It’s a whole new generation of feminists. They’re foul-mouthed (some of them), outrageously dressed (or undressed), with green and purple and orange hair (or just regular hair). They’re straight and lesbian and both. They’re young — in their early twenties mainly. And dynamite — these are not women you want to mess with.
A cynical press was quick to label a “new wave” of feminists in the 1980s as “fuck-me feminists” (aka, with weird decorousness here in Wikipedia, “sex-positive feminists”). Well, as the new generation of feminists would say, fuck that.
These are the fuck-you feminists. The SlutWalk feminists. There was lots of skin on display here in Seattle on Sunday, and great tattoos. There were ripped fishnet stockings and day-glo pink platform boots and deliberately slutty thrift-store bras and teddies. Five-year-olds with signs saying “Free to be me.” A super-sexy Superwoman. A woman in full Amish dress and bonnet carrying a sign saying “How I dress does not mean Yes.” And lots of people with black teeshirts with “This is what a feminist looks like” in white lettering — many of them men.
“The radical notion that no-one deserves to be raped,” read one ironic banner. “Fuck shame,” read another. And “Jesus loves sluts” (directed at the nutters from Westboro Baptist Church — the ones who picket military funerals — who gave up and took their “Jesus hates fags” signs to a gay picnic instead).
Shameless? You bet. These new feminists are taking all the old insults — slut, bitch, whore, dyke — and running with them, turning them inside out.
Rocking and shocking their feminist forebears? Definitely. Too many older feminists have criticized the SlutWalk movement for feeding into the over-sexualization of women — which makes them sound alarmingly like their own mothers criticizing them when they first took to the streets in protest (“I didn’t raise my daughter so’s she could go parading around like this in public…”)
Hey, the founding generation of feminists — my generation — don’t “own” feminism. That’s the whole point of founding a movement. You hand it on. Younger women take the reins. They reshape it, fight sexism in their own ways, redefine what it is to be free and female. They make the movement their own.
So what if most of the SlutWalkers haven’t read ‘Against Our Will,’ Susan Brownmiller’s classic on rape? They get it. Stop blaming the victim; blame the rapist. Stop shaming the victim; shame the rapist. You don’t get raped because of what you wear; you get raped because a rapist attacks you. It’s not a sex crime; it’s a crime of violence.
“I’m just sorry we still have to be out here saying this,” said one of the dozen or so women over forty in the crowd of over a thousand. I knew what she meant. In a perfect world, we’d be rid of rape. But it takes more than one generation. And this one’s going about it with an in-your-face directness that I totally admire.
So me, I just stood there beaming, aware of am alarming sense of absurdly maternal pride whelming up in me. I was so damn proud of this new feminist generation. Happy just to stand there and be part of their protest. And as ready as they were to stand up to any police officer who asks what a woman was wearing when she was raped and say “Fuck that.”
Was just in Elliott Bay Bookstore and came across this: