Saturday, June 18, 2011

White dominant discourse, the word "Slut" and missing the real issue.

 The following is a copy and paste of the email sent to slutwalkaotearoa@gmail.com:

To the Organisers of Slutwalk Aotearoa,

Thank you so much for sticking your necks out and organising this event. I know that it's no easy task, especially with all the attention that the event has been receiving - both positive and negative. It's a lot to take on and I do appreciate the effort. I write to you with some concerns that I have been mulling over the past few weeks about Slutwalk Aotearoa. I write personally as a young, educated, privileged, middle class, asian feminist, woman of colour. These are my concerns, although I am sure I am not alone in them. I apologise for the timing, I am aware that it is only a week away but I feel as though there is enough time to genuinely address my concerns in this time as well.

I feel that the name of Slutwalk is its biggest downfall. It is exclusive of class, race, culture, and age. What I mean by this should be explained further on. I am hesitant to begin this discussion with you as I feel it is unfair that I, as an Asian person, need to constantly 'educate' white people about their privilege, amongst other privileges that you hold in being the organisers of the event. If your privilege is invisible to you, it definitely isn't invisible to me. It is important to acknowledge the power you have and to use it in a way that empowers and shares that power amongst the people you wish to represent.

Engaging recently in Facebook pages of both the Auckland and Wellington chapters, I am alarmed at the surprisingly limited and narrow views on what causes rape and sexual violence and no one keeping these people informed about what the real drive and message of Slutwalk should be. I think there has been a conversation I had on the Slutwalk Aotearoa: Wellington Chapter's page that will save me from repeating myself and give context about the attitudes I speak of. I am in no way suggesting that any of the other people engaged in that discussion are the sole perpetrators of these views - http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=152697438136699&id=139962719410171&cmntid=153023491437427

I would like you, the organisers, to pay special attention to the following part of that conversation:
"when I originally was invited to join this walk: the description implicitedly encouraged people to 'dress like sluts and reclaim the term'. That's where my thoughts lie and remain. If they really wanted it to be inclusive they would have taken more regard to the multiple opinions of it being exclusive and acknowledged that the conversations were surrounding the name of the walk. We don't need to follow suit precisely to the T. NZ has been known to set new trends despite how small we are in comparison to the world so don't even try to give me the excuse that this is just one of many other walks around the world."
- The 'it' I refer to is the event under the banner of "Slutwalk" and the 'they' is you, the organisers.

"
If proportionately more rape is by acquaintance rape then why is it that we're addressing stranger rape caused by dress and appearance? Does that not seem any bit contrary to the goal?" - This is relevant to this conversation because I really believe that the general public and a very large proportion of the slutwalk supporters miss this point. The title "Slutwalk" refers to that origin of the march, but does not speak to the evolvement of the march in addressing all forms of gendered and sexual violence.

I think that it would be relevant to engage with conversations that have been had overseas where other slutwalks have been organised. Here are some that speak to some of the things I bring up, each with their own angle which will provide a wider perspective.
http://tothecurb.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/slutwalk-a-stroll-through-white-supremacy/
http://selftravels2010.livejournal.com/2497.html
http://rabble.ca/news/2011/05/slutwalk-march-or-not-march

I am genuinely interested in supporting this event and cause, I'm just not sure that Slutwalk in its current form speaks to the core of the issue of sexual assault and gender violence towards women. I hope that this letter gives you the information to address my concerns and that you are able to amend the issues I have raised. Please feel free to contact me if you need to, I am offering myself to be available for further discussions, within reason, if that's what you so wish.

Yours sincerely,
Giang Pham

4 comments:

  1. Hrm, I seemed to have missed mentioning the white dominant discourse part explicitly but it is addressed in the facebook discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Giang, I agree with the points that you've raised. I hope the organisers of Slutwalk do hold a conversation with you. If it is not just a fashion-feminist thing but a very genuine engagement with the issue at hand, I don't see why they would not be able to at least have a chat.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I feel really disheartened by the lack of response and empty attempts to contact me by the organisers of these here slutwalks. Watch this space, I'll expand on what I mean in a new post soon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm really glad you put this on the slutwalk Dunedin page. I can see that by doing this you've kinda put yourself 'out there', and I think that's choice, (from my own experience i know it can also be isolating and hard). I find it disappointing that women (white women mostly i think) are so reluctant to engage with perspectives that are outside what they're used to thinking/feeling about, and in doing so, push away counter discussions as if these are somehow distracting from 'the point'...
    to me it's all part of the point - Standing in solidarity is about diverging as much is it is about agreeing. I'm being a bit vague, I know. Just wanted to say good on ya, what your doing makes more space for Other voices, and that makes me feel good.
    x
    Nga Mihi Nui,

    Hana Plant

    ReplyDelete