Slutwalk 2012 in Chicago, and the impact of "Stop Patriarchy..."

October 15, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


September 29 was bright, sunny, and a very inspiring day in the Windy City. Hundreds of people—mainly defiant young women—came together for "Slutwalk," rallying and marching through the streets of Chicago. This outpouring in Chicago is part of an international movement that has sprung up since last year in cities across the planet, demanding an end to the rape and sexual assault of women and taking on the whole culture of "blame the victim" and a consensus of silence throughout society which supports a heightened degradation of women.

Many of the women attending Slutwalk are from colleges in the Chicago area, some dressed in provocative ways in a highly theatrical attempt to "flip the script" on the sentiment expressed by a Toronto police officer who provoked the "Slutwalk" movement in 2011 by declaring that women who didn't want to be raped should "avoid dressing like sluts." In Chicago's Loop this year, hundreds of young women took to the streets—in anger and yes, in joy—joined by older women, young Black, white and Latino men, and whole families attending in support of their daughters who survived sexual assault or who died at the hands of their attackers.

A group of us came down to unite with this powerful and very welcome manifestation and to raise a banner saying "STOP PATRIARCHY, RESIST THE CULTURE OF RAPE AND PORNOGRAPHY—STAND UP FOR ABORTION RIGHTS," Some of us were wearing our Revolution tee-shirts and some the "stop" shirt, with the slogan "If You Can't Imagine Sex without Porn, You're Fucked!" A couple of us got out the stop palmcards and other materials, while others got out Revolution newspaper and did thumbnail interviews with the people participating in the event. Slutwalk snaked through the streets chanting "Blame the System, not the Victim," and then many got up to the mic, again and again and from all sorts of points of view to denounce the crimes against women and how it affects all of us. Our group definitely impacted Slutwalk with our advanced expressions, and most especially with our stickers that went viral among this highly receptive crowd: everywhere and on many body parts, you saw the flashes of neon, emblazoned with the slogan from the stop patriarchy shirt as well as "Imagine (crossed out)—Create—a World Without Rape" and "Abortion on Demand without Apology." People gave generously, so that we raised more than $150 on the day. And people poured out their rich thinking about all this to us, expressing their fury at the nightmare that half of humanity faces and their hopes for a better world, and also told us what struck them about what it would take to end this age-old and worldwide oppression of women and the fact that some of us were saying it would take communist revolution to end this and were calling on them to be part of that.

A 25-year-old white working class woman from a small town in Illinois told us, "I came here because I am a rape victim myself. I was actually raped by a cousin at 4 years old and it continued till I was about 10 years old! I came here to support my best friend who committed suicide my junior year in high school because this happened to her! By her own father. Since she was two years old. Her father did not go to jail. Because he knew the police in my town. And when I see the police here today, hemming us in, I say, 'Fuck the Police!'"

A college student from the Mexican community told us, "Rape can happen to anyone. I was on campus wearing a tee-shirt and sweat pants when I was sexually assaulted. I was not looking for it! The thing that infuriates me the most is that they say it is the victim to blame! We are not to blame!" Her mother responded to what Revolution was putting forward, "Overthrowing this entire society and all its institutions and ideas strikes me as radical. But a culture of rape may demand a radical solution. If all we can do under this government is try to vote out a lot of this and that just doesn't work, well, then I say whatever it will take!"

A young woman who works in the fashion industry and is a dominatrix in the BDSM scene told us, "When I saw your banner saying 'stop patriarchy' I just ran to grab it!" When confronted with our point of view, insisting that we must fight for a new society where no woman sells herself, she confided, "I didn't ask to be a sex worker. Yes, being a dominatrix wears on you. It colors your whole view of humanity . . . not just your view of men."

A 35-year-old woman told us, "I am Brazilian. I moved to the States when I was 13. I've been exotified and eroticized all throughout school from the time I was 13. Parents, teachers, boys in school, all telling me that I dressed 'slutty.' ... I work with middle schoolers today. And the messages these girls receive if they are interested in having some type of relationship with boys or other girls, that they are sluts, that they are whores and dykes. This is ridiculous! They are kids! Exploring their sexuality and I think it's perfectly normal... I was at Slutwalk in Rio for 2011. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my city. Rio is a city full of macho culture. There are tourists that go to Rio just for the sex, just for the women. The main thing exported from Rio is images of women, of Carnivale. I think it was very powerful to have women in the streets of Rio not for Carnivale, not for men to grab. But women who were playing drums, doing martial arts in the streets, capoeira. We were no longer sexual objects. We are fierce, fearless, we are strong. We can wear what we want. We are not for men to gawk at. We are not sexual objects."

Chicago Slutwalk, September 29, 2012
Chicago Slutwalk, September 29, 2012

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