Why are Black Women not Buying into 'SlutWalks'?
1 year ago
Marches denouncing women being at fault for sexual assaults aren't connecting with women of color
By now, you’ve may have heard of SlutWalk, a series of protests designed to eradicate the attitude that what a woman wears can cause her to be sexually harassed or assaulted. Recently, “An Open Letter from Black Women to SlutWalk Organizers” emerged on the internet in response to these marches. Dozens of black women writers, academics, activists and organizations affixed their names to the piece, which expresses “deep” concern over the growing movement:
As black women and girls we find no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it. We are perplexed by the use of the term "slut" and by any implication that this word, much like the word "Ho" or the "N" word should be re-appropriated. The way in which we are perceived and what happens to us before, during and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress. Much of this is tied to our particular history. In the United States, where slavery constructed black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the black female immigrant struggle combine, "slut" has different associations for black women. We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label.
…As black women, we do not have the privilege or the space to call ourselves "slut" without validating the already historically entrenched ideology and recurring messages about what and who the black woman is. We don't have the privilege to play on destructive representations burned in our collective minds, on our bodies and souls for generations...Every tactic to gain civil and human rights must not only consult and consider women of color, but it must equally center all our experiences and our communities in the construction, launching, delivery and sustainment of that movement…We ask that SlutWalk take critical steps to become cognizant of the histories of people of color and engage women of color in ways that respect culture, language and context…