SlutWalkDelhi

The Slut Walk comes to Delhi, what does it mean for Delhiites?

Update: 31st July 2011

The walk had postponed, and was scheduled to happen today. I have so far not recieved any confirmation whether it did happen or not, also didn’t see any photos or any reports online. I will keep updating this space with more info.

Twitter is my central portal for information related to the city, country and world and Facebook is the place for updates on real life friends. Couple of days back I noticed a certain hashtag #slutwalk was trending on Twitter. In no time my Facebook friends started sending me invitations to a certain event Slut Walk Delhi. And then IBN Live reported that on 25th June 2011 Delhi will see its ‘first ever’ slut walk.

When you hear the words ‘first ever’ you perhaps assume that it is something that has been there for a long time and only now Delhi will see its ‘first ever’. But that’s not the case. Slut Walk is a brand new movement that started in Toronto, Canada in April 2011 and have since then spread to various other western cities like, London, Melbourne, Brisbane, Montreal, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Hamilton, San Diego and Vancouver to name a few. Delhi is the first Asian city to follow suit.

Now what does a slut walk in Delhi mean?

‘Slut’ – the word entered Indian people’s vocabulary through international movies and TV series as part of the cultural change that took place post the cable TV. The exact dictionary meaning of the word is unknown and irrelevant to most Indians but the most common meaning is ‘a woman who is ‘easy.’ While there is no doubt that the word is an abuse the ‘abuse quotient’ is not clear. For one, it was rather surprising for me to see the characters of the popular TV series FRIENDS using the word quite frequently in their conversations, although the series had a clean language policy and had never used the F word or middle finger.

Every word has a different meaning in different culture. So I am curious what does the word slut mean in the Indian context? Consequently what does a slut walk mean?To begin with the word is not in common use. Surely we have a parallel Hindi abuse word, Randi  and the other commonly used abuses are C word, MC/BC words, DK Bose word but through my growing days till now I have rarely heard the word slut in any context. I believe ‘slut’ as an abuse is a recent entry and is mostly in use amongst the upper class English speaking urban youth.

The original Slut Walk aims at reclaiming the word ‘slut.’ A reclaimed word is a word which has been historically used as an abuse but is brought back into acceptable usage by the same group who were abused by that word. For example, historically homosexuals were abusively referred to as ‘queer’ which literally means ‘strange’ but the gay rights activist started using the word to describe themselves in their political conversations and have since then taken pride in that word. They reclaimed the word as their own stripping it off the abusive connotations.

The original posting (now removed) on the info section of the Delhi slut walk mentioned “SlutWalk Delhi 2011 is an attempt to reclaim the word Slut, to remove the shame, to replace it with pride!

This reclamation of the word ‘slut’ is important in the context where women are constantly shamed, judged and attacked by this word. But it is irrelevant in a city where woman get raped and killed with or without the label of slut or even randi for that matter. To quote a few lines from the slut walk Toronto website which speaks of how and why the slut walk started

On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police gave shocking insight into the Force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

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.

Clearly, the word slut does not have the same historical presence as above in the Indian vocabulary. We never used the word ‘slut’ in the same way, so what are we reclaiming? Who are we reclaiming it from? Why do we have to reclaim it when most people in Delhi do not even know what it means? And if the point of the event is only to say that we never asked for it, then you don’t have to call it Slut Walk just because that phrase sparked interests in other countries.

The idea of a ‘slut walk’ has good intentions behind it but sadly it is a flash campaign without a context.

When these flash campaigns are floated or adopted nobody thinks through the entire process of executing the campaign. Questions like, who are we addressing through the campaign, what is it that we are trying to change, who are the change partners, what language do they speak are seldom considered. What becomes more important is how quickly can we spread the word, gather crowd, gain popularity, how many people Liked the campaign’s Facebook page, how many followers on Twitter, the poster, the logo, the t-shirt and the ‘awesomeness.’ The campaign becomes bigger than the cause itself.  It becomes a fun day out for the participants who would come in their loudest dresses, makeups and fancy props; becomes a field day for the photographers and film makers and a street spectacle for the public. In the end the campaign fades out leaving the public often unmoved and sometimes confused.

