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Femen was founded and is controlled by a man. Exactly zero people are surprised

Femen, aka, CLASSICAL FEMINISM IS DEAD ALSO LOOK AT OUR BOOOOOBS, turns out to have been founded and controlled by a man named Victor Svyatski. Outed by Australian film-maker Kitty Green, she says: “It’s his movement and he hand-picked the girls. He hand-picked the prettiest girls because the prettiest girls sell more papers. The prettiest girls get on the front page… that became their image, that became the way they sold the brand.” I swear I don’t want to go all “I TOLD YOU SO SUCKERS” but seriously. We talked about this. We talked about the fact that the whole point of Femen was to capture the male gaze, thereby capturing the attention of the media. We talked about the fact that we should be skeptical “anytime anyone makes...
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It’s not ‘slut-shaming’, it’s woman hating

We, in feminist land, like very much to encourage folks (particularly media-type folks, as they have a pretty significant role in framing discourse) to use correct language. Or, at very least, language that describes something real. In my last post, for example, I talked about the fact that many mainstream news sources reported on the murder of Kasandra Perkins without ever using the words ‘violence against women’ or even ‘domestic abuse’. Feminists know that naming the act and the perpetrator is important lest systemic inequity and the fact that we live in a sexist society disappear into the ether. It’s hard to address misogyny if we refuse to acknowledge that it exists and shapes our lives. Language matters. As such, I would like to address a newfangled term that...
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Breaking! Slutwalk is about spectacle, individual empowerment, wearing sexy lingerie, says everyone with eyes and brains

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, cheer, or drink a bottle of wine and have a very long nap, but this recent post on Ms. Magazine’s blog about Slutwalk LA almost left me speechless. I can’t tell if the author is just being honest, at long last, about the apolitical, selfish, pointlessness of Slutwalk or if she’s just completely clueless.* After all the talk about Slutwalk supposedly being ‘a parody’ or ‘ironic’ (NO, NO YOU GUYS. YOU JUST DON’T GET IT. WE’RE SLUTS! …get it?), this post actually threw me for a loop. So, this is the parody thing y’all were going on about, yeah? Dressed in bras and underwear, fishnets and the occasional lace-up platform boot, we all had, according to comedian Luce Tomlin-Brenner, an air of...
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Slutwalk Vancouver keeps it real

According to coverage in the Georgia Straight of Slutwalk Vancouver, this year’s event had a definitively different focus than last year’s. That is, the overt promotion of the legalization of prostitution. Normalizing and mainstreaming prostitution is not, in fact, a concept that is new to Slutwalks. Across the world, the pro-sex work lobby have been actively engaged in various Slutwalks, using the convoluted message and apolitical nature of the event as an opportunity to promote prostitution as a potentially empowering choice for women. While assault and violence against prostituted women happens with appalling regularity, the trouble with Slutwalk’s promotion of prostitution is that it avoids addressing the root cause of the violence, instead opting to advocate for the mainstreaming and normalization of women as consumable objects. Slutwalk placed itself...
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Safer strolls: A new, progressive way to blame the victim?

You want to talk victim-blaming? Ok. Let’s talk victim blaming. The Toronto Sun published an article on March 11th entitled: “Helping Hookers Stay Safe” which looked at a project called the safer stroll project. According to the article, this project is an “innovative mentorship program…designed to educate sex workers to deal with high-risk and violent situations.” The reporter interviews one sex worker for the piece, who describes various horrific situations within which she was subjected to violence at the hands of johns. This violence, it is fair to assume, is not limited to one individual but is something many women and, particularly, many prostituted women are at risk for. But rather than addressing this violence in the most obvious way, that is to go to the root, this particular...
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It's International Women's Day; are our foremothers rolling over in their graves?

