Hi, everyone. This is Jessica Skolnik from the organizing team.
As an anti-racist white cisgendered
feminist activist, I've been reading the legitimate criticisms from folks of the SlutWalk movement as an exclusive movement that privileges certain experiences over others and have been thinking a lot about what it means to be an ally, to make sure our event is a comfortable space for as many folks as possible, and how not to perpetuate the oppressive structures that have often characterized white-led feminist movements in the past.
I believe firmly that examining privilege, owning privilege, understanding how it manifests itselves in our lives and not looking away from it is incredibly important to being an ally. A really good article that I read and identify with is this one (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/22/957012/-White-Privilege-Diary-Series-#1White-Feminist-Privilege-in-Organizations
) from Hepshiba's Pad. Another thing that Hepshiba mentions and that I find crucial is the idea of stepping back and listening - instead of bulldozing over folks with your ideas of what it means to be a good ally, listen to and ask folks what they need from you and what you can do to help. Sometimes, it means stepping up. Sometimes, it means stepping back. We have no way of knowing unless we ask, listen, and engage. It's not easy to look your privilege in the face, but it is entirely necessary.
We mentioned who we are and some of the ways we're reaching out in our blog post on inclusivity and diversity just to provide some background, because these goals are important to us. It was in no way meant to be a defensive post that denied the reality of a world in which oppression manifests in complicated ways.
As mentioned in our previous blog entry on the word 'slut,', we as organizers have jettisoned the idea of reclaiming 'slut' as an organizing goal as it is simply too problematic for so many people (I personally find it a goal that doesn't work for me, though it may work for some others on the organizing team) - as some of the thoughtful criticisms have mentioned, reclamation is rooted in certain experiences and certain privileges (being comfortable enough to apply that word to yourself without fear of reprisal or violence, for instance). Instead, I see the contentious name of our event - SlutWalk - as a name that both joins us to work being done by other organizers (including the original Toronto organizers) and gets at the heart of how sexual double standards and rape culture are connected (for instance, how perceived sexual availability is used to invalidate allegations of sexual assault). Going forward we may or may not keep the name, but since it's on our permit and our event's only ten days away I feel as though interrogating the name and examining its implications is a useful thing to do in the meantime.
While we are joined to the other SlutWalks by our goal of ending rape culture and looking at interpersonal violence through a lens that values and understands the great variations in human sexuality and the ownership of folks over their own consensual sexual decisions, we are, as mentioned previously in the blog, organizing on our own, as all the SlutWalks do, and we may have different priorities and ways of getting to that end goal than the other SlutWalks. And we need and value your input! There are only five of us on the organizing team, and we in no way want to be the figureheads of a movement (what kind of egalitarian movement has figureheads, anyway? We're all leaders!)
I actually see SlutWalks not as a movement in and of themselves, but as one small piece of a large movement that's been going on for a very long time in many different forms - in protests, in nonprofit site-centered provision of direct services, in community organizing, and so forth. We have an opportunity because of the media attention and energy centered around the SlutWalks to bring folks together, to talk about what the movement to end rape culture will look like going forward, and that's one of the major things I signed on to organize around. We're looking into the idea of hosting a forum of some kind after the event on June 4, and we need your help! We want to know what you want that forum to look like, concerns you want to specifically address, and whether anyone would be interested in moderating and organizing that forum. Email us at email@example.com
with your thoughts!
With solidarity and love,
: Jennifer PatiñoAge
: West Lawn
How do you promote sex positivity in Chicago?
Under the pseudonym of Jane Sez, I write a bi-monthly column for Gozamos.com called "Unzipped" which focuses on increasing awareness, inclusiveness, and enjoyment of all the varieties found in human sexuality. Like all good sex, I try to be playful and conscious of safety--which ranges from proper protection from STI's, the importance of establishing consent, and of using products made with body safe materials. Other than that, I write erotic poetry, stand up for my vagina every chance I get, and have mind blowing sex. What sort of changes would you like to see in Chicago in regards to sex positivity?
I would like to see quite a few things. I'd like to see SB1619 pass in Illinois, which would get rid of abstinence "until marriage" education in order to focus on informing teens about contraception and safe sex. I think pushing marriage on teens is just totally irresponsible. It reinforces the stereotype that if you have sex before marriage, you're damaged goods. Guh! That's so psychologically harmful. I'd also like to see more humane, less discriminatory immigration laws which would make it easier for victims of human trafficking to overcome their fear of the authorities and seek help. And lastly, I'd like to see more education that focuses on establishing consent with partners before sexual encounters. The current misconception is that we need to focus on avoiding becoming victims, which as we all know, has the effect of blaming victims for the actions of their rapists. What we need to do is teach men and women from the time that they are boys and girls how important it is to make sure that we are not coercing our sexual partners--and if we want to dominate a partner it should be done within the constraints of consensual S&M practices.
With regards to the Chicago Police Department, specifically, I'd like to see more efforts to avoid discrediting or blaming the victim. A friend of mine was a victim of sexual battery and after repeated phone calls for aid, the police woman who finally arrived at the scene referred to her as having been "the perfect victim" for not having screamed at her attacker. Seriously??? This kind of shaming behavior from the police has the effect of increasing emotional distress and reducing the likelihood of reporting a similar attack in the future--instead of rewarding the bravery it took to make a report in the first place. Why do you support SlutWalk Chicago?
I am so super excited to be a part of this movement to educate the masses that it's not okay to continue to blame the victim to get away with rape. Men (and some women) use all kinds of excuses for taking advantage of people and I'm glad we're taking a stand and calling for no more excuses. It doesn't matter what you were wearing, what your sexual history is, what you were drinking--if you said no, or if you were not able to give consent, that's RAPE.Also I'm crocheting a super slutty naked dress to wear to the Slutwalk. You're gonna love it!Jennifer's Links
"Jane Sez" on GozamosDo you want to be SlutWalk Chicago's next Sex Positive Chicagoan? Send us a picture and your answers to these questions!
