So tomorrow is Slutwalk. You’ve probably heard of it, but click here for some of the background if you need.
I’m most interested in the name, as this is the bit that has caused most of the controversy, as Roly Sussex describes here (scroll to the bottom of the article). “Slut” is a term that is bound to offend some people, although they are the people who probably need to be offended.
I take more seriously the complaint by feminists and others that it is a derogatory, misogynist word that should not be promoted, even in opposition to the views it betrays. I disagree. There is a long history of derogatory terms being recuperated by disparaged groups: “gay,” “queer” and “nigger” are the obvious ones, but “methodist” was originally a pejorative term for Wesleyans who took the epithet gladly. When I was at school, no one wanted to be called a geek. That said, I’m still not going to use the word, any more than it’s appropriate for me to use the n-word (see Roly’s comments).
There is no doubt going to be a lot more debate about this movement and its title, and I welcome that, because it will bring a lot of attention to opinions that are easy to hold when the underlying issues are ignored; hard to hold when they are exposed. And the really disturbing thing that tends to go largely unremarked is this: What is the male-equivalent term for “slut”?
That’s right. There isn’t one…