SlutWalk Toronto took just six weeks to organize, and now a dozen protests are planned worldwide. Is the Middle East next on the slut map?
Without exception, every major human rights organization, from Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, and World Pulse to the Association for Women’s Rights in Development point to the clear connection between women’s rights and the advancement of sustainable, safe and successful civilization. The International Women’s Health Coalition’s stance is unequivocal on this.
“The right of women to control their sexuality—the basis for sexual rights—is an indivisible part of their human rights, and that without it, women cannot fully realize their other human rights. This notion has been reaffirmed at several subsequent international meetings, but in practice, few countries’ laws and policies provide women with effective protection against coercion, discrimination, and violence, and fundamentalist states and movements all over the world consistently target women’s sexual and reproductive autonomy.”
While exact numbers are hard to come by, untold numbers of women and girls in the Middle East living under totalitarian regimes encounter rape, virginity tests, domestic abuse, honor killings, mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence on a regular basis. Efforts from within their respective countries, and from abroad, are aimed at alleviating these injustices. How far does that envelop have to be pushed in order to create real and abiding change? Because what’s good for women is clearly good for Mother Earth.
Rebalancing the power dynanics between men and women is essential for this to occur. Nicholas D. Kristof, renowned New York Times Op-Ed columnist and co-author with Sheryl WuDunn of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009), declared that, “greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism. Now it is emerging that male domination of society is also a risk factor; the reasons aren’t fully understood, but it may be that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden culture of a military camp or a high-school boys’ locker room.”
With this said, one has to wonder if what the region really needs is more sluts. Yes, you read that right.
A Political Slut-Explosion?
Sex-positive environmentalists, an eco-sexy and activist-prone crowd, might think so, once they get passed that shocking charge. Soul sisters around the globe with green fists can take their cues from the radical actions of Toronto’s grass action movement, SlutWalk.
SlutWalk formed early in 2011 in response to a policeman’s slur used to blame a female victim for her assault earlier this year. Outraged by his comments, an estimated 1500-3000 joined the march, including a noticeable minority of men.
They write: “Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.”
“We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence.”
Theirs is not the first effort to reframe the meaning of ‘Slut.’ That goes to Dossie Easton, whose groundbreaking book, The Ethical Slut (1997), drafted a new narrative for this centuries-old moniker.
“A slut is a person who has taken control of their sexuality and has sex with whomever they choose, regardless of religious or social pressures or conventions to conform to a straight-laced monogamous lifestyle committed to one partner for life. The term has been “taken back” to express the rejection of the concept that government, society, or religion may judge or control one’s personal liberties, and the right to control one’s own sexuality.” (source)
Men were a noticeable minority supporting Toronto’s SlutWalk on April 3, 2011.
When Females Rule Fornication, Mother Earth Delights. Creating an environmentally sustainable world, without question, requires the emancipation of women. Robert Engelman, author of More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want (Island Books, 2007), expanding the capacity of all women to choose when to bear children is the surest route to achieving an environmentally sustainable population.
In an interview with WorldWatch Institute, Engelman argues that in societies where women’s rights are equal to men’s, women take control of their own fertility and invariably have two or fewer children, on average. “Such low fertility rates then lead to a gradual decline in population in the absence of net immigration.”
“It makes sense that those who bear children and do most of the work in raising them should have the final say in when, and when not, to do so. By making their own decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their children, women ultimately bring about a global good that governments could never deliver through regulation or control: a population in balance with nature’s resources.”
Bottom line: female sexual sovereignty will lead to improved environmental and economic conditions for all. Studies demonstrate that when women are empowered with regards to their reproductive rights, they don’t choose more children: They choose MORE for the children they have. Better education, nutrition, opportunity and safety are natural artifacts of women deciding their sexual fates.
Support and international media coverage for SlutWalk have been intense with many additional protests planned throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, including the next on April 9, 2011 in New York.
Reframing the narrative and the language used to oppress women is a drastic measure to be sure; but in a region where women’s sexuality is politicized and commodicized by heavy hands, it may just take a massive SlutWalk in the streets of Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Tel Aviv for that deciding tidal waves of environmental, political and social change to sweep the Middle East.
Then again, the successful emancipation of women will require more than a revision of this slur; more than anything, the men and leaders in this region must no longer evaluate a women by her sexuality (chastity, virginity, etc.), but by the contents of her mind, convictions of her heart, and behaviors beyond the bedroom that make this world a greener, safer, more sustainable place for us all.
Read more eco-sex news:
Egyptian Women Forced to Take ‘Virginity’ Tests During Protest, Amnesty International
US Senator Olympia Snowe Leads Women in Renewed Call for Women’s Rights in the Middle East
When Females Rule Fornication, Mother Earth Delights