Why I Slutwalk : Stella

I had to leave work to calm myself down today. A female colleague said: “I tell my daughter (who is eighteen) that, if she is going to wear tight clothing, she deserves whatever she gets.” I paused. Was this woman, who I have full respect for as a colleague, saying what I thought she was saying? In this day and age?

“That’s a dangerous thing to say to your child,” I said. A rare challenging tone in my voice that she was not used to. “Basically, you are saying that if she is sexually assaulted, then it will be her fault. That the perpetrator is innocent,” I said.

“That’s right. That’s what I believe. If a girl dresses up in a way that reveals her body, she is asking for it. Boys will be boys,” my colleague continued.

Seething with anger, I left the conversation before I exploded. This wasn’t the time or place to explode. Every cell in my body was burning with anger and pain, as acute as though I myself were a daughter who had been blamed for being raped. Trans-generational trauma is like that. It flares up at various moments, and it is not easily cooled down.

Yet, I am grateful that I heard this woman’s attitude today. Because now I see that these prehistoric attitudes exist even in people I thought were intelligent, decent women. And these attitudes are now being passed on to her daughter, to the next generation. She is continuing rape culture. She is ensuring that women in future generations will be shamed and blamed for sexual violence. But her words are just one example of the ignorance of those who are helping to continue rape culture.

I have a son. And what she is also saying is that he is an animal, unable to exercise choice and acting purely on prehistoric instinct to hunt and procreate. What this attitude also says is that he is perfectly within his right to rape if a girl dresses in ‘tight clothing’. My son is also offended by these attitudes.

Secondly, my mother was a sexual assault survivor, and the thing that caused more damage than the rapes was the attitude of her parents. “The second wound” is what it is known as in psychology. My life was irrevocably altered as a result of her trauma, her sense of shame and fear. Most of this was caused by ‘the second wound’- being blamed by people she loved and trusted.

My mother is dead. There is strong evidence that her early death was largely related to the unprocessed trauma of the rapes and the blame.

Yet, I am grateful to hear the opinions of people like my colleague, because it acts as a barmometer for how far we have to go, and why giving up is not an option for me.

I want to make sure that there is some change in my lifetime to the way rape survivors are treated, or to make sure that there is less rape.

Posted in Support

Why I Slutwalk : Kiara

I am here because when my mother was dragged off the streets on her way home from work and raped, the first question she was asked by the police and her own mother was: “what were you wearing?”

I am here because an ex-boyfriend said if I was raped or sexually assaulted whilst we were together, he would break up with me because he couldn’t stand the idea of another man having ‘had sex with me’.

But mostly I am here because, when I was fifteen years old, I had my own experience with rape culture. It wasn’t my first experience, but it was the most real. I was, as many fifteen year-olds, enjoying myself at a house party and was getting quite drunk. There was a guy there that I had always had a thing for, and we began to kiss. I then became way too drunk and he was there, leading me away from the group.

Everyone thought he was taking me somewhere to sleep off my shots. As did I, until I found myself locked in a bathroom with him, as he began to undress me.

I tried to resist, but he ignored me. Before I knew what was happening, he was forcing himself inside me. I told him to stop.”It hurts” I said. All he could say was “shhh, it gets better.”

My friends got worried and started to look for me. They knocked on the bathroom door and he put his hand over my mouth, telling me to be quiet. I started crying and he looked down at me, rolling his eyes and says “Fine, what’s the point of being a slut if you won’t even fuck me.”

I got dressed and tried to leave before he grabbed me and said, “Aren’t you going to finish me off?” before pushing me to my knees, holding my hair and tried to force himself into my mouth. I pushed him away, and returned to the party, wildly sobbing, trying to find my friends.

When I found them and told them what happened, they cried. Not for me, though. They cried because they were so disappointed in me. They were disappointed that I had my ‘first time’ like that. They were mad at me for being too drunk. They thought it was my fault for putting myself in that situation. And as a young, naive fifteen year-old girl, I believed them.

I was ashamed, embarrassed, and loathed myself for putting myself in that situation. I was sure no-one would ever love me, knowing this about me. I didn’t see what happened to me as part of a greater problem. In my mind, I thought, “It’s not real rape, like what happened to my mum. Real rape isn’t the person’s fault, and this was my fault.”

