Slut Walk Manchester

Last night I did Manchester’s slutwalk along with hundreds of people of all ages, backgrounds and genders including at least one tiny child and many very cute little dogs that made getting all fired up hard in the face of another cute wiggly nosed ”slut pup” as my friend called them (extra points would have been given to the owners if they had put their dogs in slut attire, this wish of mine probably indicates I shouldn’t have a dog…) there were men, and young girls with ‘SLUT’ lipsticked across their head, or chest many in bras and pants and fishnets (including the boys) one of whom I saw clutching the detached sole of her boot by the marches end and one perfectly executed cross dressing Margaret Thatcher suited and pearled.

It was I have to say thrilling to walk in this huge cohort of such varied feminists (and socialists, Ken Clarke having made his recent faux pas Slutwalk was awash with them, which can only be good thing) most of it down the middle of main streets, from the Town Hall along Deansgate, up Sinclair’s Oyster Bar where people in the smoking area all stood agape, I heard little negative commentary, and saw nothing being thrown, which surprised me. By the Wheel and at various points the police halted the march, there was a van and a police and community officers present. I saw no one being attacked by the police although I heard someone later claim otherwise. I was, being unused to marches even of this scale, panicky about the police, I was thinking ”what could they arrest us for?” the handout provided by march organisers pointed out they felt arrests would be unlikely but provided helpful advice if this should occur.

The walk continued up through the northern quarter to Piccadilly Gardens, past the Canal Street coming to rest at Harry’s bar on the ex UMIST campus. I saw many people waving and hanging out of windows taking pictures and groups of women and men cheering along the way. The atmosphere was jovial. There were plenty of chants and drums and whistles, my favourite still being ”this is what a feminist looks like” mostly because of its inclusivity. Many carried socialist banners relating to Ken Clarke but there were some witty homemade ones: ”Buffy wouldn’t Stand For This”, ”Police Rapists, Not My Wardrobe” etc.  This event was in sharp contrast to the Reclaim The Night march I went on where dozens of on lookers shouted ”get back in the kitchen”, I am sure I was not alone that time in feeling harassed and sad. However I think there was definitely a buffer effect with walking with so many people united for one cause, all those lovely strong voices could well have been drowning out the negative responses.

People were in outfits ranging to scanty pvc to jeans and t shirt. Some were cynical on the march and said to look out because the media would only be photographing those who were scantily clad, from some of the news coverage I have seen this appears to be on the money. I met a girl who at the March’s end (Harry’s Bar on the ex UMIST campus) was wearing lacy lingerie and not much else and was cold and somewhat embarassed as she was one of the few flashing the flesh, she also sadly was hassled by a couple of missing toothed chancers who drunkenly had no idea what was going on and had infiltrated the march to harass young women. Which brings me to the problematic aspects of slutwalk. I think the young lady in the lacy lingerie wasn’t alone, there were many fabulous proud people in various states of undress, some of whom are on the photos on various news outlets who clearly know their way around a corset and have no qualms wearing one in public, however, this young lady felt she had to ”slut it up” for the march so to speak and ended up feeling harassed embarassed and cold.

As it happens I came straight from a rehearsal for my Sunday performance at parklife (shameless plug) and as it happens was wearing a knee lengthish leather skirt, knee high socks, a t shirt with a neon vampire mouth, pink and black converse, my usual thick eyeliner, some shocking pink lipstick and my oversized biker style denim jacket. As previously mentioned on here I have been and continue to be harassed on the street, and as I said then it didn’t matter what I was wearing what time of day it was and how many people are about if you look like you have a vagina it happens. However the point I am trying to make I  is that yes it was great that all the people who felt comfortable in skimpy outfits did so however you can I believe be called a slut or feel like you are being judged for almost anything. Examples off the top of my head include: short skirts, high heels, make up, bra showing, ankles showing, tight jeans, taking the contraceptive pill in public, buying contraceptives, asking for sex when you want it, eating an ice cream, being or presenting as female. As I say the list of things for which you can be called a slut by a man or by women also who happen to be buying into the whole idea of policing other women’s bodies and actions is sadly endless, and that means that if you yourself are attending a slut walk, do it in whatever you are comfortable wearing. It was a long walk and Manchester weather is changeable, if stilletos flick your switch go ahead and wear them but doc martens are excellent too.

There is one final point to be made, which many people brought up. Why use the word slut? Some believed that certain older feminists and religious feminists would be put off. Many simply just don’t like the word, as some fantastic graffiti I read in Fuel Cafe (its a great place for feminist graffiti) opined ”slut is just a word men use to stop women achieving equal sexual liberty” and of course that is true. But, if women can be called a slut any time for doing anything by anyone as I also believe is true, surely making some inroads into pointing out the ridiculousness of the word and promoting the fact that calling a woman a slut does not make sexual abuse deserved is a good thing?

Slutwalk is in itself I feel is setting out with similar aims to Reclaim the Night, however this is a brand new event, a modern one, perpetuated by social media, if it has caught the attention of the media and so many young feminists I have to think this is a good thing. I accept the name and some ideas surrounding it are problematic, but that comes with any part of feminism, the old lie sisterhood is powerful failed simply because of the simple truth that not all feminists hold the same beliefs and have the same aims.

At the end of the event and after talking to so many wonderful feminists, I am glad I attended Slutwalk.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/slutwalks?INTCMP=SRCH

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-13734337

http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1423405_hundreds-join-slut-walk-protest-through-manchester

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13436429

I will be performing around 2.50pmish at Parklife in the Busking tent on Sunday.

Advertisements
About

The Stirred quad is formed of Rebecca Audra Smith, Anna Percy, Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Events, Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Stirred team at Reclaim the Night Manchester 2015
Recently blogged:
%d bloggers like this: