SlutWalk is not about Sluts

Posted On: December 9, 2011

This article first appeared on the Good Vibrations Magazine.

As a sexologist in Singapore, I am interested in all news related to sex and sexuality; I’m also subscribed to the news feeds of fellow sexuality educators around the world.

When I first read about the outrage of Canadian activists following the suggestion of Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” to remain safe, I wondered “What are they going to do about it? What can they – or anyone – do?”

When the SlutWalk movement started, all I thought was “Good on them.” The campaign started growing. On 23 April, I shared on my Facebook page that SlutWalks had gone viral.

Even then, I did not pay much notice to it until it reached India. If they could plan a SlutWalk in New Delhi, why can’t we in Singapore? Could I make it happen? How could I? I also knew the laws in Singapore preventing any kind of public protests other than in Hong Lim Park. So what would be the point?

And besides, I rationalised, I run a one-person practice and definitely do not have the time or resources to organise a public event of any major scale. What I did instead was share the link for SlutWalk on my Facebook page. Within seconds, my Singaporean friends were in turn re-sharing the article.

On 19 June, I learned that a group of people were indeed planning a SlutWalk. I immediately shared the news on Facebook: “SlutWalk in Singapore? It blows my mind!” I also reported this on Good Vibrations Magazine which I contribute to.

On 9 July, I met Vanessa Ho, for the first time. She was facilitating a panel discussion on sex which I was part of at Post Museum. She was also one of organisers of SlutWalk Singapore. I expressed my interest to support the event, and subsequently donated towards it, even in a small way.

Yesterday, I was there at SlutWalk Singapore, and it was heart-warming to witness the solidarity and out-flowing of love everywhere, in spite of the rain. 674 people showed up.

This is a movement that speaks to me because:

  • SlutWalk shouts the message of: Don’t rape! Instead of Don’t get raped!
  • SlutWalk reminds us that no one deserves to live in fear of being sexually assaulted.
  • SlutWalk speaks of sexual violence as being not about how one is dressed, but power and dominance over another.
  • SlutWalk highlights that there should never be any excuses for victim blaming.
  • SlutWalk is about breaking the cycle of violence and hatred that pervades the fabric of our society.

When I was pursuing my doctorate at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, the question of what ‘a slut’ actually is came up. My professor, Dr Thomas Gertz, said, “A slut is someone who has more sex than you.” Later he added, “I don’t ever want to hear any of you calling anybody a slut.” To do so is passing judgment about how one ought to lead their life and how their sexuality is to be expressed.

SlutWalk is not about sluts.

It is about the people not being afraid of being who they actually are.

It is also about a small group of individuals who are making a difference – who dare because they care.

I am looking forward to the next SlutWalk Singapore. Are you?

Dr Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), as well as certified sexologist with ACS (American College of Sexologists). She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia. For more, visit www.eroscoaching.com.

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