So, I am here because I never want my future children to live in a world where survivors are blamed and destroyed like my mum was. I don’t want my daughters to be ashamed of their sexuality, or their bodies, or feel like they owe anything to men. I don’t want my sons to grow up in a world that tells them that they are owed sex. I want to live in a world where rapists and rape excusers are shamed, not rape survivors. I want to live in a world where “what were you wearing?” or “how much did you have to drink” are NEVER asked of a survivor. I want to live in a world that supports survivors.

So, that’s why I’m here for Slutwalk.

Posted in Support

Why I Slutwalk: Lauren

When I was about 12 years of age, I knew I was different to ‘normal’ boys- I realized that I liked other boys. So I went online to find answers to questions I didn’t even know yet. Very early on, I found this guy who was about 19 at the time. Over the next three years, he would help answer questions I had about myself, as I felt there wasn’t anyone else I could go to. He would sometimes ask for sexual pictures and I would send them. He would then send some to me. He would also ask to try and organize a time to meet up. I was a little unsure, but by the time I was 15 and thought I was ready to meet him.

I invited him over to my house and we performed a few sexual acts. Shortly after, I immediately regretted it and suppressed the memory. We lost contact almost immediately. Due to my age, it counts as statutory rape. Then, when I was 16, I started having flashbacks and nightmares of the time. I really struggled with it and I would find myself crying all the time and fell into a deep depression. It was also at this time I started to question my gender. It was really hard to get through the next six months as I went to see three counselors and confessed to a few people.

I was so embarrassed and I blamed myself for everything that happened: I blamed myself for letting this person into my house; I blamed myself for sending pictures; I blamed myself for not ending it when I didn’t feel safe. I decided not to go to the police at that stage, but I struggled to continue with the thought of other people going through exactly what I went through, so in June 2014, when I was 17, I filed a report. The interview was one of the most scariest things I have ever done. I was underage at the time, so they informed me that the recording of the interview could be used in court. That thought scared me. Then, after the interview, the police asked to see if I had any record of the messages. Luckily, I didn’t delete the conversations between myself and the guy.

The next 14 months was hell; I became suicidal and had a few attempts shortly after I went to see the police. They informed me that he confessed to it about a month after I reported it, but that didn’t make it any easier. I still carried the shame and embarrassment of what had happened. Then, in May 2015, I was contacted by the Office of Public Prosecution. I met up with the prosecutor and they informed me of what is going to happen. August 2015 was the Plea Hearing. Luckily for me, he decided to plead guilty and I did not have to go through a trial. He did not get jail time, but a large amount of community service hours (which, in a way, I prefer because he won’t just waste taxpayer’s money in jail, and he will be giving back to the community); I read out my Victim Impact Statement in front of him and the judge at the plea hearing. I knew this would be the hardest thing I could ever do- if I could to this, I knew I could do almost anything.

I read the statement as best I could. I was told I did a great job by a friend who came for support and the prosecution. Then I broke. I still blamed myself and hated myself for putting myself through this. The next day was sentencing and I decided to go so I knew what he got the second it happened. The judge quoted part of my statement that hopefully one day I will realize that I am not to blame, that I was the child. After the sentencing, the prosecution even told me that there was a reason that there were these laws, to protect people like me, because a child is not capable of making that decision. Even though a part of me still blames myself, I do know rationally that it is never the victim’s fault. When I look back and change me with another person, I see that I did no wrong. I was manipulated, and groomed by someone for sexual activities. This experience just makes me want me to go around and tell any victim who may blaming themselves, that it is not their fault. It is not your fault.

Posted in Support Tagged with: ,

Why I Slutwalk: Jessamy Gleeson

Because young white men still feel the need to tell me how I can best run SlutWalk more effectively, so it includes more men.

Because there are so many other privileged voices in society – in the media, in academia – that try and tell me, and other feminists, how we could run things better.

Because we need to keep trying to make feminism as inclusive as possible, whilst still recognising that power and privilege sometimes mean that some people in positions of power and privilege need to be quiet and listen.

Because being talked over by those who perceive that they can “do it better” is awful.

Because the word “slut” is a still a word that’s apparently up for debate.

Because victim blaming still happens, and we’re still being told that what a person was doing when they were assaulted or raped is somehow relevant.

Because society still doesn’t understand the concept and power and necessity of enthusiastic consent.

