The Breakthrough Voice 11th June, 2019

Moral Police Motto: I Shame, You Shame, We All Like To Slut-Shame!.

Every minute of the day, in homes, schools, colleges, workplaces, streets, restaurants, clubs – women and girls of every age group are slut-shamed.

The other day in Gurgaon, it was not the first time a girl was slut-shamed because of her choice of clothes.

I was 12 when my school principal told me I was inviting attention because of my sleeveless knee-length dress that I wore to school on the occasion of ‘Children’s Day’ celebrations. Every other day, some girl would be reprimanded in the morning assembly and asked to open the hemstitch of the school uniform to make it longer. Across the corridors, I noticed the teacher hit a 5-year-old nursery child on her knees, demanding that she join her knees and sit.

It was almost impossible for my 12-13-year-old self to sense the deep-seated misogyny in such acts being done under the garb of ‘discipline’ in a missionary school like mine. My 15-year-old self had heard my aunt snidely hint at random girls in the mall and shame them for their choice of clothing or makeup.

slut-shame

Every minute of the day, in homes, schools, colleges, workplaces, streets, restaurants, clubs – women and girls of every age group are slut-shamed. I need to change my clothes depending upon the time of the day, the route back home and the mode of transport. I am tired of the world mistaking the length of my skirt or shade of my lipstick as me ‘asking for it’. Never for once do we sit back and think what have we come down to.

I need to change my clothes depending upon the time of the day, the route back home and the mode of transport.

What have we made our streets into, so that women need to constantly be afraid of getting assaulted? The incident in Gurgaon is one out of the millions of such instances that we as women face every moment of the day. It wasn’t even surprising to me that a woman said those words. The extent of internalised misogyny is just that rampant. She is the representation of society that has normalized and ingrained a deep-seated rape culture and slut-shaming into everyone’s minds.

Patriarchal ideology tries to enforce rigid gender roles and stereotyped behaviour patterns and further enforce the gender binary. Along with that, it also attempts to establish and reinforce a controlling mechanism on women. They refuse to see women not comply with it or break away from it. The concept of slut-shaming is one of patriarchy’s greatest weapons against women.

One of the most often asked questions to sexual assault survivors is, “What were you wearing?” The unstated and troubling implication is that the clothes that were worn, if different, could have prevented the atrocity or would affect the level of sympathy being offered.

One of the most often asked questions to sexual assault survivors is, “What were you wearing?”

But all is not lost. There are multiple incidents where women and girls are fighting back at an individual and at the collective levels. Through emotion-evoking and creative means. An art exhibit called What Were You Wearing? was on display at the University of Kansas. The art project was created in 2013 and later featured at the University of Arkansas and the University of Iowa. It featured replicated clothing items similar to those worn by actual victims and survivors of sexual assault. It shatters the myth that provocative clothing incites rape.

Asami Nagakiya, a Japanese steel pan player was killed during the 2016 Carnival Season. Mayor Tim Kee said, “The woman has the responsibility to ensure she is not abused”. There was enormous public outrage and The Not Asking For It campaign was born in response to these events. Started by photographer Fiona Crompton, the campaign aimed to break the culture of victim blaming through videos, music pieces, photo diaries.

 

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Repost from @projectstepone. This is a mural in Dublin by @emmaleneblake. She designed it after a man was found not guilty for rape when the jury was asked to consider “the thong with the lace” that the survivor was wearing. This brings #awareness to the ridiculous cultural belief that clothing means survivors are #askingforit. Share your #metoo #whyididntreport story anonymously with @metoomeredith. Your voice MATTERS. Share yours if you want to be heard. #metoomeredith #feminist #feminism #equality #believewomen #humanrights #activism #believesurvivors #triggeredfeminist #woman #womenempowerment #girlpower #yesallwomen #believesurvivors #believewomen #womensreality #timesup #iamanastywoman #everydaysexism #heforshe #fem2 #woke #wokefeminist #metoomovement #enoughisenough #resist #iamasurvivor #notaskingforit

A post shared by Me Too Meredith (@metoomeredith) on

SlutWalk is a transnational movement calling for an end to rape culture, including victim-blaming and slut-shaming of sexual assault survivor/victims. The rallies began on April 3, 2011, in Toronto, Canada after a Toronto Police officer suggested that women should avoid dressing like sluts as a precaution against sexual assault. The first rally witnessed 3000 people turn out. Subsequent rallies have occurred globally in parts of the United States, Australia, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

On July 16, 2011, about 50 people rallied for India’s first SlutWalk in Bhopal called Besharmi Morcha. On July 31, 2011, the Besharmi Morcha took place in New Delhi that witnessed 500 supporters. A SlutWalk was held in Kolkata on May 24, 2012, with a gathering of 300 people. I Will Go Out was a nationwide March carried out on 21 January 2017 in India to demand women’s rights to fair and equitable access to public spaces. People marched across 30 odd cities and towns across the country.

These collectives and campaigns generated positive changes and inspired many women to fight back and asserted their rights to not be slut-shamed, victim-blamed and moral policed. Perpetrators found themselves being forced to keep quiet, and sometimes even apologise. There is no guarantee that society won’t slut-shame anymore, but fighting back is a united and sustained process with definite results. Moral of the story is: where there is resistance, there is hope.

Also Read: Are We Shaming Others Because Of Internalised Misogyny?


Original image provided by the author. 

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