I am afraid that is the exact fate of the ‘slut walk’ in Delhi. With the noise around it on social media and with mainstream media picking it up as the next cool youth led campaign since ‘Pink Chaddi,’ an average Delhi man, who is the habitual ogler and groper on the DTC buses and have never heard of ‘slut walk’ before, would in his curiosity, look it up on Google. This is what he is likely to find:

google slut walk

And If he, in his even more curiosity, looks it up in Google Image Search he would find jaw dropping images such as these:

google slut walk imagesThe man would then be excited with the idea and would look forward to the event. On the specified date if he happens to be at the spot where the slut walk is being held he would ogle some more at the participants and once the show would be over he would go back home in a DTC bus rubbing his erected dick onto the shoulders of some girl sitting on the ladies seat in front of him and pushing it against the butt of another girl standing in front of him at the exit door.

These girls would not be participants of the slut walk and they would not be able to save themselves from the harassment. These girls by all means would also not want to ‘reclaim’ the word ‘slut.’ Women of my mother’s age are routinely harassed, ogled at and groped by men in public spaces. These women neither know the word nor do they want to reclaim it.

I have all my empathy for the young people who presumed that just because a new movement is gaining popularity in the US, UK and Australia, the same is required to be adopted in India in exactly the same fashion, but I have to say that it is a misplaced campaign with a good intention.

Sometimes we become victims of euro-centrism, we assume that whatever the west does is good for us and we must adopt it. The wikipedia entry for Slut Walk says its an ‘international movement.’ So far it has been held in just a handful of cities and is already claimed to be an international movement. And we must adopt it in order to be part of something ‘international.’ It is not wrong to adopt a movement that started in a different country but sometimes there is a need to contextualize it.

The Slut Walk happened in Canada because  a cop there made a speech in which he justified sexual violence against women by calling them slut. In India, few months back a movie was released which had a line,

“tawaaif ki loot ti izzat bachana aur tees maar khan to kaid karna dono bekaar hai”

Attempts to save the modesty of a prostitute being raped and to try to arrest tees maar khan, both are useless. [see video]

Perhaps we needed a ‘tawaaif walk’ back then. We still need one. But a ‘slut walk’ we just don’t need.

Comparison with other campaigns

Since its announcement some people have compared ‘slut walk’ with another campaign also addressing the issues of street harassment and sexual violence against women, the Blank Noise Project. In my opinion the two are not the same and in fact cannot even be compared. Blank Noise Project is a more meaningful campaign that started out by some girls and women sharing their real life stories of how they have faced street harassment at one time or the other. It inspired women to lose their inhibitions and speak up against street harassment or eve-teasing and many women who shared their stories felt empowered. The project then organized a walk where they asked girls and women to show up in a dress in which they had faced eve teasing. Several turned up in ‘decent’ clothing such as salwar suit or saree. The idea was that no matter what the dress was every woman had faced eve-teasing at one point or the other.

Blank Noise Project started with a blog and gradually became a national movement

Another comparison is being drawn between the slut walk and the annual gay pride parade that takes place in Delhi and other cities. Again, the two are not same.

Gay parades are about celebrating identities. The LGBT community come together in bright colors and march to the beats of peppy music carrying amusing banners and posters to celebrate their sexuality in which they take pride. Indian women on the other hand have never identified with the word ‘slut’ and they certainly don’t want to celebrate being one. Because the word is always used, albeit in a niche group, as a form of abuse even by women themselves.

On the question of usage of the word ‘slut’ Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji founder of Joint Women’s Programme, a National Women’s Rights_Organization based in Delhi  said, “the words that have the most significance in the Indian context are Randi, Dayen (witch)  The English word ‘slut’ might have less significance as use of abuses such as Randi and Dayen are rampant and are a part of the language conditioning.” On being asked to share her opinion on the Slut Walk Delhi she seemed to agree with the basic cause of the event. “A woman’s dress can in no way decide a man’s behaviour. It is his  mind and attitude towards women.  If a woman’s dress is criticized for being the cause of a man’s behaviour, and a  dress code is prescribed for women, that is wrong. It is a different matter if a certain dress code is decided for a particular occasion, in which case women should adhere, provided no such dress code is  imposed on women alone. Every woman has the right to dress according to her choice without being subjected to violence and criticism,” she explained. She further opined that even though such an event is less likely to make much of difference there is no harm in organizing the event. “At least public will know girls and women are protesting against inequality,” she said.