Because being around other people that truly “get” what SlutWalk is about (read: it’s about not tolerating victim blaming and slut shaming) is such a powerful feeling. The difference between what I see portrayed in the media about SlutWalk, and what I actually know about the march, are two very different things.

Posted in Support Tagged with: , ,

Slutwalk on JOY: August 2015

Lisa from the Slutwalk team went on JOY FM to chat about SlutTea, the march and what it means to take back such a controversial word.

 

Listen in here! 

Posted in Events, Information

Why I Slutwalk, 2015: Lisa Dib

In the lead-up to last year’s march, I discussed the personal reasons behind my passion for and involvement in Slutwalk, and there issues we march for. I told of one true morning that shaped my ideas around victim-blaming and slut-shaming, before which I had none, or presumably incorrect ones. This year, I- we are all- forced again to confront the deeply-entrenched- though not wholly immovable- ideas that society has around survivors of sexual assault, and of women in general. We shouldn’t have to, but we do.

In a world not trapped in a patriarchal iron fist, we would not have to have these marches. Survivors would be believed and assisted; predators and attackers would be justly punished. There would not be a society built upon the backs of women; there would not be a constant uphill battle for seemingly basic human decency.

But, in the lead-up to another march, I am excited. It’s hard to describe the feeling of the day: though we are racked by the pain, loss and vilification of victim-blaming and slut-shaming, we are emboldened by purpose and support. A crowd of awesome babes of all types rallying for rights and treatment we deserve; we are getting in the way and making a scene, as we should. It’s an emotional day, but I feel, alongside the sadness and confusion and bemusement that comes with being a feminist in such a society as ours, hopeful optimism; I am buoyed by the strength of the people around me.

This year will also be a tough one after the recent death of Kat Muscat.

1009262_10152146975089867_1190740015_o

Kat was a friend, and a brilliant femmo colleague; she was a proud, no-bullshit feminist who was a part of the Slutwalk team and made me proud to join, too. Her passion and bravery was contagious; I was so often in awe of easily she made being so prolific and awesome look. Plus she was cool as hell, and so bloody lovely. As a writer, I was so jealous of her talent but so happy to know her at all. It will be a real shit to have to march without her this year- as it will be every day she is not with us- but her spirit was not unlike her beautiful tattoo: “Defiance. Feminism. Empathy”– we will hold this mantra in our hearts when we march, and forever.

kattatoo

Posted in Support Tagged with: , ,

Why do you support SlutWalk?

Why do you support SlutWalk? Here are some of the fantastic responses we’ve received from our supporters about why they’ll be marching on Sunday! Remember, you’re welcome to share your message of support with us at any time!

 

10658825_10152659256534146_8618149072656870770_o

10622012_10152350307307469_57834137_n

photo

10668461_10204879057640622_1159305776_n

10610547_10204066531280116_3112027074384928690_n

542197_503005113124165_1940721034_n

1262814_503018859789457_1741682523_o

10447601_10152231352501816_6924439046866659059_n

10592816_10152231352406816_1585279131298717193_n

10628590_10152231352196816_3227361051143335254_n

10639470_10152231352546816_4019169821673612789_n

10646887_10152231352456816_9015703265479281778_n

10678734_10152231352601816_523200975943983031_n

Untitled

Posted in Support

Why I support SlutWalk – Michelle’s story

Before we share this important story with you, it’s important to note a trigger warning for the content below – in particular, for rape and assault.

This story was shared with us from Michelle Temminghoff, a SlutWalk supporter. We’d like to thank Michelle for sharing her story with us, and giving us permission to publish it on our page.

The undeniable, mad eyed glee I felt, mixed SlutWalk Melbournewith a little bit of hysterical guilt, when Lisbeth Salander (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) shoved a huge dildo up Bjurman’s arse and tattooed ‘I AM A SADISTIC PIG AND A RAPIST’  on his torso was such a ‘Fuck Yeah!’ moment for me that I’ve been seriously wondering about it ever since. I mean, should I really feel so deliriously and deliciously delighted when retribution is exacted with such violence? Ohh sweet, guilt free revenge. Larsson delivered it and I sucked on it lovingly, swallowed it deeply and let it satiate my anger.

You see, anger, rage and fury are so much a part of my happy, mild mannered existence that I have to question why that dichotomy is so seemingly normal and acceptable within me.

