We should teach general ethics to both men and women, but sexual relationships themselves must not be policed. Sex, like the city streets, would be risk-free only in totalitarian regimes. – Camille Paglia
Our monthly collection of articles related at least tangentially to issues covered in this blog.
Walk Like a Slut, Talk Like a Slut
I first saw this story on Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago and didn’t really feel it lay in my sphere of coverage. But when Dave Krueger, who guest-blogged on The Agitator for the past two weeks, asked for my opinion about the story I thought about it a bit harder and decided I would write about it after all. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, “SlutWalks” are protests against the sort of attitude displayed by Toronto cop Michael Sanguinetti, who told a group of female students at a safety seminar that the best way to avoid being raped is to “Avoid dressing like sluts.” While I agree that a woman should take responsibility for her own safety by not carelessly putting herself into dangerous situations, the idea that men are such savages that their passions can be inflamed beyond control by the mere sight of a woman walking down a public street dressed in a provocative manner, is like something one might expect to hear from the nearest Ayatollah. Getting drunk at a frat party and going upstairs alone with an equally-drunk frat boy will probably get a girl raped even if she buys her clothes from the boys’ department, and blaming rape victims for their manner of dress is a lot like blaming prostitutes for being robbed (see next item) or murdered. This distinction seems unclear even to the usually-reasonable crowd over at The Agitator, which is part of why I changed my mind about covering the story. But the final deciding factor was a comment by reader Beste linking this May 8th Guardian editorial from anti-porn fanatic Gail Dines and prohibitionist lawyer Wendy Murphy:
…The organisers claim that celebrating the word “slut”, and promoting sluttishness in general, will help women achieve full autonomy over their sexuality. But the focus on “reclaiming” the word slut fails to address the real issue. 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. Advocates would be better off exposing the myriad ways in which the law and the culture enable myths about all types of women – sexually active or “chaste” alike. These myths facilitate sexual violence by undermining women’s credibility when they report sex crimes. Whether we blame victims by calling them “sluts” (who thus asked to be raped), or by calling them “frigid” (who thus secretly want to be overpowered), the problem is that we’re blaming them for their own victimisation no matter what they do. Encouraging women to be even more “sluttish” will not change this ugly reality…While the organisers of the SlutWalk might think that proudly calling themselves “sluts” is a way to empower women, they are in fact making life harder for girls who are trying to navigate their way through the tricky terrain of adolescence. Women need to take to the streets – but not for the right to be called “slut”. Women should be fighting for liberation from culturally imposed myths about their sexuality that encourage gendered violence. Our daughters – and our sons – have the right to live in a world that celebrates equally women’s sexual freedom and bodily integrity.
Obviously, Dines’ and Murphy’s prohibitionist definition of “sexual freedom” does not include the choice of what to do with our own bodies, since Dines believes we shouldn’t be allowed to be photographed naked and Murphy thinks only her kind of whoredom (namely, law practice) should be legal. The very fact that these disgusting hypocrites (who condemn the Madonna/whore duality while aggressively promoting their own version of it) are against SlutWalks is sufficient reason for me to endorse them. A comment on the Facebook page for Boston SlutWalk says that “…the nature of your being is not determined by how many sexual partners you have,” to which I would add “…nor the reason you choose to have sex with them.”
And Speaking of Victim Blaming…
It’s entirely absent from both this May 5th Huffington Post story and the bulk of the commentary which follows it, though the headline writer apparently felt compelled to cater to cheap sensationalism by referring to the girls as “Craigslist prostitutes”:
Two prostitutes were assaulted and robbed in hotel rooms by a man responding to their online ads, and police on Friday were looking for two suspects…A 24-year-old who advertised on the classifieds site backpage.com was robbed of her cash and phone on April 30. She was sliced in the hand and treated at a hospital, police said. The second woman, who is 30 years old and advertised on Craigslist, was at the Roosevelt Hotel at about noon on May 1. Police said the suspect brandished a knife and she struggled with him, until she was choked unconscious and then awoke to discover her money, a phone and a laptop were missing. She didn’t request medical attention. Police said the suspects were of similar height and build and were asking anyone with information on their whereabouts to call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers hot line, (800) 577-TIPS…
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for most of the comments on the New York Daily News version of the same story. Clearly, at least a few people are waking up (despite the best efforts of government agencies and prohibitionists to keep them asleep), but they don’t read the Daily News.
Saddest Story of the Month
I’ve written before about governmental attempts to legislate “sex offenders” out of existence by restricting where they can live so tightly that, apparently, the government believes they’ll just all move away to Pervertland or something. Of course, any reasonable person would understand that if government makes it impossible for someone to live legally he’ll simply live illegally; what choice did the man from this May 4th Guardian story really have?
Albuquerque authorities arrested a homeless man for failing to notify them that he had moved out of the industrial rubbish bin he listed as his address. KOB-TV reported that Charles Mader is a convicted sex offender and is required to give the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department a physical address. Detectives say Mader violated his sex offender registration requirement after moving out of the dumpster and failing to report the move within 10 days. On Monday, deputies found Mader at a homeless shelter and arrested him…Sheriff’s officials say Mader could face up to three years in jail for failing to register for a third time.
The excuse used by the police was the “failure to notify”, but I’ll bet if some reporter cares to research it he’ll find that there are no homeless shelters in Albuquerque to which the man could legally move due to residency restrictions. In other words, he was actually arrested for daring to crawl out of the dumpster to which the “justice system” had consigned him.