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SlutWalk DC was pretty fun, but a bit tamer than last year…

August 16, 2012, 12:06 AM

So this past Saturday, I participated in SlutWalk DC 2012.  You may recall that I covered SlutWalk DC in 2011.  SlutWalk’s goal is to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what a person is wearing (or not wearing).  Sexual activity requires the consent of all involved, and sexual activity without the consent of all involved is rape.  So in short: consent is key.  Consensual sex is sexy, but nonconsensual sex is rape.  And clothes are inanimate objects.  They cannot give consent for their wearer.

However, I was a little bit disappointed with the turnout on this one.  I thought that last year’s event was fairly well attended for a DC event with a local focus.  After all, SlutWalk in DC isn’t a national event.  Cities have their own local SlutWalk.  This wasn’t a bus-em-in event with a national scope like September 24, 2005 or January 27, 2007.  But this year, the crowd felt a bit smaller, both in Lafayette Park and at the Sylvan Theatre.  I also thought that the signs were less exciting and less creative than last year’s, and that things were generally a bit tamer overall than before.  I also noticed that the gender balance was a bit more skewed towards the female side than last year.  I expected a majority of the attendees to be female, but I felt like there were very few guys there this time.

On that last note, I think it’s very important for men to go to events like this because helps balance the message.  It helps send the message that rape and consent is a serious matter and important for everyone, and not just for women.  Men can also be the victims of nonconsensual sexual acts, and so the issue of consent is by no means something that only affects women.  Additionally, by having a good amount of men there, it also helps to prevent the event from being perceived by some, justified or not, as male bashing.  I didn’t get that perception during the event itself last year, but interestingly enough, I got that feeling when I was putting the photo set together at home several months after the event.  And I figured that if I got that vibe while working on the photo set, it would be reasonable to think that others might pick that unintended message up as well.  Thus in putting the photo set together, I deliberately tried to counter the perception that I was getting by including more photos that focused on sex-positivity or that had a more lighthearted message.  I definitely included some serious photos (particularly this one), but I tried to keep it balanced for the most part.  I think I was pretty successful in keeping the photo set’s mood light, but ultimately, you – the reader – will be the one to make the call about whether or not I was actually successful in this.

I mainly photographed during the event, but I also chose my outfit for this event carefully.  I wore my Blue Ranger shirt, which was what I was wearing when I posed for the camera in March, and also for the splash photo in June 2012.  I wore this because David Yost, the actor who played Billy (the MMPR Blue Ranger, and also my favorite Power Ranger), left the show due to harassment over his sexual orientation.  Thus by wearing the Blue Ranger shirt, it made a subtle statement that all sexual orientations are beautiful, natural, and accepted.  I’m sure that this point was lost on most folks, but those who commented on my shirt found out why I chose it and agreed with the sentiment.

And then of course, photos:

 

 

Cupcakes! I loved the signs on toothpicks in the cupcakes.
Cupcakes!  I loved the signs on toothpicks in the cupcakes.

 

Condoms being distributed for free at one of the tables.
Condoms being distributed for free at one of the tables.

So there you go, I suppose.  Not a bad event.  My only major complaint was that when everyone arrived at the Sylvan Theatre, the opening to the program was one of those bands where the music is so loud that you can’t hear anything they’re saying.  I don’t like calling any kind of music “noise”, but this stuff was so loud and so unintelligible that it could drown out a fire alarm.  It certainly drove me away from the area around the stage, that’s for sure.  That’s when I visited the tables, because the sides of the Sylvan Theatre blocked the sound enough that it was possible to carry on conversation in a normal voice to the side.  Having the speeches start first would have made more sense and kept the energy from the meeting place and the march going a little more.  That glorified noisemaker that passed for a band seemed off message, primarily because you couldn’t understand a word they were saying on account of their being so loud.  I’m told that the sign language interpreter was signing, “I can’t understand a word of what they’re saying,” while they were playing (I don’t understand sign language myself).

Otherwise, I think that SlutWalk in DC was a good event.  It celebrated human sexuality as something natural and normal, and also promoted mutual respect.  And I’m certainly looking forward to next year’s event.  I haven’t done enough activism lately (prior to this, the last demonstration I was at was the anti-Walmart demonstration), and so this was good to do.

Postscript: Funny... in discussing my choice of outfit for SlutWalk, I got to thinking about how for a number of years, my outfit of choice for these sorts of things was more or less "black". I'm pretty confident in saying that my black bloc days are over, since I feel as though I've outgrown the tactic in the way that it's normally used these days. Even if I do go with a bloc in the future, I'm wearing whatever and staying out of the middle of it. I've found that I'm most effective in messaging when I stay in photography mode at events, and then use the bully pulpit of Schumin Web to help amplify the messages at the events and also insert my own commentary on these matters. Plus you can get away with a lot more when you're not wearing black because the cops are too distracted watching the folks who are wearing black...

Categories: Activism