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I Support the SlutWalk Movement Because I Believe

24 Jun

If you’ve read any of my last few posts, you already know that I’m really involved with and excited about the Tampa SlutWalk. Before I offered to get the ball rolling in Tampa, I thought long and hard about what my personal beliefs were regarding SlutWalk. I know that Tampa is a slightly conservative area, and that we might come up against a lot of criticism. What I also know, is this is a cause I believe in and personally know many women and men who’ve been affected by sexual assault. That alone, was enough for me to offer to take on such a huge project.

When I first heard about SlutWalk I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about it. I tend to be someone who watches and listens to put the pieces together before I jump in. And before I jumped in with my thought’s on the SlutWalks I wanted to make absolutely sure I had a good grasp on the idea of the movement as well as my own feelings and thoughts about it. I wanted to have the knowledge to articulate exactly why I’m supporting the SlutWalk movement. After tons of reading and lots of discussions with many people, here’s what I now know.

What’s in a Name

I have a background in and a love for marketing and creative design. And I know, better than most, the best way to make your product stand out is to be different. In todays world, of intense, non-stop advertising, sometimes the only way to stand out is to shock people. I believe one of the reasons SlutWalk has been such an amazing, world-wide movement is because of it’s name. If it take’s a slightly confrontational, shocking word, to get people to listen to the message – then so be it. I’d be willing to bet this movement wouldn’t have gained half the momentum it has, had it been called, “women stand united” or something similarly passive. (Plus, “slut” is exactly the word that the police officer used and it was just as shocking when it came out of his mouth.) Our generation is rooted in extreme ideas. We enjoy making waves and we like to feel that we helped create change. We tend to have a cult-like mentality and we feel good about belonging to a community that we can identify with. I would expect nothing less from our generation, than this shocking, powerful, global movement that SlutWalk has become.

The Definition of ‘slut’

Slut – noun
1. a dirty, slovenly (untidy or unclean) woman.
2. an immoral (not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted) or dissolute (indifferent to moral restraints) woman

When I read this I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment. If ‘slut’ is partly described as being immoral and not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted – and part of the SlutWalk movement is to change the way we think about women and sexuality, then if we were successful in changing that mentality, ‘slut’ would have a completely different meaning. When did ‘slut’ become synonymous with women who have a fulfulling and abundant sex life. Oh, right, when society deemed it conduct that wasn’t acceptable. Go figure . . .

Gail Dines, an anti-porn activist wrote in a an article for the Guardian:

The term slut is so deeply rooted in the patriarchal “madonna/whore” view of women’s sexuality that it is beyond redemption. The word is so saturated with the ideology that female sexual energy deserves punishment that trying to change its meaning is a waste of precious feminist resources.

Wait, what? Isn’t that exactly what our feminist resources should be used for? What if they had said that about women fighting for their right to vote? Or about women being in the military. Or about Title IX. Those are all so rooted in patriarchal views and yet women fought for and overcame them too. Our fight for sexual autonomy deserves every bit of strength our feminist resources have to offer.

Gail Dines believes that encouraging women to be more “sluttish” will not change the reality that there are people that are still “blaming [women] for their own victimisation no matter what they do.”

I don’t believe the goal of SlutWalk is to encourage women to be more “sluttish.” The goal, at least from my perspective, is to encourage our society to embrace and accept  women’s healthy sexuality, to not shame them or make them feel guilty about the fact that they are sexual beings, and to do all of this free of negative judgement. Then, stemming from that mentality, if a woman IS sexually assaulted, her sexual history and sexual choices she makes for herself are never to blame for why she was assaulted.

If you are a woman, you have definitely been called a slut at least once in your life. (actually, I’d be shocked if it was only once) Maybe you were called this as an insult, as a joke, or maybe you don’t even know it was said about you. Whatever the reason, I guarantee every woman has been called a slut before, and the majority of the time it’s meant to hurt. Every step we take toward women having accepting, shameless, healthy sexuality (even if it’s just a baby step), forces the word ‘slut’ to lose a little bit of it’s power. Then what’s expected and accepted of women will change, in turn, leaving ‘slut’ with a completely different meaning.

I can’t think of another effort, from my generation, that has had as much force as the SlutWalk movement, to take those steps in the right direction for women. For that reason, I am supporting SlutWalk.

We’re Not Promoting ‘Bad’ Fashion

I’ve really wanted to address this part of the SlutWalk movement for a while now, but until now, I’ve struggled with how to write it effectively. When I first blogged about the remarks that the Toronto Police officer said, someone responded by asking me if I would encourage my daughter (if I ever have one) to dress ‘slutty’. Here lies another problem with our definition of the word ‘slut’ and telling women not to dress like one.