When Bangalore based flim maker, Madan Ramvenkatesh was asked if has heard the word slut he said, “it’s a rare word and one only comes across it in Movies.” Regarding the slut walk in Delhi he said, he wasn’t aware of any such thing. But so far as the word slut is concerned he mentioned, “it’s an unhealthy word not much in use in India and so a movement to reclaim it doesn’t make much sense.”

Delhi based photographer Udit Kulshrestha is of the opinion that the word ‘slut’ is often used in India by both men and women and that a movement like Slut Walk Delhi is important to make people aware of the gender equality and dignity. “That we are all equal human beings and not toys for somebody’s sexual appetite,” he exclaimed when asked about his support for the Slut Walk.

Documentary film maker Tarini Manchanda believes the movement has a lot of significance in spirit in so far as the practice of blaming the victim of sexual harassment goes and is curious to see how the movement is contextualized  in Delhi. She said, “The issue of branding women as slut and further victimizing them is the same all across the globe but I wonder how will a slut walk go down with the Indians, will it give the right message or a distorted one?” On the question of whether the word slut is in use in India she said, “only in a small section of young people who are used to watching American Television”

To conclude, Slut Walk is an important event for some cities, in some other cities it has to be introduced after putting it in the right context. The cause behind it is very genuine, but a genuine cause with a misplaced campaign is even worse. I only wish this amount of zeal and enthusiasm were used to strengthen and sustain an already existing campaign rather than floating a new one.

You have got to hit the right nail at the right time and you’ve got to keep hitting it.

26 thoughts on “The Slut Walk comes to Delhi, what does it mean for Delhiites?

  1. Brilliant piece, hits the nail. I live in Melbourne, and the ‘slut’ walk made quite a buzz here. Interesting comparisons with other campaigns too.

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  2. which reminds me of other facebook flash campaigns which might have made no sense in any context, culture or country… the bra-strap color thing, and the where-I-put-my-handbag thing… I am not sure if that helped the causes that they were trying to identify with in any way, except giving a handful of women/girls some sort of gratification that they contributed to something in their otherwise regular life, devoid of any act of philanthropy …
    I too cringe at the unexplainable idea of some men in the NCR region and elsewhere in the country and in the world of getting pleasure out of something as stupid as rubbing their dick on a woman’s shoulder… at the same time I find it equally repulsive as to how some men/women tend to associate the nature of a place and its men on the basis of a generalization…

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  3. exactly … one should ask the question from the participants – will they join the movement still if instead of “slut walk” it’ll be called “randi walk” or “tawaif walk”?

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  4. Interesting, i thought the word was fairly common in India, but overheard a conversation between a young couple in the delhi metro yesterday .

    Girl ” there will a a slutwalk on 25th here”
    Boy ” what is it”
    Girl ” a walk where sluts will walk because they feel sluts should get respect ”

    Boy: ” profession remains that of a slut only no, then how to respect that profession ”

    People have destorted ideas about what the word means and what the movement is really aiming at, in that scenario it might end up giving completely the wrong message than what they intend it to be

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  5. Very nicely written article. However, there are a few things: the focus is not on the word slut, it is on the meaning the word ascribes to people(women and girls) it is used on. Use any hindi equivalent or near equivalent of the word slut, it would still convey the same disrespectful attitude towards a woman/girl who may be simply wearing something she wants to. And just to add, the weakness ascribed to a female is what makes men use those words for a woman, its not really the dressing that matters.

    I agree with you on the point that, for a larger public to understand the meaning of this campaign, the name could be changed and brought into the Indian context, or maybe just the ‘average Delhiite’ context. And i agree that a different name could create the desired impact in our context. However, the movement has been slighted in the conclusion, which was not necessarily warranted or even logically concluded from the analyses of various aspects of this campaign. Shift focus slightly from the word “slut” and there opens the whole issue faced all the time by women in our city only, which, by the way, is far greater than the usage of the word or any word like ‘slut’.

