On Saturday afternoon my husband and I joined a bunch of other men, women and children to march against victim-blaming in rape and sexual assault cases.

The march was one of many taking place all over the world. These marches are called Slutwalks and it originated after a police officer in Canada told a group of women that they should stop “dressing like sluts” to avoid getting raped.

Bizarre, right, seeing as women wearing burqas and grannies in flannel pyjamas get raped? Mentally disabled women in urine stained nightgowns get raped. Children get raped. Babies get raped. Men get raped.

No-one ever asks to get raped. Ever.

So when the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba said in a tweet that he would like to attend the Slutwalk because he might get lucky and radio personality Anele Mdoda tweeted “So well done on wanting to do something about rape but calling it the #Slutwalk...Huge Fail.” WITHOUT doing any research into the name, the cause or the origin, you can’t be too surprised that a lot of people still cling to many archaic and paternalistic ideas around rape. 

As Nechama Brodie pointed out in her column A slut by any other name, there seems to be “a surprising number of people online who appear to believe that:

a) sexual abuse is a very bad thing but that, and
b) calling something or someone a slut is worse.”

Anele reckons that she has never heard a man refer to a woman as a slut, but that women use that term for other women they despise.
Ms. Mdoda, I don’t know if I should call you very lucky because you seem to be surrounded by nice men, or if you are very unlucky because you’re surrounded by bitchy women?

Either way, let’s have a look at this word that has upset all these people so much that they decided to boycott a walk against rape.

•    A slut is a slatternly or dirty woman.
•    A slut is an immoral woman.
•    A slut is a sexually promiscuous woman.

And we live in a society that loves a good spot of slut-shaming. Does that mean that a slatternly woman who has frequent sex with multiple partners deserves to get raped? Does that mean that we will only be outraged if a nice ‘little’ housewife who bakes pies and has sex with her husband on Saturday nights gets raped?

It would seem that many people believe that you cannot be a sexually emancipated woman, with more than a few sexual partners (ie, a slut) and still expect people to respect your basic human rights. I suspect these are the same people who make shoplifting jokes when sex workers are raped.

So that’s why it’s called a Slutwalk. Because not only sober, monogamous housewives and good stay-at-home virgins get raped. Women, men and children of all walks of life, of all religions, of all socio-economic circumstances - and with various levels of sexual experience - get raped too.

And we should all be outraged by it. Every. Single. Time.

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