But as a girl and a woman, walking the streets requires a steely, watchful, ready to defend myself fury. The scenarios that present themselves in my mind and my reaction to them (uppercut to the nose, an eye gouge, a ball breaking knee to the groin for example) force my state of being into a subdued level of anxiety. Consequently, I am left in a state of rage because my nice peaceful morning walk has been ruined.

Self defence classes liberated me from what I’ve always known –  that, as a woman, I am the ultimate underdog. A female’s life begins with this knowledge – bestowed or otherwise – and it’s trajectory is controlled by it. Armed with this knowledge, women modulate almost every response, consciously or not. Whether it is playground harassment, a teacher’s favour, daddy’s approval, career climbing or simply socialising, a woman must measure a man’s feelings toward her and decide if they are just and that she is secure.

Armed with a taser gun, a dildo, some kick arse moves and best of all, no guilt, Salander (ie. all of us) can assuage our rage and exact revenge. And it feels fucking awesome.

Angry, aggressive women are generally demeaned, ridiculed or treated with horror and disgust. Bjork’s airport ‘incident’ is described on YouTube as a “Classic scene where singer Bjork goes insane and strikes and attacks a reporter in the airport.”  Women are taught to be forgiving, not to seek revenge and to let the (paternalistic) law exact retribution. Lisbeth Salander says ‘Fuck That’ and takes back her feminine power. And we ride with her on some bastard’s Harley with near ecstatic relish.

That’s why I support Slutwalk.

– Michelle

Posted in Support

Questions for the SlutWalk team

The team at SlutWalk Melbourne often get asked a variety of questions about why we’re involved with the movement. These questions can range from “why is it called SlutWalk?”, through to “what do you hope to achieve by marching down a main street in Melbourne?”. We thought we’d take the time to tackle some of these questions in a series of blog posts, with responses from a range of different team members.

What does SlutWalk mean in a particularly Australian sense?

SlutWalk MelbourneKat – For me, it really hits home in terms of the drinking culture. Periodically we’ll get these articles that essentially say ‘I’m not slut-shaming you, but maybe you shouldn’t have drank as much’, which is so backwards. We never tell men to curb their alcohol intake, but women are told to be constantly vigilant. Obviously I’m not saying binge drinking is cool. Instead that, if you’re the kind of guy who looses sight of boundaries after a few drinks, you’re the one who should put the beer down. 


Where does SlutWalk fit in with rape culture? Is the issue of rape culture coming to the fore a little more, and if so, how does the event educate people further?

Hayley – Rape culture refers to not just the act of sexual violence itself, but the underlying SS and VB beliefs and attitudes that enable and legitimate sexual violence at such an alarming rate in our society. I believe SlutWalk has successfully opened up space in our broader culture for these issues to be discussed together, and I think it is necessary to discuss them together. It was likely through SlutWalk or related coverage/discussions that many people first heard certain attitudes and behaviours labelled as ‘victim-blaming’ or ‘slut-shaming’, when they may have previously seemed common-sense, mundane or harmless. SlutWalk teaches us that these attitudes aren’t benign at all and hopefully, this knowledge gives people the tools and the confidence to call out and challenge VB and SS when they witness it – whether on the street, in the media, on the internet, or from someone they know and love.


What has been your experience of the event?

SlutWalk MelbourneJessamy – Having been a consistent attendee at SW since its inception, I can reel off almost endless cliches that can describe my experience (chief amongst these are words like “uplifting” and “inspiring”). But the truth is, the experience of being in amongst a SW march is like nothing I’ve felt before. Being surrounded by like-minded determined people who are shouting and yelling to draw awareness to an issue was something truly special for me. It was the first time I realised that I was (to use another cliched word) “empowered”. I was powerful, and I could make a difference. My presence in that march added to other people’s presence; my voice added to other voices; my support added to other people’s support. I felt that I could help make a difference – and that’s why I keep coming back.

What message do you think SlutWalk sends to Australian women who believe they don’t need feminism?

Fury – Let’s start off making a distinction here. Your phrasing is very specific and I think this needs to be addressed. Feminism isn’t about being self serving.

I say this as a white person who recognises that particularly in Feminist circles, white, cis women seem to feel entitled to dominate and dictate conversations that focus on their own agendas. That’s just not cutting it.

There will be no movement to dismantling it if Feminism stays racist, classist, ableist, cissexist etc. We will just be perpetuating the very thing that we are trying to dismantle.