    Delhi certainly requires a matured movement, and this movement is surely on that path. The dress code has been set maturely and the campaign speaks for itself. Your article seems to be misleading some readers to think that all this is complete waste. I ask now, is it a waste to take first steps towards bringing about a paradigm shift in societal mindset of our male dominated society? Is it a waste to begin moving towards a ‘cleaner’ better tomorrow, no matter what name it uses? a place where we can expect cleaner mindsets, as opopsed to the dirty mindsets that abound all around us?

    After all, at the end of the day, after (Say) coming back from office and having been molested, or groped publicly, or having one’s dignity abused once at each bus stop, once (at least ) aboard each bus you board, and once when you are walking back the last leg of your way back home after dark, you yourself feel the ‘dirt’ having pressed itself upon you…. for no fault of yours. The mindsets need to change. Its time.

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  6. Dear Ritu,

    All I am trying to say is that all those things you mentioned in the last para, none of that will change by this campaign simply because of its nomenclature. Change the name to something more suitable and befitting the average Delhiite and that immediately increase the potential of this campaign. Its all about the word, don’t tell me its just a word, words makes all the difference in this campaign. The whole issue is about what names are we called and how that name defines our role, responsibility and behaviour. Indian women are NOT called slut, then how can we even begin the dialog with men on the basis of that word. The very premise is lost.

    Unless the word is changed, this is just a circus. No one would get the point. NO ONE

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  7. I think you bring up something important about harassment and the protesters being vulnerable to it. It is something I have worried about as well. The message is not clear enough. There is absolutely nothing so far in the language of the common man that would differentiate between the challenging of character judgments on the basis of clothes and an invitation to ogle women of all shapes and sizes. I think this has worried others too and its important.

    Agree on the use of the word slut as well. More appropriate would be “cheap” – a word very commonly used as a character judgment. There should also be a Hindi name, and more importantly, the articles and reasoning behind the walk need to be published in Hindi as well. Without the understanding of the thought behind it, the whole point is lost and possibly the dignity of protesters is compromised.

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  8. Despite all the hype over the slut walk, I believe that this is nothing but a tamasha from the stable of misguided feminists who are desperate to have an issue to create a lot of noise. We have grown up with feminism over the last 30 years and have witnessed the gradual decay and decadence of feminism over the years.
    Women who expose themselves do it to attract attention and specially the male gaze.That is the truth that we cannot turn our self from.It is this innate desire which leads a woman to dress in a manner so that her wares can be displayed for the male attention and she feels that it “empowers” her. But mind you, despite all the rhetoric about “empowerment”, what she actually ends up doing is affirming the belief that women are mere sex objects and her so called “empowerment” is her capability to attract male attention not by her intelligence, ability or achievements but by depicting herself as a sex object. In fact she herself sees herself as a sex object.
    Women, when they are among themselves do not feel the necessity to dress provocatively. This was reinforced from the fact that a decade ago, their were emergence of “women only clubs” and it was gradually found that the women attending were not keen to wear make-up or provocative dresses in those get-together and slowly these meetings became drab and faded away.
    Further, is it not interesting to analyse as to why men do not feel the need to dress provocatively or skimpily? It is simply because they do not deem themselves as sex objects who have to garner female attention by displaying their physical attributes and sexual charm.They instead display their financial abilities etc. Hence, it can not be cried down that women themselves believe that they are sex objects and want to “empower” themselves by strutting their sexual charms for men exclusively.
    Feminism has lost it’s direction and the younger generation is being misled.

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  9. I do not think that the so called slut walk will bring dignity to women. In fact it will reinforce the very notion that women themselves consider themselves as sex objects and dress revealingly to attract social attention.We may all agree that a woman has the right to dress as she pleases but the moot point is that why should a woman feel the need to dress that reveals more than what it conceals. Will a woman wear such a dress where there are only women around? I do not think so. The underlying intention is to attract the male attention in a way that he feels sexually stimulated at the sight of her and pays her more attention than he normally should have. It does not mean that he has the right to rape her or molest her but being a woman myself, it cannot be denied that it is intentionally aimed at projecting one self sexually to get maximum male attention.Hence, she herself,rightly or wrongly, conveys that she is herself considers herself as a sex object ,to be admired by men for her sexual attributes solely.

