Monday, 20 June 2011

Birmingham SlutCamp

We weren't able to get permission to walk, in the end, as the streets we planned to use were full of stalls for the international food fare.  So, instead, we set up camp in Centenary Square, spoke to a few people who were curious, and listened to some great speeches.

This is what I originally planned to wear;

Only 8% of rapes are commited by strangers.
These are not crimes of lust, or opportunity.
The objective is not sex, it is pain and violation.
There are a million ways to be sexy.
None of them will turn you into a rapist.
Not even this one.

...and here is what I actually wore.

I was going to dress up for this...
...then I remembered that most women are raped in their own homes, by their husbands or partners.
Is it because they looked slutty?

I changed because I felt that my pyjamas said what I wanted to say more effectively.  My logic is, if I were attacked, this is what I would be wearing (only not really, because those are so warm that I'd wake up sweating).  They gathered just as much attention, and they got people to read the sign, and, hopefully, to think about the point it made.  That said, I was very envious of how good everyone else looked!  On the other hand, I was lovely and warm, right up until it rained, and that corset doesn't really fit any more anyway.  Swings and roundabouts.

One of the organisers, Sara Jane Russell, who is also a member of my feminist group, had written a speech,  She asked me to read it for her, since my pyjamas were getting so much attention, and because she was so busy behind the scenes.  It was not the most elegant moment of my life - one hand on my sign, the other hand tightly gripping the speech while the wind tried to steal it, hair over my face - but the speech was excellent, and I was very proud to read it.  We had a number of other speakers, including a teenage girl, a lady with a transgendered history, Barbara Nice, Salma Yaqoob, and a few others.  Barbara Nice actually pointed out my pyjamas, and read my sign out to the group, which was quite cool.  I didn't manage to take any pictures myself (that one above was taken by another person who took part!), and I didn't manage to note down all the speakers either, unfortunately.  The Birmingham Mail have a report on the event, but they didn't write them all down either.

We got a lot of support from the members of the public who stopped by, though I am noticing less support for SlutWalks in general from the media.  Quite apart from the people who believe that we're protesting the right thing, but going the wrong way about it, other people seem split between "This is ridiculous, it's obvious that women aren't raped because of what they wear, why make such a fuss?", and "This is ridiculous, it was just good advice".  It's a shame we can't pit that first group against the second, really.  They just seem to be invisible to one another, and it's very tiring, facing both.

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