As you probably already know, SlutWalk has caused controversy. While some people are upset about the name, I’m boycotting for other reasons. The lesser-known controversies of SlutWalk lie in, what is ultimately feminist apologia manifested in really problematic and dangerous ways.
The focus on men and police officers at protests, because they’re oh so underrepresented, is only the tip of the iceberg. Inviting police is effectively uninviting many more important participants.
More frustrating, is the SlutWalk in my own town, Spokane. Spokane’s SlutWalk really raises the bar in terms of controversy and discrimination.
Our organizers are working dangerously close to the police, going so far as to invite off duty officers (friends of the main organizer, she says) to “protect” demonstrators, without intimidating them.
After a lot of arguing, (and throwing a fit all over my personal Facebook page) she finally agreed to announce the presence of her own secret police on the SlutWalk Spokane Facebook event page. She says, “I would rather have you not come if you are uncomfortable than risk your lives by not having anyone there who can deal with emergencies. Peacekeepers will be there but they aren’t cops, neither are advocates from LCS or martial artists. I will also not tell people they can’t come because of their career.” Who wants to count all the things that are wrong with this? I’ll start.
1. The risk factor doesn’t change with the presence of plain-clothes cops because there are going to be on-duty, in-uniform officers present as a result of permitting the event.
2. This effectively uninvites anyone on the illegal side of the adult industry and anyone with a problematic immigration status.
3. Acknowledging this in the comments on the event page was a tokeny move. It got drowned out pretty quickly in a sea of a billion comments from all over the country.
And that wasn’t even the entire comment.
Since the event is for the (potential) survivors and victims of sexual violence, probably, it’s more in line with the goals of SlutWalk to invite them and exclude the police. The reason organizers gave before was that a friend of the organizer who made this wonderfully legible and insightful comment, was raped and had a wonderful experience with the police working so hard to help her.
This gets worse though! As if the racism (and hasty dismissal of accusations of racism, a story worthy of its own blog) wasn’t bad enough, they talk about sex workers too.
The fit on my Facebook started when I asked whether any groups of sex workers were invited to represent themselves. The response, “No. None of the women in Sprague have been interested in talking to me,” is only wildly offensive. The entire comment is too much for me to deal with, even without a word limit. If you’re not from this area, Sprague is a main street that is notorious for the prostitutes who work there.
The first time I met organizers was at an interview with the Inlander. Then too, they kept referring to sex workers as “the women on Sprague” and saying that this event is “not for [the women on Sprague] but, for us too.”
Now this most eloquent organizer is upset because I was originally planning on speaking on behalf of one of my professors in an attempt to address the racism of SlutWalk. Now I’m not going at all and she can’t seem to understand why. Besides the fact that I have seen/experienced law enforcement at its worst, I’m not a citizen, I’m not comfortable around police, and I’m not ok with silencing, dehumanizing, downplaying the experiences of wimmin of color and sex workers, (especially because police officers need representation?) if I have to remedy the racism that I pointed out, with no help or support from organizers, that is tokenism at its worst.
So, SlutWalk Spokane organizers, here is my public revocation of support for your event. If for no other reason, than that fact. It is YOUR event and you have made that crystal clear.