Lets consider just how earnest but confused the organisers of those little pieces of street theatre actually are shall we?
John Lydon says:
You never listen to word that I said
You only seen me
For the clothes that I wear
Or did the interest go so much deeper
It must have been
The colour of my hair.
When it comes to women who are sexually assaulted after going out getting pissed and then staggering around our cities (the sort of scenario that the Canadian policeman who inspired all of this feminist outrage was talking about) well then I think that think that the Mountie was wrong, it is not the way that a woman is dressed that makes her vulnerable in that situation it is being pissed and isolated that does it. In the animal kingdom most predators are total opportunists and to honest I think that the same thing applies to those men who would take advantage of drunken women in the wee small hours in our cities. Now its all well and good to emphasise e that the all women should be safe on the streets after dark but it is most imprudent to assume that wishing for something is going to make it so. As individuals we all have to take responsibility for our own safety as we go about our work or as we seek our pleasures and this applies equally to men and women who go out on the town.
I’m going to upset a few people here but I think that there are a lot of women who are confused when it comes to the message that they send to the world with their public image. Human beings are after all like so many animals they communicate to their fellows in the way that they present themselves to the world. In fact there are lots of birds and animals that put huge amounts of effort into display to demonstrate that they are available and worthy of mating. In many of these species it is often the males who are the dedicated followers of fashion but in our society it is generally women who put on the the display, they are told that they are validated by how attractive they look and there is a huge industry that exists to make their validation happen.
There is however a sort of schizophrenic aspect to the feminists who wan to insist that women should have the right to make overtly sexual displays and at the same time they denounce we poor humble blokes for noticing the size of the breasts, a well shaped bottom that is emphasised by particular items of clothing , or even just what we may find hits all the right notes of our personal tune. You can’t have it both ways. If you make a personal display that emphasises your sexuality then don’t be surprised if men notice you for that reason and make judgements accordingly. That is just the way that we are biologically programmed to respond to sexual display. By the same token though it is NEVER acceptable for anyone to assume that a sexual display means that there is some sort of implicit general consent to sexual activity. The thing is no matter what the current fashions happen to be men and women make judgements about their sexual availability and they may even seek to do more than just look. The problem lays I think in the way that we are constantly told that we have to maintain a sexual display. I say we here to be inclusive of both men and women because the fashion industry has long realised that men and women can be induced into parting with large amounts of cash to maintain a sexual display as a matter of course even when the need is less than urgent once that pair bond has been already been established.
We are all in the thrall of a fashion industry that tells us that we are only validated by having the newest and “most beautiful plumage” that money can buy. Frankly I think that it would do the cause of women (and men) far more good if those young idealistic feminists who are running the Slutwalk street theatre were to turn their attentions to the fashion industry in general and consider just who the players that lead and dictate what is socially acceptable in terms of personal presentation. If history teaches us anything about the nature of “Fashion” it is that it seems to bounce between being very overt to very modest in the amount of flesh that is on display and as the industry has managed to make the obsolescence cycle shorter and shorter to boost sales I think that it has got to the stage where there is absolutely no good sense at all, and even less appreciation of just what messages any particular type individual display makes to the world.
So my message for Slutwalkers everywhere is this; wear whatever you like, display as little or as much flesh as you please that is your right, with you 110% on you having the right to do as you please, but it is unrealistic to think that having a “right” to personal safety will ever guarantee your safety, because there is no way that we will ever have a society without some (hopefully very few) nasty people and violent crime. I am reminded of the advice that a good friend once gave me on the occasion of my first ever visit to Sydney as a young man ” always walk the streets with a sense of purpose and as if you own them, even if you are lost, them and you will have no trouble” There is a message in that advice for young women* too.
And a final quote from that song to ponder:
Public Image you got what you wanted
The Public Image belongs to me
It’s my entrance
My own creation
My grand finale