It’s hard not to heave a big ol’ feminist sigh on International Women’s Day. But, in many ways, I think that’s just fine. International Women’s Day isn’t intended to be a celebration, from my perspective. Rather, it is a reminder. A reminder that we still need an International Women’s Day. Across the world women are fighting for their rights. They are fighting for equality, for workers’ rights, for reproductive rights, they are protesting poverty and raising awareness about violence against women. Strangely, many Westerners like to imagine that we inhabit an egalitarian society. I’m not sure where they’re looking, but from where I’m standing, we still have a lot of work to do. On Friday, Jarrah Hodge covered the Vancouver and District Labour Council’s annual International Women’s Day Dinner....
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The naked protester (or, how to get the media to pay attention to women)

Nudity as a form of protest wasn’t invented by PETA. Events such as the World Naked Bike Ride uses nudity as a way to protest “oil dependency and to celebrate the power and individuality of bodies,” 600 environmental activists went naked in 2007 to protest global warming and even as far back as the early 1900s, the Doukhobors, a Russian pacifist religious sect, held nude protest parades. So I wouldn’t go so far as to say that nudity was useless as a tactic in social movements. Lately the Ukrainian protest group, Femen, has been getting a lot of attention. Why? Well, they’re beautiful, thin, young women who are mostly topless. They’re described alternately as a “women’s rights group” or a “feminist group,” as they campaign against issues such as...
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Grasping at Straws: Comparing Slutwalk and Occupy Wall Street

Recently, there have been a slew of articles written about women and Occupy Wall Street. Particularly, the need for a feminist presence in the movement and the recognition that women are often the ones who suffer the most under an inequitable economic system. In an unfortunate, but hardly surprising, male-centric lapse of judgement, some dudes decided that the best way to get folks out to protest was to turn women into sacrificial lambs, with a site and video called “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.” I mean, why bother paying any attention to women if they aren’t turning you on? In fact, why bother doing anything at all if you can’t reinforce your male power by objectifying women? Though this kind of attitude towards women in progressive movements is...
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This week in faux-feminism (or, seven days of rage)

  Such a busy week! So much to do, so much to say. Too much to say, in fact. The rage, it is almost paralyzing. So instead of writing a real blog post I made a list!   This week’s faux-feminist round-up: 1)  Article at The Huffington Post explains why, if we don’t join Slutwalk, we are ruining feminism for everyone. 2)  Blog posted at Feministing explains that anti-exploitation, anti-violence, anti-misogyny, anti-oppression, and anti-rape actually equals ‘anti-sex.’ 3)  Feministing commenter explains that radical feminism is “not true feminism” and that it “does not belong on college campuses or anywhere” because of “frequent racism.” So like, in comparison to our completely free-of-racism friend Slutwalk? Possibly the least radical ‘feminist’ ‘movement’ ever? Got it, folks? Liberal feminism = good-thing-we’re-all-so-awesome-let’s-keep-patting-each-other-on-the-back-while-explaining-to-women-of-colour-that-the-n-word-isn’t-actually-racist/offensive,  radical feminism...
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Slutwalk NYC: More of the same

I’ve got to be honest here. I truly believed that Slutwalk NYC was going to be different. Not different enough to lose the ‘slut’, and therefore, not different enough to convince me that this ‘movement’ was one I wanted anything to do with, but perhaps different enough to hold validity beyond personal catharsis. Maybe this Slutwalk would actually say something radical. Maybe this Slutwalk would comment on systematic oppression. Maybe even this Slutwalk would present a challenge to male power. It didn’t. Today, this video was posted, along with a blog which notes, among other things, the frustration felt by many about the way in which the media has focused “on the most elaborately undressed and risque marchers.”     Strangely, this video did just that. Which leads me...
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Men, Feminism, Power, Pornography & Slutwalk: Part two of a conversation with Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer is a gender studies professor at a college in Southern California, a writer, and was an organizer of Slutwalk LA. Though our opinions and positions diverge significantly in some areas, in an effort to engage in civil debate and have an honest conversation, Hugo and I have asked one another 5 questions, posting our respective responses here and at hugoschwyzer.net Hugo’s responses to my questions were posted on Monday. I look forward to hearing readers thoughts and comments on these conversations. Hugo and I will respond to one another late next week and I would like to be able to include some reader comments in my response. Thanks to Hugo for his interest in and willingness to engage in these conversations and thank you to commenters for...
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Feminism, Porn, and SlutWalk: part one of a conversation with Hugo Schwyzer