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  10. Susmita,

    I hear you. I wonder what is the difference between being a sex object and affirming one’s sexuality? If a woman wants to assert her sexuality, wants to be attractive and charm the men, I see nothing wrong in that. It is about individual liberty. There is no need to be judge a woman for the lifestyle choice she makes. I don’t know if the traditional feminists thought women don’t need sex or they don’t have sexuality. I am a young feminist and I think a women’s right to sexuality and safe and pleasurable sex is an integral part of feminism. To dress sexily is a part of that sexuality and this campaign at its care aims to address that.

    I however just have a problem with the organizers not contextualizing the campaign, not giving enough thought to make it more relevant to the city of Delhi. Otherwise, in essence this is a great campaign.

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  11. Sanjukta,

    I have the exact same problem with the way the whole thing is being ‘carried’ or even how it got started; taking a ‘tag’ name from an international ‘movement’ and bringing it to India without much though or deliberation on the essence of it. I agreed earlier also that the word IS inappropriate, even the new name is hardly any good. The reason for this is the lack of vision… or the near zero visible effort on deliberating on the REASON why they are even doing it. It seems to me that this is being organised people who have unclear priorities and/or goals. Even one look at the facebook page (the wall or the info page) gives the impression of bad management; of a potentially strong movement being carried by (say) young teens doing the ‘cool’ thing (i dont want to stereotype ‘young teens’ but you’d get the point). In fact i don’t think that even the current date is right; i’d expect something like this to have an actively managed ‘gestation period’ where in the masses become ready to embrace it and / or face it.

    However, I am of the belief that negative publicity affects the public thinking, and thus the outcomes, a lot. When i read your article for the first time after i got to know of this “walk” i saw two things, one, your blog has huge following and two, i felt like the whole concept was useless and wasteful. On the contrary before reading the article i was optimistic that this initiative might mature with some more time and inputs. I wondered how many readers your article would have affected in a similar way and that is why i felt that at least something constructive about the ‘movement’ or ‘issue’ or whatever you may call it, could have been included.

    I tried reaching the organizers and put some questions – doubts i had- to which i never received a reply. I also suggested via email about changing the name and gave reasons for it. I have tried to communicate with them, although to no avail. All i wish is that this issue does not become a mockery, a joke, and that some good leadership takes it up in the proper way. There sure is pressing need and so i wish that people like you come together and tap the opportunity to make the right thing happen rather than letting it fizzle out or have the wrong impact. Educate, empower, and enable me – the public – to connect, cooperate, and thereon, carry the movement successfully in the right direction.

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  12. Ritu,

    I hear you better this time. I agree that through my article which has a big outreach, I could initiate a better campaign. But that’s a huge task, I never thought I had the capacity to lead an entire city’s girl to a campaign, it could be laziness or lack of confidence.

    However I wrote a fresh piece for In.com, where I have tried to put things in a more positive context. I also raised the importance of having a campaign of this nature. Do read that http://www.in.com/news/current-affairs/slut-walk-we-need-a-tawaaif-walk-19451672-in-1.html

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  13. The proposition that India is a dangerous country for women cannot be gainsaid. The number of cases of violence against women in states such as Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is increasing. In Mayawati’s Uttar Pradesh alone over the past month or so more than a dozen case of rape have been reported and in the Lakimpur incident it appears that even the police were involved. In Delhi women, particularly the young ones find it difficult to lead a life free from sexual harassment. So I agree that public attention has to be directed toward the menance of sexual predation. Having said this, we have to examine the motivation behind the “Slut Walk” which is being organised by a few women in the national capital. Yesterday on TV channel, Headlines Today, I watched the debate on this issue and would like to respond to it.

    I wish the women behind the Slut Walk take up real issues that pertain to the conditions of the girl child in India today instead of making a splash in the name of post colonial ideologies of gender and identity. One remarkable way of depoliticising any society is to police the terms of the debate within which a society negotiates with its constituent elements. Post colonial forms of individual choice based on sexual preference, gender, and identity skit the issue of social change by taking the problems of society out of the realm or domain of organised politics and placing them squarely within the framework of individual choice and identity. Unfortunately, the vaporisation of post colonial theories in our so-called Institutions of higher education has resulted in the elite women of Indian society mimicking western feminism and thy simply ignore the reality that confronts the girl child in this hell called India.