So what message do I think SlutWalk sends to Australian women who believe they don’t need feminism? Nothing, probably.

I would love to think that people who think Feminism isn’t needed in the world sees this march and thinks “oh wow – look at those liberated babes reclaiming their bodies, the streets, their voices” but if they see us marching they’re probably just going the be hacked off. 

That saying, if a friend or a colleague or someone they respect starts talking about the movement then maybe it will start the ball rolling. That’s definitely something the movement has done. It’s started a touchstone of reference around core issues to do with consent and expectations around women’s behaviour that people, when they’re ready, can start their research.

Posted in Information Tagged with:

Why I support SlutWalk: A story from Lisa Dib

Before we share this important story with you, it’s important to note a trigger warning for the content below – in particular, for rape and assault.

This story was shared with us from Lisa Dib, one of the organisers of the SlutWalk 2014 team. We’d like to thank Lisa for sharing her story with us, and giving us permission to publish it on our page.

Although the bulk of my youth has faded into the memory ether (it wasn’t that long ago, I just have a rubbish memory), I recall that night with a clarity that only regretful replay and anxiety can conjure.

At one point in my life, much like many other women, I took out my teenage rage and boredom on my own body, by filling it to the brim with noxious booze and loud music. It was these days that I look back on with a cringe: doing all-nighters and jumping on the first train home in the morning; walking home in a t-shirt because I had spent my “cloaking a jacket” money on bourbon and coke; wandering in an intoxicated haze around nightclubs, trying to talk to people but usually just dancing on my own or watching the hazy, pulsating crowd. These were nights that I don’t necessarily look back on with fondness (especially when I imagine how annoying I must have been on the train ride into the city: drunk on Passion Pop and singing Good Charlotte) but a neutral embarrassment. I hadn’t ever driven drunk, or wandered into traffic, or given out my credit card details. Fairly harmless.

One night (or, rather, one morning) a friend- who will be called Anne for the purposes of this tale- and I made our way back to her house to sleep off the night’s partying. As we made our way onto the train and out to the wide-open suburbs, we somehow took on some stowaways. Two young men, around our age (that, is 19-21), had joined us for the ride home. I was briefly calmed by the fact that Anne said she knew one of them, though I am still, years later, wondering if that was true.

As we made the cold walk from the train station to Anne’s house, the boys lingered. They chatted amicably; I was too tired even to acknowledge them. It took every inch of my being to drag my sore feet and throbbing head through the streets. Sleep, I thought, I bloody cannot wait. Finally, home; the four of us went upstairs and made some banal conversation I cannot remember. I do, though, recall wishing the boys would leave, or at least sleep downstairs. Why had they come with us, I thought, eyeing them critically but exhaustedly. To my surprise, Anne disappeared into another room with one of the guys. The other made laughing mention of, ahem, “gobbies” (his use could be the root behind my bile-raising distaste for the term) and I ignored him. I said something about my desperate need for sleep and fell into bed without even taking off my belt or shoes.

By the grace of some brilliant timing, I awoke god-knows-how-long later to find that, not only was my bed-mate still beside me, but I could feel his hands working awkwardly to get my jeans off. Several things worked in my favour here: the tightness of my jeans (glorious stovepipes), my facing away from him at the time and his pitiful stupidity (he hadn’t bothered to undo the buttons.) I sat bolt upright, the way they do in movies after a nightmare, and asked him what he was doing. He smiled some goofy grin and muttered something inconsequential. He groaned as I leapt from the bed and went downstairs, taking them two at a time.

I sat in the cold, sunny lounge room with a glass of water until my heart stopped beating so damn fast; I wasn’t sure whether to tell Anne; she became a former friend for a reason, since her constant bullying of my timid, awkward demeanour since early high school had left me resentful of her and, though we were technically friends, I was afraid she would brush off my worry and fear with her usual brashness.

I waited for the others and, for reasons unknown to me still, climbed into the car with the two men. Anne was driving; she was babysitting and wanted me to keep her company. We got McDonalds and my bed-mate had neglected to give me the sachet of syrup from the bag, and I didn’t want to request it. The dudes sat in the back and guffawed; I forget where we let them out.

If you need to access support right now you can call the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) on the after hours Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) 1800 806 292 or you can email SACL at ahcasa@thewomens.org.au

Posted in Support Tagged with: , , ,