By Guest Contributor Kimberia Sherva
I’m proud to be a slut. No, really I am. After all the brouhaha in the news with Rush Limbaugh’s attempts at slut shaming and the enormous backlash, I can finally be myself. Last year’s Person of the Year for Time magazine was the Protestor. Perhaps this year, it can be the Slut.
SlutWalk Minneapolis is part of a global grassroots effort to educate people about the rape culture, to dispel the myths of rape and sexual assault and to provide support and validity to those who have been raped and/or sexually assaulted. It is a fact that when someone comes forward with rape charges, the survivor is often the one put on trial and judged. As has often been said, society says “Don’t get raped,” and it needs to be “Don’t rape.”
Society says, don’t do this and don’t do that and do this and do that and it’s been a laundry list of “Ways to Avoid Being Raped.” So we do this and do that and carry mace and take self-defense classes and the statistics stay the same. One in three women and one in six men are raped over their lifetime. This only counts as one rape and for some people it isn’t the only rape. A woman is raped every two minutes. In the time it will take me to write this out (perhaps 30 minutes or so) at least fifteen women have been raped.
Something is obviously broken and it’s not the people who are “Doing All the Right Things.” By putting the onus of behavior where it belongs, which is on the rapist, we can concentrate on taking care of our survivors and of prosecuting the rapist to the full extent of the law. Survivors can come forward and know that they will be believed and treated with respect regardless of gender or sexual identity. Police officers are trained in the right way to gather evidence. Survivors are protected from day one to the last day of trial. Juries have no patience for “What were you wearing?” and “How much did you drink?” and “How many sexual partners have you had?” Judges won’t base their decisions on factors such as relationship status, “forcible rape,” or other archaic ways of thinking that dilute a rapist’s jail time.
We acknowledge that rape occurs throughout socioeconomic stratas. We understand that cultural beliefs and norms prohibit some people from reporting a rape. We won’t dismiss someone because they’re in a same-sex relationship or because they’re transitioning from one sex to another or if they identify as gender neutral. The most important thing we can do is believe. Then we support the survivors and we work with them to put their rapist behind bars.
People who are sex positive have no shame in their sexuality nor should they. No one should be judged based on who and how many people they’ve been intimate with over their lives. If a person self identifies as a “slut,” more power to them. Slut shouldn’t be a word of shame and degradation and blame. Slut shouldn’t be a word used by those who are in a position of privilege to keep others subjugated. Slut isn’t a weapon slung by insecure petty jealous people who do their level best to bludgeon someone’s self-respect, self-esteem, and reputation.
The rape culture encourages people to snub sex positivity. It encourages people to have a mob mentality when it comes to stereotypical thinking of sexual behavior and expectations. It’s a difficult war we’re waging as the rape culture is permeated in society’s way of thinking, in our mass media, and in how we act.
SlutWalk Minneapolis isn’t about to call it a day when the going gets rough. We know it’s a long fight but that’s OK. Ten years ago, Ms. Fluke would have been ignored and public opinion would have supported Rush Limbaugh’s vitriolic attack. But that was then and this is now and NOW we aren’t buying it. We might not be at a point where the word “slut” is socially acceptable in the mainstream, but we are at the point where “slut” is not acceptable as an attack.
Ten years from now, who can say where we’ll be? I’d love to make a prediction of hope and say that more of us will be willing to stand up and say we’ve had enough of the rape culture, we’ve had enough of slut shaming, and we’ve had more than enough of blaming the survivors. It’ll take time but all good things worth having take time and the legacy that we’re planting now will blossom someday for our future generations.
I’m proud to be a slut and proud to have brought SlutWalk to Minneapolis. I’ve made some fantastic friends and have some magnificent allies amongst the businesses in town who support what we’re doing in the Twin Cities.
Join us. I know it won’t always be easy but I can definitely guarantee you it won’t be boring.
Kimberia Sherva is the Executive Director and Social Network Coordinator of SlutWalk Minneapolis. In her own words: “I consider myself to be a free spirit, a rebel, a rabble rouser, and an all around feisty grrrl with stars in my eyes. I’m a geek, a mother, a wife, a friend, a writer, a reader and up for mischief when the moon is full. Open minds and open doors appeal to me and I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”