    The women who have organised the Slut Walk claim to represent Indian women. I am certain that they are not aware of the real conditions faced by women in India and are resorting to sensational methods which only skit the real issue and trivialize the abominable conditions faced by the girl child. Are these women aware of the fact that India ranks among the highest in terms of maternal mortality? What are they doing to create public awareness about it. Are they aware that in India dowry deaths have become so common that it does not make news anymore. Slut Walks of the sort that these pyts (pretty young things) are organising will make things even worse for the girl child. Are these women aware of the declining sex ration and female fetishist that is rampant in north Indian societies. How will the Slut Walk help in making even women aware of the horrid reality of female feoticide that is taking palce all over India. By asserting their idividual right over collective destiny, the organisers of Slut Walk are playing havoc with the future of the girl child in India because of the conspiracy of silence over the real issues facing the girl child in India. I wish that the articulate and obviously educated young women take the plight of their less fortunate sisters more seriously.

    The fact that India remains a dangerous country for women should make us sit up and take notice. But Slut Walks will not make India safe for young girls. The solution lies in what Dr B R Ambedkar said–educate, organise and agitate. Tamashs like slut walks are mere spectacles

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  14. Hello All

    This movement is exactly aiming at the core issue. that if a girl is wearing anything which is NOT APPROPRIATE as YOUR culture then it is bad.

    This movement is exactly aiming that mentality of Indian (Both Men and Women) will never can dignify a woman.

    Remember : still most of the rape cases don’t get to light. Because that happens to them who are themselves or have people like us in their society. Who restrict them to ask for justice.

    Now a days almost guys from all families are going abroad for leisure or business. They dont start raping there the movement they get out of airport. Rapes are happening because of mindset of the family and because of our leaders who provoke it by stating against girl rather then stating against the criminal. They should understand that they are supporting the crime.

    If family is telling a guy that girls who wearing short dresses are bad how come they will have respect for them.

    Delhi Guys should support the movement as they are already looked a criminal in other states as Delhi guys cannot be trusted.

    My sincere advice to all the families who think that there should be restriction on girls or increase of rape cases are due to dresses they wear, that NEVER LET ANY OF YOUR GUYS GO ABROAD AS THEY MAY COMMIT A CRIME THEIR.

    Rape is on rise not because of dress girls wear it is because of criminal mentality family give while upbringing to those criminals.

    Crime in Delhi is because of support of politician and police to criminals who has loosen there investigation and strictness because of their mentality.

    Call it a slut walk of anything you like. but people should be free to express themselves if they cannot then society is not progressive.

    Laws should be so strict that one should never think of committing a crime.

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  15. Let me get this right. Are you saying the women who participate in the slut walk in India are all going to wear revealing clothes, that onlookers will get ‘excited’ watching them, and then will grope innocent girls to vent out their sexual frustration?

    In all probability, the women will dress the way they normally do. I don’t think any of us would want to parade naked on the road, and on national TV.

    The point is – the NAME ‘slut walk’ will make India turn and notice. It may, hopefully, draw some attention to the core issue – which is – no matter what a woman wears – a man CANNOT JUSTIFY RAPE using that as an excuse.

    I wish we could go BEYOND THE NAME, and help spread the core message.

    And yes, this may have Zero impact on the Indian mindset. Rapes and abuse will still continue. Women in the rural areas who have no clue about ‘sluts’ or ‘walks’ will continue to be raped.

    But atleast we can say we tried to raise our voice against: ‘Men justifying rape by blaming the victim for ‘inviting’ it’.

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  16. Why don’t you get it, its about the name. If you change the name, contextualize the campaign by giving a name that will reflect the “core issue” in the language that people will understand, you will go a far longer way in making a difference. Like Besharmi Morcha is a good name. They have taken it now.

    Its about taking your message to the target audience in the language they understand.

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  17. On comments and other dialogue around the slutwalk. “misguided” is an incredibly patronizing way to describe what essentially amounts to a difference of opinion. It is quite unrealistic as well, to assume that people who have devoted significant amounts of time thinking about the protest, its impact, its need, its origin, its name….. are somehow stupider than you, because you have decided. This is not a voice of wisdom, and it polarizes a dialogue, where the core need for greater dignity is actually not disputed at all. I hope people are better able to verbalize specifics, so that we all gain from the thoughts and conversations generated.

