” manner on the streets, especially late at night, might not be a really great idea. Many young women reacted with outrage and began street demos where they dressed in “slutty” outfits. I guess it has some kinship with the “Reclaim the Night” demos that have become an annual event in Australia, or the public reaction to Muslim cleric Sheikh Hilaly’s remarks about scantily dressed women as “uncovered meat” (who, implicitly, were courting rape).
However, I can’t help questioning the commonsense rationality of “slutwalking”. Certainly the proposition that the primary responsibility for curbing aggressive responses to women who may be dressed in a highly sexualised way rests with the blokes exhibiting those aggressive responses is undeniably true.
Conversely, however, does it make sense to deliberately and unnecessarily behave in a way that a predictable proportion of aggressive, testosterone-driven males with poor impulse control will treat as an open invitation for a root? How does “slutwalking” differ in substance from the hypothetical example of a middle class person of either gender parading around the streets of a notoriously poor and violent inner city suburb displaying their iPod, iPhone, iPad and a wallet obviously stuffed with money? For a police officer to suggest that this might be unwise behaviour isn’t in any sense condoning the actions of the thieves who will almost certainly proceed to commit an opportunistic mugging. It’s just commonsense advice. “Slutwalking” isn’t a courageous political act, it’s just mindless, imitative, populist stupidity.