By Scott Tibbs, April 25, 2014
Is the "Slut Walk" really the best way to attack rape culture, or does the silliness of the event distract from the important message that the protesters are trying to promote - that victims of rape are not responsible for the violent acts committed against them? I think the answer is obvious: This is a silly sideshow that does not advance the cause of victims' rights. Circuses rarely do.
This is not to say there is not a legitimate point to be made. The event originated when a Toronto police officer said that women could avoid getting raped if they did not dress like "sluts." This is a deplorable statement, obviously - no victim of violent crime consents to being victimized. The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist himself. Too many people still think that rape victims are "asking for it" somehow, and that attitude needs to be changed - but this is not the way to change it.
But when feminists are walking around campus wearing nothing but a bra from the waist up or "wearing opened button-down shirts with tape covering their nipples," they are not treating a sensitive issue with the intellectual seriousness it demands. Take Back the Night already spreads that message in various ways, including the chant "whatever I wear, wherever I go, yes means yes and no means no." Dressing in an indecent manner does not convince anyone of your argument. You might as well be putting on a clown nose and wig.
The "Slut Walk" did get some unsavory opposition, when a "white nationalist" group showed up to counter-protest. Feminists responded by using bed sheets to cover the group's signs. I often wonder where feminists come bed linens so quickly, so they can use them to censor speech they do not like.
You will thankfully not find much support for a "white nationalist" group in Bloomington, but the reaction was exactly the wrong thing to do. By covering up, stealing or destroying their signs (and worse, physically assaulting them) "Slut Walk" activists did nothing but elevate the Trad Youth movement. Feminists also make themselves look dangerously emotionally unstable and mentally unhinged. If Trad Youth's message is so offensive, let that message be discredited in the marketplace of ideas. Censorship by violent mob rule only serves to discredit the mob and bring sympathy on the group being censored.
At the end of the day, an event that was guaranteed to be a farce became an even bigger farce than anticipated. I have attended and supported Take Back the Night in the past (and I hope to do that again this Fall) but I would never attend a "Slut Walk" or support such an event. There are better ways of spreading an anti-crime message, and violence is never under any circumstances the answer to offensive speech.