What is considered ‘slutty’ and who gets to decide what clothes are too ‘slutty’. A mini-skirt and a halter top? Jeans and a t-shirt? Tight yoga pants and a tank-top? It’s all culturally constructed and so very much tied to personal opinion and taste, that trying to define what ‘slutty’ looks like is absolutely absurd.

When I was younger, my mom took me to a Brittany Spears concert. It was right about the time Brittany had made her debut and ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ was a huge hit. This was the time in my adolescence, that all young girls go through – the “I want to be sexy” stage (no thanks to girls like Brittany Spears) where you sneak clothes to school and put make-up on in the school bathroom so your parents won’t know (we thought we were so rebellious). I remember two girls walking up the stairs to their seats and my mom said to me, “Can you see the difference in their outfits?” Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what they were wearing, but the idea was that one girl was in a really skimpy,”slutty” little outfit and the other was in a really pretty, “sexy” outfit. The point she was trying to make, is that there is a way to look hot and attractive without looking trashy. BUT – if you choose to look trashy that’s up to you and you don’t have to look trashy/slutty to look sexy. (On the other hand, even trashy has a sexual connotation and is open to judgment just like slutty.)

I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that we see fashion disasters every day. We see sexy gone terribly trashy, and weird and unique go totally sexy and even trashy has gone sexy (look at Lady GaGa, she shocks us every time she puts something new on). Part of the beauty about living in 2011 is that we get to experiment and express ourselves in a variety of different ways. If you choose to go with what’s considered “slutty”, you should still be able to expect the same level of personal safety as someone who went with a burka (which I guess in some cultures may even be considered sexy).

My mom commented on an awesome vlog about this topic. (I highly recommend watching it.) This is what she said,

“If I AM dressing to look hot and possibly attract a man, the choice of man is MINE, and limited to the men who have a MUTUAL (meaning reciprocal or shared) attraction to me. It doesn’t mean that all men think I’m hot or vice versa.”

So, in response to the original question, if my daughter wanted to go somewhere looking ‘slutty’, I would do my best to show her the difference between dressing ‘classy’ and dressing ‘trashy’. But only because it’s good fashion sense and not because she should fear for her safety if she chooses to dress ‘trashy’/’slutty’.

Because I Believe that Crimes of Fashion are not Punishable by Rape 

I’m supporting SlutWalk because I believe in healthy, positive sexual autonomy for all people. Because I believe in freedom of fashion without the fear of sexual assault. I believe in a world where the only people we blame for sexual assault, are the people committing the assault. Because I believe that men are much better than the standard that victim-blaming and rape apologists set for them. Because I believe in the power our feminist resources have to change the world. I know that too many men and women are being sexually assaulted on a daily basis and that makes me sick, sad and angry. Because I believe that as a culture we can do better. I believe that we can come together, despite our differences, to create a movement that will improve the way we think and forever change the victim-blaming, slut-shaming mentality of the culture we live in. And because I believe the SlutWalk movement has the potential to create a better world for ourselves, our sisters, our daughters and even our daughter’s daughters. 

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A New Project

31 Mar

Starting a new project! Love it! My hopes is that one day it will be a book as well as a series of short video clips. Check out the blog thats already started!

Click Here

Very Excited about this!

FYI: My Clothes are Not an Invitation to Rape Me

20 Feb

I absolutely LOVE this campaign from the UK.

If you haven’t read it about it already, there was a cop from Toronto that recently spoke at a campus safety information session and said women can avoid being sexually assaulted by not dressing like “a slut.”

Dear Mr. Officer,
I don’t care if I’m wearing the sluttiest outfit or a skimpy top or if I’m totally naked. What I choose to wear does NOT, by ANY means, give anyone the right to sexually assault me. My clothing or how I act or what I’ve had to drink, doesn’t excuse a man from sexually assaulting me. My slutty outfit is NOT an open invitation for a man to rape me.

The fact that he said this proves that there is still a mindset about blaming the victim of rape or sexual assault. This is precisely why so many women are afraid to come forward after they have been raped. They’re afraid that someone will say, “well you know, you were dressed a little slutty tonight.” They’re afraid that they won’t be believed or that they’ll be told they shouldn’t have been walking alone or had that last drink.

Thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk says

A woman’s outfit is often used during a rape trial to discredit her reputation and suggest she is the “sort of woman” unlikely to refuse consent to sex.

Someone needs to take the time to educate this cop about the facts and reasons behind rape. Rape is violent. Rape is not about sex it’s about control and power.  Rape is not about what I decide to wear. I’m not sure when we all starting thinking that if a man is sexually aroused he becomes this uncontrollable monster and can’t stop himself. Men are not animals. We should be able to hold them to a higher standard.

1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

I want you to think of four women you know. Your mom, your sister, your friend, your girlfriend, your grandma, your daughter. Based on the statistics at least one of those women has been sexually assaulted. How can we be okay with this? How can we be ok with a police officer who has taken an oath to upload the law has the audacity to say something as sexist and insulting as, women can help prevent their own sexual assault if they cover up more?

The students that were at the meeting where this cop made the statement are demanding an apology. Lets be honest, an apology is not enough. If there’s one cop out there that really believes this, that means there’s plenty more. This is going to deter many more women from coming forward and suffering in silence after they’ve been assaulted. This needs to stop. More men need to man up and be part of the fight to end sexual violence. Enough is enough.

If you are a victim of rape here are some places you can go for help (I wouldn’t suggest starting with the cop at the Toronto police department.):

RAINN is a great place to start for help. The Rape Crisis Center for children, men and women. There are many many places and people who can help you. Don’t be afraid to talk about it and find help.

Living Beautifully and Fearlessly

21 Nov

Me today!

I finally have a reason to seriously clean my house. Like SERIOUSLY clean. My loft looks like a hoarder lives up there. This afternoon I was trying to go through all the lose papers and other crap that’s in the loft and it was pretty interesting. I found a lot of things I’d written years ago and I could actually see the path and journey my career choices have taken; Photography > Makeup > Logos > Print Design > Publication. As much as it looks like a giant mess, I’m finding a lot of little bits and pieces of the places I’ve been. Like a time capsule of how far I’ve came since I moved here five years ago.

Of all the things I found this was one of my favorites. I had written this on some lose leaf paper and it’s dated 2007. It almost brought tears to my eyes because I remember there being a little while where I felt really lost. I hadn’t made any good friends here and I wasn’t truly happy with photography any more. It’s amazing to think how much I’ve been through since then . . . I really lived up to what I’d written in this declaration to myself.

Here it is:

2007

You never know what you might come across. The most exquisite realizations. Someone or something you’ve been looking for your whole life. Something you had wanted forever, but never knew it. I’m no longer going to define my life and my experiences. I’m not really in control. At least not as much as I believed I was. I’m not going to keep trying to make things something they’re not. If a situation is awful, I’m going to let it be awful. If an experience is pushing me in a new direction, I’m going to stop pushing back. I just want to let my life flow. It really is just a chain reaction taking me day by day. Stop controlling and let my chain react. Allow myself to free fall blindly into the best of life. The best it has to offer. The most it has to give. I want my rays of indigo sun back. I want to show my heart to the world. I’ve been beautifully broken by a beautiful disaster. Broken for all the right reasons a disaster could cause. Can you be broken beautifully? Can a disaster be just as beautiful as the break? Maybe not, but I’m not worried. I’m not scared for the first time in a long time. I can’t react to fear anymore. It makes for a worried experience. Full of nerves. Makes my insides scream like the breaks on the subway train. From now on I’m just going to live . . . live fully and beautifully without fear.

Women’s Lib Movement

11 Jun

This was said by Joyce Stevens in 1975. Amazing how much of it still holds true 35 years later.

Because a woman’s work is never done.
and is underpaid, or unpaid, or boring, or repetitious,
and we’re the first to get fired,
and what we look like is more important than what we do.
And if we get raped its our fault
and if we get beaten we must have provoked it
and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches
and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos
and if we don’t we’re frigid
and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a real man
and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic or pushy
and if we expect childcare we’re selfish
and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and un-feminine
and if we don’t we’re typical weak females
and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man
and if we don’t we’re unnatural
and because we still can’t get an adequate, safe contraceptive, but men can walk on the moon
and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion
and for lots and lots of other reasons
we are part of the women’s liberation movement.

– Joyce Stevens, International Woman’s Day, 1975.

French McDonald’s – Come As You Are

2 Jun

This French McDonald’s ad features a gay teen. At first I thought, “oh, how awesomely progressive?” Then I watched it and I can’t decide if i think it’s really progressive or a slick way of showing a kid who had to be closeted with his dad. What do you think? Either way, it’s great that McDonald’s is taking the initiative to embrace different sexualities. One step at a time right?


Or maybe they’re saying:

Even if ur fam doesn’t accept you – mcdonalds will. Thereby contributing to increasing the size of ur ass. Can’t tell ur parents you’re gay? It’s ok – just have some French fries! =)