Leslie Cannold

SlutWalk Melbourne 2011: Leslie Cannold

Leslie CannoldDr Leslie Cannold is an author, columnist, ethicist and researcher. In 2005 she was noted as one of Australia’s top 20 public intellectuals and in 2011 she was made Australian Humanist of the Year. Leslie’s latest book and first novel is The Book of Rachael.

Transcript of SlutWalk Melbourne Speech (28 May 2011):

Hey all you sluts!

As a writer, it seems obvious to me that words matter. Words matter to every woman and man at this rally. They matter so much that we won’t stand for one – the same one – being slung at us over and over again to demean and degrade us. The word slut dates back to the middle ages. Those who throw it at us are trying to take us back to the Middle Ages. A time when women were what men said they could be. A time when a woman’s virtue – her worth as a person, was judged by how she looked and with whom and how often she had sex.

The word slut says that women deserve to be raped or molested or bashed:

  • If we like sex
  • Or have had sex before or with “too many” people
  • Or dress in ways that others judge sexy or skimpy
  • Or go to places at night – or even during the day – to have fun

Before I wrote my novel The Book of Rachael, I was a social researcher. As a social researcher I can tell you that there has been very little change to the way the word SLUT is used by boys and men and even apologist women – HISS – to put women down.

What those who use the word SLUT mean is always the same. What they mean is that good, moral, virtuous, women – women worthy of respect:

  • Don’t like sex
  • Are virgins, or only sleep with their husbands
  • Dress conservatively
  • Don’t go out during the day or night (and so never) have fun

Well I say BUGGER THAT! I say that words matter and that the women and men of Melbourne have decided to grasp the activist baton some older feminists wrongly say they aren’t interested in and to do something new and clever so they can be heard.

Today, we aren’t marching to TAKE BACK THE NIGHT any more. Today what we are doing is TAKING BACK the word slut. By RECLAIMING the word slut we DISEMPOWER IT. Gays have reclaimed the word Queer, and good on them. Today the women and men of Melbourne are reclaiming the word SLUT.

So today, we stand together as sluts to proudly state that:

  • We like sex
  • We may like sex with more than one person
  • We have a right to dress how we want and
  • To go where we want and to have a drink there and a bit of fun.

We say that in 21st century Australia we are entitled to do all of these things, and not DESERVE TO BE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE.

So thanks for coming today to walk, roll, holler and stomp to demand a society that can tell the difference between a modern day woman and a rapist, and knows which one to judge. Today we, the women of Melbourne and the beautiful men who’ve come out to join us, are claiming the power to name.

Make way Melbourne, HERE COME THE SLUTS!

– Leslie Cannold, 2011