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Why I Took My Sons To A SlutWalk

Why I Took My Sons To A SlutWalk


On Saturday, I took my sons Joey (12) and Ben (10) to Cape Town’s first ever SlutWalk.

In case you haven’t heard about them, SlutWalk protest marches were started in Canada earlier this year in response to a Toronto Police officer’s pronouncement that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” in order not to be raped. They have since become a global phenomenon.

I’ll be honest, the boys didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity and would happily have spent the rest of the day playing their computer game, but after we talked about it for a bit, they agreed to come along. I felt it was important for them to experience a SlutWalk because it might help them to understand:

• that women have the right to wear whatever they want – however “suggestive,” “revealing” or “provocative” it may be – without fear of being raped;

• that rape and violence against women are huge problems in South Africa and in every other country around the world, and that almost without exception the perpetrators are men;

• that derogatory words like slut derive their power from the social context in which they are used, depending on who uses them with reference to whom and with what intention, and that such words can be reclaimed, defused and subverted by the very people they are meant to hurt;

• that, while even at their young age they are constantly being bombarded with stereotyped, hyper-sexualised and misogynistic images of girls and women in various media from TV programs and music videos to magazines and computer games, real women are much more interesting and diverse;

• that solidarity is a powerful weapon and that men have an important role to play in supporting women in their struggle to live their lives the way they want to live them;

• that learning about feminist history from books is great, but that being an active part of it is even more exciting;

• that there is power in numbers and that when one person complains about an injustice it’s just their personal opinion, but when many do so together it becomes a political force that can bring about positive change;

• that politics doesn’t have to be something that only happens every four or five years (like voting) or something that they, as children, are excluded from (like voting).

So on a gorgeous winter’s day we joined a throng of perhaps 2,000 people, dressed in everything from burqas and casual street wear to…well, not very much at all, on a protest walk through the streets of our home town. The chants included old favorites like “Real men don’t rape” and “No means no,” as well as ones I hadn’t heard before, like “It’s a dress, not a yes”, “None of us are asking for it” and “It’s Cape Town, not Rape Town.”

I took my sons to a SlutWalk for their sake. Although they are still children now, they’ll soon be young men who will constantly face important personal choices in a deeply patriarchal society that routinely ignores, undervalues, demeans and brutalizes its female citizens. And I took them for my own sake, as their father who’s partially responsible for bringing them into this world and who hopes that the choices they’ll end up making as adults will contribute to bringing these injustices to an end.

When we got home, the boys went straight back to their computer game. And that’s as it should be. Playing is an important part of their everyday life. I hope that by taking them to events like the SlutWalk, the idea that women have the same rights to equality, freedom and safety as men will also become a part of their everyday consciousness.

Andreas is a book shop manager and freelance writer in Cape Town, South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath

Related Stories:

Students March to Protest Stereotyping Rape Victims

Police Officer Advises Women to Avoid Sexual Assault By Not Dressing Like a “Slut”

SlutWalk Movement Reaches New Delhi

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6:59AM PDT on May 19, 2013

What a confusing title... "Slutwalk." I don't hold out much hope for a "movement' where woman begin by calling themselves "sluts" while parading down a street... (no matter the business about reclaiming the word.) The word is WOMEN, not sluts... grow up and be taken seriously. This method does nothing to discourage or educate against rape. Rape is a violent offense committed by a man who feels powerless and the need to dominate and is not a sexual offense. When society finally begins to understand what causes rape, it may be possible to do something about actually stopping it.

In addition, on another subject found here:

"When we got home, the boys went straight back to their computer game. And that’s as it should be."

Nah... not how it "should be" at all.

7:23PM PDT on May 16, 2013

Good story, very stupid policeman - his comment was even worse. Much like the comments from other readers, some are very thoughtful and some are just plain ignorant and stupid.

9:12AM PDT on May 16, 2013

James W.: this writer explained that she talked to her sons first about the event she invited them to. It was their choice. And I applaud this woman...and her sons...for taking that walk.

8:52AM PDT on May 16, 2013

Grow up

9:21AM PDT on May 14, 2013

I'm appalled that 72% of voters would take a ten year old boy to a slut walk. Where do you oh-so-sensitive feminists draw the line for indoctrinating boys with sex? This is very close to sexual abuse. Would these same women take their 10 year old girl to a slut walk to teach her it's her right to dress anyway she wants?

Video games make great babysitters. At least they won't molest the boys like this mother did emotionally.

2:42PM PST on Jan 8, 2012

that is amazing!

3:31PM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

good for you! i don't have children but I would take them to a slutwalk.

7:40AM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Thank goodness woman don't walk around naked here, like they do in other countries!
A man rapes for he feels powerless and that's the only way he can get power in his own sick mind!

5:06PM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

You took two male children to a slut walk? Be prepared to take them to a therapist when they get older.

7:48PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

Perhaps calling the event Slut Walk was not the best introduction to what it truly represents, but it does grab one's attention. I agree with HM B, the irony does not work, and it translates poorly. Rape is a crime of degradation. It is intended to force a woman, or man, to be humiliated by being internally violated, externally over powered, emotionally devastated, physically abused, and psychologically traumatized..... for the remainder of their lives.

There will always be excuses for why it was OK to styles, hair style, 'provocative' glances, sexy legs, the way someone eats a cookie, the color purple, the scent of bleach, on and on...the point being rape is rape. There are no excuses for violating another person's orifices, and/or general body areas. It is a crime, it is a violation, it is wrong.

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