(Image from Skreened.com)
STRONG LANGUAGE ALERT!!! Mom, you may want to skip this
Back in the early to mid-90s, when I was coming of age, there were two main topics which dominated discussions about women’s rights. Now, this may be due to where I lived and where I went to school (California, a fairly liberal college) but the two main gender-related topics on the table were:
1) AIDS and the need for everyone to protect themselves from it (via safe sex)
2) Date rape
There was a campus event called “Take Back The Night”: a candlelight vigil where women and men marched through the university in the dark. The event was meant to illuminate the dangers women face at night, most specifically sexual assault, from fellow students or anonymous attackers. Our college had quite the reputation as a “fun place”, and it even won the Playboy title for “Biggest Party School” a few times. I think the designation was mostly true, and was due to an irresistible combination of the location (directly on a beach), the fact that the entire student community is a closely knit town where students can bike or walk everywhere and the weather, which is rarely below a balmy 70%. Anyway, the statistics at the college at the time claimed 1 in 4 women would be sexually assaulted. 1 in 4. This was a message that was frequently discussed: at parties, in the college newspaper, on banners around campus, in class. You couldn’t avoid that message if you tried.
It seems to me as if in the last year the agenda had shifted, pretty dramatically. Suddenly, we are talking about whether women should use birth control AT ALL and whether women in short skirts are “asking for it” and of course there is the growing movement for personhood (which undermines IVF treatments completely) and the restrictions on abortion and more and more….
I came across this article yesterday, which was incredibly upsetting. And I found myself wondering, is this the direction that society as a whole is going?
Then I thought, you know what? Women vote. We matter. We count. We have economic power, as Justine pointed out.
Esperanza wrote a post which has been percolating in my head all day.
The word I am most concerned about is the word SLUT. It is an ugly, ugly word. And it may be the word underlining most of the political debate about gender right now. It’s not spoken, but it’s implied. She’s a SLUT, so she got what she had coming. She’s a SLUT, she should deal with the consequences of a rape. (Including parenting a child, even if she’s 11, even if her father is the father.) She’s a SLUT, I shouldn’t have to pay for her birth control: she needs to be in the kitchen barefoot with her five children.
Aside: why aren’t we discussing why VIAGRA should be covered by public health plans?
Words are powerful, but what if we could remake a word so it wasn’t a slur? What if we could reclaim the word slut, make it our own?
Or maybe we shouldn’t. I don’t know. But I did see someone post a photo of the banner “Sluts Vote” on Twitter and it made my heart glad.
What do you think? Should we try to reclaim the word “slut?” Would that work?