I have to admit that Margaret Wente’s SlutWalk critique made me squirm a little.
Yeah, I get that there are bigger problems in the world than some cop saying women in a first world city shouldn’t dress like sluts. I get that women’s studies/academic feminism does some navel-gazing that isn’t always/often productive, and I get that some dialogues within feminist circles are oblivious to privilege. *squirm*
But (a) if everyone only went after the biggest problems in the world, we’d have Africa wallpapered with condoms and mosquito nets and no treatment for the flu or something, (b) do you mean to say that some of those “incident[s] of being groped by some 20-year-old drunk” are okay, and (c) really, are we going to settle for “better than the 1970s”?
Is it really safe to assume that many of these SlutWalkers only engage in this particular sort of activism? (I honestly can’t say; I haven’t been to one.) Isn’t it possible to be involved both in helping those less privileged get to where you and in trying to raise the standards set by your own society?
Also: “So, is violence against women a non-problem? Absolutely not. It is a very large problem in a number of Canada’s South Asian communities, including some not far from York University.” Yep. Because pointing fingers at others while you’re guilty of the same thing yourself isn’t hypocrisy. I believe there is a saying about this that involves kitchenware, but I wouldn’t know, I’m too empowered to even go near a kitchen.
I note that Wente doesn’t disagree with the message of SlutWalk per se, and this is great. It’s just that she’s content with how things are because others are worse off. Can’t we fight both battles?