Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MAY 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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Sluts not feminists

On April 26, the University of Iowa Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance held a protest march dubbed "SlutWalk Iowa City."

The intent and message of the event was to bring to light and discuss the double standard scrutiny of women's attire and the status quo in society of what makes women "sluts."

Although there was no dress code, participants were encouraged by the alliance in its news release to "feel free to dress in provocative or 'slutty' clothing if they choose to do so."

Let me preface this by saying the level of scrutiny in American society on women and women's bodies is undeniably much higher and therefore unfair in comparison to men and their bodies. And should anyone accuse me of perpetuating blaming victims, there is no guilty party in a sexual assault other than the perpetrator. No one "asks for it," ever. No one's clothing signifies she is "allowing" a perpetrator to take advantage of her. A woman can dress as provocatively as she likes, and like the participants at the SlutWalk, she has every right to without fear of sexual assault.

But what are we, as women, saying to ourselves, and society as a whole, when we glorify the very term and identity used to maintain the status quo? What is the point of dressing "slutty"? What does a woman advance when she adheres to the exact image set by a society that objectifies women's bodies for profit and for power?

An argument often put forth by a derivation of third-wave feminism is that women are taking control of their own bodies and message when they decide, of their own accord, to dress provocatively. I couldn't agree less.

Feminism is the idea that women are equal to men. They are; however, in our society and societies across the globe, those in power have controlled women and minority populations through well-established means. With women, American society has used the objectification and hyper-sexualization of female bodies to control the "ideal" woman image and valuing it above other qualities that we, as human beings, also possess. When women "free themselves" by emulating the very image used to make them less equal, they not only don't advance feminism, they set it back.

It is more than right for women to demand and work for progress in equal treatment in the way society views us. Women are not the sum of what sexual identities we have been force-fed in order to capitalize on what appeals to the status quo. To mirror the way society has framed us in the past, and still sometimes frames us, does not empower any of us — a "slut" is not a feminist.

Chelsea Bacon
Iowa City resident

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