Originally posted at Hugo Schwyzer’s blog. Hugo Schwyzer is a gender studies professor at a college in Southern California, a writer, and was an organizer of Slutwalk LA. Though our opinions and positions diverge significantly in some areas, in an effort to engage in civil debate and have an honest conversation, Hugo and I have asked one another 5 questions, posting our respective responses here and at hugoschwyzer.net My responses to Hugo’s questions will be posted on Wednesday. I look forward to hearing readers thoughts and comments on these conversations. Hugo and I will respond to one another the following week and I would like to be able to include some of your comments in this response. Thanks to Hugo for his interest in and willingness to engage in...
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Slutwalks, sex work, and the future of feminism

If this is the future of feminism I am afraid. This is not intended to slight Jessica Valenti’s recent article in The Washington Post and this is not to say that  Valenti isn’t right about the power of grassroots organizing and the way in which it can be incredibly inspiring to watch young women get together and fight for their lives. Protest is good. Conversations are good. And MAN has all this Slutwalk stuff started a conversation. So it’s not so much that I think the protest is bad, or that all these conversations have been bad. This many people talking about feminism? Pretty neat. What scares me is where that conversation has headed. What scares me is this image, taken from Slutwalk Las Vegas’ Facebook page: While, as...
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'Big Tent' feminism? Sounds great. Feels a lot like the status quo.

What is it that one means when arguing for ‘Big Tent’ feminism? Inclusivity, for sure, ‘non-judgment’, perhaps, and diversity, well….maybe. While the argument for ‘Big Tent’ feminism, frequently written about by Hugo Schwyzer, who also writes for The Good Men Project, is posited as being simply about allowing space for various perspectives and positions in feminism, the discourse, at times, seems to do the opposite. Including prostituted women or women who work in the sex industry in feminism is excellent. These voices are just as much a part of feminism as anyone’s. That isn’t up for discussion. The issue that many feminists have had with Schwyzer’s ‘Big Tent’ feminism, placed as a counter-argument to those who question the positioning of the sex industry as an ally to feminist activism,...
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Slutwalk: A critical note around coverage of criticism.

There have been, as I’m sure, at this point, you’ve all noticed, many, many critiques of Slutwalk. For a brief, but thorough, summary, check out the Feminist Frequency’s Link Round Up: Feminist Critiques of Slutwalk. Critiques have ranged from questioning Slutwalk’s authority or ability to ‘reclaim’ a misogynist and gendered word like ‘slut’ and whether, in fact, such a thing is possible or desirable, to the marginalization of people and communities of colour and ignorance around how class and privilege might play into both the event as a whole, as well as factor into the assertion that ‘slut’ has been reclaimed and now means something awesome/compulsory-sexuality-for-everyone!, to the reinforcement of mychoice feminism (FUCK YEAH) in so much of Slutwalk discourse, which represents individual choice and personal empowerment as, somehow,...
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Feeling 'uncomfortable': A response to Slutwalk DC's defense around holding a fundraiser at a 'gentlemen's club'

I could hardly believe my eyes when this was brought to my attention this morning. Slutwalk DC is holding an upcoming fundraiser at a ‘Gentlemen’s Club’. Sounds classy, right? I’m thinking suits, briefcases, scotch…Just a good old fashioned place for ‘gentlemen’ to go and feel like they can purchase women’s bodies. Hey, everybody needs to relax, right? Experiencing and anticipating some push back, I assume, led the DC satellite to produce a statement defending their decision. Said statement, from my perspective, has only made things worse, as, in defensiveness, the author makes sweeping and untrue assumptions about a) feminism b) why a woman might feel ‘uncomfortable’ attending a fundraiser at a strip club and c) the actual reasons why women or feminists might object to this (hint: it’s not...
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We're Sluts, Not Feminists. Wherein my relationship with Slutwalk gets rocky.

It would appear that, through lack of clarity, something has finally become clear: Slutwalk has lost me. I have been following the media coverage, the blog posts, and especially, the threads on SlutwalkTO’s Facebook page, with vigour over the past month or so, since the original walk took place in Toronto on April 3rd. I think it’s safe to say that my relationship with Slutwalk has been a little bit of a feminist rollercoaster ride. One moment I feel like YEAH! WOMEN GETTING MAD. Because, hey, women should be mad. Victim blaming is one of the most insidious, abusive, and traumatic experiences a woman can go through. Not only have we been assaulted, had to come out and admit/describe the assault (terrifying in and of itself), but then we are...
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