Ben Pobjie knows this will be some people’s first SlutWalk; here’s his advice for newbies.
So it’s SlutWalk time again, that magical time of year when all people of goodwill get together to chuckle indulgently at middle-aged men spluttering into their beer at the excesses of modern feminism. And naturally at this joyous time, there will be many of you just itching to head down to the State Library on September 1 (the first day of spring incidentally, and aptly) and join the SlutWalk army in its crusade.
And that’s all fine and dandy, but as JRR Tolkien said, one does not simply walk into Slutwalk, except of course in a strictly literal sense. You can’t just waltz up and expect to be an expert Slutwalker right off the bat – there are ways to behave, principles to adhere to, proprieties to observe. Basically, for the first time Slutwalk attendee, there is a Slutwalk etiquette – or Slutiquette – that needs to be borne in mind, if we are all to have a happy Slutwalk without making damn fools of ourselves right out there in public in front of a massive crowd of sexy ladies and mounted police officers.
Allow me to elucidate:
- It may be that you choose to assume the position of spectator, rather than active Slutwalker. Now, this is fine – watching the parade go by can be a lovely way to pass an afternoon, and a bit of tasteful cheering may even be in order. However it is important to remember – you are not a commentator. Unless you are a registered employee of the media organisation which has purchased the broadcasting rights to Slutwalk, please refrain from providing running commentary or loudly passing judgment on the walkers before you – it is simply not the done thing, and may expose you to adverse gossip in society and being called a bit of a knob.
- It is especially important to recognise the consequences of your actions. For example, you may be tempted, when seeing a Slutwalker nearby, to shout, “SLUT!” Now, without wanting to seem overly prescriptive, behaviourally speaking, anyone hoping to “make a splash” in this way should be aware that a lot of people are immediately going to turn, point, and laugh at you. Again, I stress that calling women you don’t know sluts is not banned, per se, at Slutwalk – it’s just that if you do it you’re going to be really embarrassed, and that would be a real shame. I’d hate to see you make that sort of rookie mistake and make an idiot of yourself.
- If you are a man, you may be under the impression that, since most of the Slutwalkers will be women, you’ll be able to exert some kind of control or power over them. So it’s important to remember: don’t be such an idiot.
- Please refrain from attempting to rape or otherwise commit any assaults while at Slutwalk. Recent media reports indicate this can sometimes be quite difficult for some people, but it’s important you “go the extra mile” and really do your best to avoid being a violent criminal. I know you can do it!
- Let’s address the elephant in the room: these Slutwalkers are absolutely smokin’. Try not to fall in love.
- Respect differences. Different people have different ideas on the word “slut”, what it means, how and when it should or shouldn’t be used, and how best to address the issues arising from it. Remember that the well-mannered Slutwalker does not obsess over divisions, but celebrates unity – no matter what disagreements you may have with fellow Slutwalkers, try to keep in mind that you are all folk of goodwill, all bent on ending victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and inequality. Especially remember: better to be a slut than to be someone who enjoys calling people they don’t like sluts. Keep marching forward for liberation, and don’t commit any faux pas by hitting people with your umbrella.
- Be happy! There’s nothing more calculated to create a downbeat atmosphere than a glum Slutwalker. Remember that Slutwalk a chance to celebrate how much more awesome it is to take to the streets in the name of a kinder, more loving, less misogynist world, than to stay sitting around bitching about sluts and wishing the world had stayed as misogynist as it was when you were a lad.
- Be not afraid. Yes, there will be a lot of people there, and yes, there will be feminists. And yes, feminists are those people that your mother warned you about, assuming your mother is News Ltd. But if you take a deep breath, grit your teeth, and just plunge right in, you will find that actually feminists are the sweetest, softest, cuddliest of creatures, and you will be quite safe with them. In fact, statistics show that the middle of a big bunch of feminists is probably the safest place you can possibly be at any given time, especially compared to alternatives such as the middle of a big bunch of professional footballers, or a Channel Nine television studio.
- Be bold. As a first-time Slutwalker, you may be made a bit nervous by the idea of “protesting” or “demonstrating” or “walking” (that last one has always been a bit of a sticking point for me). But there is no greater gaffe you can make at a Slutwalk than forgetting that your cause is righteous and your sword-arm is mighty, and you will not be silenced!!!!!!!! Sorry I got a bit carried away there, but the point stands: Slutiquette demands that you make your voice heard in exuberant and full-throated manner, because you know those guys? Those guys who don’t think you should be Slutwalking? You better believe they won’t be afraid to get loud.
- This is perhaps the most vital and trickiest of the aspects of Slutwalk manners, so listen close. If, by any chance, you were hoping to show up at Slutwalk to make anyone feel ashamed, or inferior, or immoral, because of the way they dress, the way they talk, or the way they choose to live their life…dude, give it up. You haven’t got a prayer.
So, now that you know how to behave at Slutwalk without making a right goose of yourself or causing offence to anyone except the people who, let’s face it, we all want to cause offence to, you are all set to enter the exciting and rewarding world of Slutwalking! Isn’t it exciting? Happy Slutwalking to you all, and I hope that on September 1, we will see you all, living loving, and kicking arse. Go you good sluts!