    I have written extensively in support of the walk and I remain convinced that no matter what the result, it is still a step ahead. I am not a feminist. I am a believer that hidden dysfunctional dynamics in our society need to be brought on the table for change to happen. I don’t see this as a “women’s issue” at all. I see this as a big social concern – an increasingly unsafe, judgmental and intolerant environment. And women may be its most common victims, but the decay ranges from politics to education. The questioning of the right to pass judgments is going to create awareness on judgments in other areas too (a guess based on my study of people, not data)

    About the name, I think the name needs to be one used as a judgment. This is a protest, not a popularity contest. If naari shakti variety names were reality, the protest would not be needed at all. If calling to naari shakti type attitudes were effective, the protest wouldn’t be needed either. The protest takes the reality happening in streets, trains, buses, homes, markets, offices, colleges…. and places it firmly in public view. Look. this is happening.

    The discomfort is natural when a massive bluff is called. the bluff that women are respected, when they are not. There is similar discomfort around other massive calls to face reality. I see it as a good sign, because the message is reaching, even if it isn’t understood yet.

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  18. I co-organized the slutwalk event in Lisbon and i must tell you we’ve heard some of these criticisms.. being Portuguese we also do not use the word ‘slut’ to abuse women who do not conform to the expected female gender norms.. It really didn’t matter; all of us really understood how it could be ‘translated’ into our own language (even though, while traveling abroad, many of us have been abused with this exact word); ‘slut’ became a symbol of the stigmatization and shame put on to women who do not conform to the double standard patriarchal-fascist gender ‘morals’ all over the world. Just wanted to let you know that the organizing of the protest here, in Lisbon, was such an empowering process for everyone involved; it brought together different social classes, women from different generations (grandmothers, mothers, daughters, ..), men.. Most of the people involved had families and/or worked; all the hours, sometimes only minutes, we had for ourselves we invested in organizing this event. It was so tiring. Only the people involved in organizing this kind of protest would know…. The young women in Delhi I’m sure know it as well… They have all my solidarity and my respect. People who don’t participate have NO CLUE. Some people TALK and some people DO. The ones who DO are the ones who contribute to social change and justice and those are the ones deserving of respect. Organizers of the slutwalk Delhi: walk with your heads up and with pride! You already manage to do something amazing – start the debate about a world culture that ‘tell’ women not to get raped instead of ‘telling’ men not to rape! Thank you sisters!

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  19. I read an article by… i would call her One of us…. it is a candid piece, so i am sharing a few telling lines…..

    “[…] Incidently the ‘safety’ of this city does not take into consideration the starers, the whistlers and the singers. Harassment happens with hands, elbows AND with the eyes. I can’t begin to explain how it feels to be stripped by a total stranger. Does it matter whether he actually tears my clothes off in public, or does it in his mind and makes it very clear what he’s thinking? The fact is that he does it with utmost DISRESPECT, with no fear of being pulled up. He is willing to demean me mentally and he would, physically too, if he had a chance. Staring is rude, we are all taught as kids. Why? Because it makes people uncomfortable.

    This is someone who doesn’t give a damn about making me uncomfortable and what’s more….he wants to watch me squirm.
    Do I deserve to feel bad?
    To be embarassed about my gender?
    To downplay my appearance?
    To move furtively and quickly when I am alone?

    […]

    I wouldn’t call it street harassment. Because it doesn’t stop at the street. It follows me into train compartments, where the men in the bogey adjoining mine leer through the grill and whistle. There is a reason I don’t stand next to the grill…too many fingers and eyes, too close for comfort. It follows me out onto the roads, where truck drivers speed up their vehicles and brush by me, making me jump, when I try to cross the road. It shadows me in the guise of the bus conductor who hands out tickets to the people behind me, each time ‘inadvertently’ brushing my breasts. It sneaks up to me when the security guard who lets me into the office leans over my shoulder to flash the card at the door and tries to look down my neckline. It is all around me all day with people whose eyes stay fixed to a spot about 3 inches below my chin….they are canteen boys, watchmen, courier boys and yes…even friends and colleagues.”

    The link: http://xxfactor.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/the-faceless-hand-in-the-crowd/

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