Saturday, October 15, 2011

After a lot of time and consideration, I've decided to leave SlutWalk

I had initially intended to stick by SlutWalk and stay active within the movement.

But now, after dealing with the mass amounts of ignorance and racism coming from people organizing and participating in SlutWalk, people criticizing SlutWalk, and, the most painful of all, with Kris Fletcher, the woman who I partnered up and did SlutWalk Grand Rapid with (as evidenced by 1, 2, 3, 4*), I've come to find that I no longer feel like this is my movement, or a movement that welcomes me. I go to the SlutWalk page and feel a heaviness. The name has become comical and mocking to me, a slap in the face at times. Women of color who are criticizing the racism they see in mainstream feminism and the SlutWalk movement are getting shouted down, accused of being racist themselves, being ignored. I am as cynical and wary as thy come, but I never imagined the bigotry in this movement and in current-day feminism was this aggravated, that people knew SO little about our lives, our history, our cultures, our struggles.

My story was not of the white, sexually liberated college feminist, but of the once "pious" and "godly" Latina Baptist church girl, who was never out of her parents' sight for the first 14 years of her life, who never went around with boys or wore "slutty" clothes. I've since grown into the person I am today, but needless to say, my past and my identity informs her and her activism. My SlutWalk sign was in Spanish. On the Slutwalk page or when arguing with trolls, I addressed how these issues intersected and correlated with issues of race and women of color. In the interview I did at the actual SlutWalk and in my speech beforehand, I addressed this intersection yet again. I had a friend design flyers both in Spanish and English.

I knew about the criticisms of SlutWalk before I even created the page, and had many of my own. I understood and wanted Grand Rapids' SlutWalk to be different and stand as an example of one done right. In the end, partly due to failures on my behalf and failures on mainstream feminism as a whole, I wasn't able to communicate that, or people just aren't listening and understanding how important this intersection of race and gender is.

Sexism as experienced by women of color is often racialized. Even worse, just like how my former SlutWalk partner's post showed, the sexism we experienced is appropriated by whites out of alleged faux concern, but instead twists our history and spits on our culture and is spoken from a place of ignorance. We're told what words we can or cannot use, and how to engage our history and our past. White people default and refer to hip hop videos, Latino telenovelas, & extremely conservative Muslim practices to mournfully shed silent, condescending tears over the "sexism" they see in our cultures, without batting an eye at the extreme ignorance, hypocrasy, and racism in their words. They simultaneously ignore the many women of color who themselves have seen the sexism in their cultures and wish and work tirelessly to see it eradicated, the best and only people suited for such a job in the first place. They forget how privileged they are over the many women of color who are immigrant, who live in poverty, who are undocumented, who are living in third world countries, all to whom which mainstream white feminist history, culture, and rhetoric means absolutely nothing, and just isn't relatable or accesible in any concievable way, shape, or form, no matter how many "White Saviors" might say otherwise. They forget how imperialism and colonization historically enacted by their ancestors in the past and by them in the current day IS AGGRAVATING and CREATING the sexism and lack of human rights WOC experience.

Alternately, no doubt many WOC have been rather shitty about SlutWalk in terms of erasing and ignoring the WOC who DID participate in and identify with Slutwalk for their many various reasons. I would venture to say the racism that has come to obscure and engulf the movement was an even bigger slap to us who participated, who had a vested interest and hope in the movement, who could relate to it. We've been told we're catering to white supremacy, that we're selling ourselves and our people out, that NO WOC have a place in Slutwalk, to not try and be more inclusive because WOC are't interested, go away. We've had our experiences and lives erased with this kind of rhetoric, and for me, being a person who in the past was constantly severed and pushed from her identity as a woman of color in many ways, and often times by woman of color themselves, it was really heart-wrenching and just a reminder of how aliented I have been and still currently am to my culture and identity.

Another aspect that gets ignored is the root of the SlutWalk movement. Yes, punk rock is very white, punk rock is very racist, but punk rock was the first place I truly felt acceptance. SlutWalk, with it's riot grrrl roots and message, was close to my heart as a riot grrrl myself. It appealed to me in the sense that it was a grassroots movement that eschewed and didn't care or rules, authority, & establishment, that wanted to stand brashly against social mores. I feel that many WOC ignored or forgot this aspect of it in it's criticisms, or else just didn't take it seriously enough. That was another way I felt my experiences were spat on by the many dissenters.

That said, I am more than willing to fight with WOC on this and set them straight. I AM NOT willing to educate racists and stand and solidarity with bigots who wish to ignore me and my identity.

In the end, this is also about starting over and creating new ties in my community both as a woman of color and a feminist, as an all or nothing package. There is a lot of white (and other kinds of privilege, academic being a major one) surpremacy in the activist circles in my area, and very little spaces for and by WOC, and that's completely unacceptable for me. I no longer wish to attach my name to institutions and groups and people that ignore me, that belittle me, that appropriate or step on my history, that add me as an afterthought, or after I've angrily told them to do so, or after I've pushed my way in and the air is heavy with apprehension, ignorance, and awkwardness. It isn't my job to educate people. It's my job to be stand in solidarity with my people and work only with those who stand in solidarity with us.

I still extend my unequivocal solidarity and support to my fellow WOC who are still active in participating or supporting SlutWalk. I wish them the best and do not wish to alienate them or put them down in any way, shape, or form.

I plan to use this blog to continue to post more racial (and other -ism related) critiques on the SlutWalk movement, and things in relation to WOC feminism, womanism, and empowerment.

Thanks for reading


*The screencaps aren't meant to be a "HE SAID SHE SAID". How absolutely racist and apologist Kris is is evidence enough by the posting of the picture (just one of many other problematic ones she has posted, including ones in relation to the Antoine Dodson meme, which is racist AND making fun of sexual assault!) and what you can see of her comments.


  1. i'm very sorry to see you leave, since i was part of the Grand Rapids Slutwalk, and was proud to march with you and all those other people, but i understand. everything you've said about the movement is true. as a white woman, i'm very disappointed in how exclusionary SlutWalk is, and how the majority of white feminists taking part will not even acknowledge the concerns and experiences of WOC. we are all experts on our own experiences, and the fact that WOC are being silenced in this feminist movement only further illustrates how feminism is failing WOC.

  2. Brava! I'm still sorry I missed SlutWalk. However, I do believe we have a duty to educate people, as frustrating as it may be to have to deal with the same questions, rooted in political lies and propaganda, over and over again. But we cannot fight anything without first fighting sincere ignorance (which is different from willful stupidity).

    As a WOC who looks white, I've also always been frustrated with the lack of outreach to non-urban, non-liberally raised women, and this post helped me reinforce that quite a bit.

    I'm also starting to think that I'm more abnormal/sheltered by feminism than I thought, with the amount of this I can't relate to.

  3. Um, after reading this, I literally have no idea how you were alienated or marginalized, etc. You give no specific examples and no clear instructions on how I as an (apparently) white person involved in the Slutwalks might behave differently toward WOC in the future.

    "We're told what words we can or cannot use, and how to engage our history and our past." Words like what? How were you told to engage your past and and history, and more importantly, what was wrong with the how you were told to do so?

    "White people default and refer to hip hop videos, Latino telenovelas, & extremely conservative Muslim practices to mournfully shed silent, condescending tears over the "sexism" they see in our cultures, without batting an eye at the extreme ignorance, hypocrasy, and racism in their words." A few examples of this would have been REALLY enlightening.

    I'm not saying you don't have a right to be upset. What I am saying is that unless you're a hell of a lot more specific, then all people like me can do is watch you walk away. We can't change because we don't understand your reasons for doing so nor work with you to tryo to change those things which make you want to leave.

  4. FilthyGrandeur-Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it a lot.

    Tani-Yeah, it's way worse than you'd think. It was way worse than I thought. I'm a born muckraker through and through, educating people is usually something I don't mind doing. But this is taking it too far.

    Laurajakers-I am more than sure that in my letter, I said I wasn't trying to earn or beg for anyone's solidarity, much less those too blinded by their privilege to see what's up. I'm not trying to change bigots, or make people see anything. That's on them, not me. I am both a woman of color AND a creator of a SlutWalk, yet I still have to lay everything out even more than I already did to explain myself to you? How messed up is that? That you don't SEE how I felt marginalized means that you don't UNDERSTAND, not that it didn't happen. Don't project your inability to comprehend on me, thank you. Feel free to keep an eye on this blog, though, since I'm going to be posting more blogs, articles, and other things of note that properly discuss and dissect the many issues there are with Slutwalk. You're not watching me walk away-I'm watching you stay put in your place with your arms crossed over your chest.

  5. Well said Briana, and yeah, laurajakers, not your best work.

    Thanks Briana for your post - it is posts like these, and signs/pics I've seen of the racism at other slutwalks, as well as my personal experiences with the word slut that make it too awful to joke about, that led me to not take part in the slutwalk happening in my community. Which is a shame in a way - it's nice to see women trying to come together, I just wish they'd come together in a loving and mutually supportive way instead of stomping all over people and dismissing their peers' and community elders' concerns.

  6. Not sure if you have seen this...

    A statement about WOC and SlutWalk

  7. @laurajakers: i agree with Briana. your demand for justification/education is extremely racist and entitled, *and* it's really racist of you to act like it's Briana's responsibility to make sure whites are not racist, rather than our responsibility to not be racist.

  8. Hi! Have you ever thought, has your writting level improved recently?