There has been a good deal of media coverage of the SlutWalks (which are all individually organized) that focuses on the reclamation of the word ‘slut’ as a central goal of the movement. It is not one of SlutWalk Chicago’s central goals. Though we recognize that for some people self-identifying as a ‘slut’ can be a positive and transformative experience, the ability to choose how one relates to that word is often a privilege granted by experience and background. We are aware that it is most commonly used as a powerfully negative slur and are aware of the implications that negativity has on how the word can be used, particularly for women of color, transpersons and other marginalized peoples.
To that end, we stand with people who wish to self-identify as ‘sluts’ just as we stand with people who do not wish to or cannot engage with that word in a positive manner, and we welcome all of those perspectives in participants at our event. We believe that the use of the word in our event title connects us with the pioneering work done by the Toronto organizers, but we also use it in our event title to promote dialogue about the connection between sexual double standards, shame and the many ways survivors are blamed for their own assaults by systemic forces and individuals following an assault. Our central goal is to change our culture to one that does not explain away rape and one that does not seek to regulate the bodies and consensual behavioral choices of all peoples.
One of the major criticisms that the SlutWalk movement has faced is the argument that such an event is oriented toward the participation of straight, white, cisgender women. As a team, SlutWalk Chicago absolutely does not deny that there is truth to be found in these claims. Undeniably, the participation of minority groups has been overlooked in the planning of some of these events.
I am writing this post to remind everyone that each SlutWalk is individually organized. The SlutWalk Chicago team is very committed to making our June 4 event a space where people from all walks of life feel comfortable, welcome, and represented.
Some background about our organizational board: we are a five person team composed of men, women, queer people, people with disabilities, sexual assault survivors, people who identify as sluts, and people who do not. Some of us are college educated. Some of us are not. Our ages range from late teens to mid thirties. We come from a variety of neighborhoods across the city, and have contacts in even more.
Making SlutWalk Chicago an inclusive event is as important to us as it is to you. Here are some of the things that we are currently working on to achieve this goal:
-We are working as a team to make sure that the event is advertised in areas that are typically overlooked in the planning of events like SlutWalk. We have contacts in nearly every neighborhood within the city, as well as many Chicago suburbs.
-We are currently in the process of booking speakers. While SlutWalk Chicago does not endorse tokenizing minorities, we are making a conscious effort to extend the opportunity to speak to people from a number of communities and subcultures. In selecting speakers, we are taking special consideration to put together a diverse, compelling, and interesting series.
-We are in the process of putting together a Spanish language flier. Our Spanish website will be up within the week.
-An ASL signer will be interpreting the speaker series at the event.
-We have allied with a number of community groups that cater to a diverse cross-section of people from throughout the city.
Obviously, we can’t force people to attend our event. Nor would we want to. We are taking all possible steps, however, to build an inclusive movement that is representative of the city of Chicago.
If you have any suggestions for speakers, or have any suggestions regarding how we can make SlutWalk Chicago an even more inclusive event, PLEASE drop us an email at SlutWalkChicago@gmail.com
. We welcome your involvement, your suggestions, and your thoughts. A critical dialogue is pertinent to the formation of a worthwhile movement.
This is an announcement to let everyone know that we will be hosting two prep nights
to make signs and banners for SlutWalk. Both of the events will be at Noble Tree Coffee and Tea
, one of our awesome allies that has generously donated space. Come out and meet some sex-positive activists in the city of Chicago! Prep Night #1Where: Noble Tree Coffee and Tea on 2444 N. Clark St.
When: Sunday, May 29, 2011 @ 7:00pm
Prep Night #2
: Noble Tree Coffee and Tea
on 2444 N. Clark St.When
: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 @ 7:00pmFacebook eventThings you should bring:
-Cardboard/poster board/banner making materials
-Glue/packing tape/duct tape
-Printed text and images to use on your poser
-Scissors and box cutters
We will also provide some art supplies, as well as some inspiration. See you there!
: Clarisse ThornAge
: Hyde Park
How do you promote sex positivity in Chicago?
Well, I'm a writer and I've published a number of sexuality-related articles online. My main blog is at clarissethorn.com
, plus I have a sex and gender link blog with Time Out Chicago
. I've got a few Chicago-local activities, though .... My big thing is that I co-created the Sex+++ Sex-Positive Documentary Film Series at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Every second Tuesday of the month, we show a documentary about sexuality and host a discussion afterwards. It's free, and there are snacks... everyone should totally attend. We've shown films about everything from BDSM, to gay parenting, to butch lesbians of color, to sex worker activist organizing ... seriously, just attend. The next Sex+++ film night is May 10 and it's going to be totally awesome.
Here's the Facebook event
Hmm, what else? I'm into BDSM, so I'm around local BDSM events sometimes, too. I also volunteer at your friendly neighborhood BDSM museum, The Leather Archives & Museum-- right now they have me in charge of a really interesting project for which I'm collecting interviews with people who practice BDSM, but don't identify as part of the BDSM community.
Lately I've been really excited to hear about the development of a new Chicago coalition called Sexuality Health Education to End Rape (SHEER). I'm a certified rape crisis counselor, and sexual assault is obviously an incredibly important issue -- but I really want to encourage people to focus on the positives of sex, not just the ways it can be used negatively. SHEER is trying to build a holistic approach, one that recognizes and works against the horror of rape while valuing and promoting all forms of consensual sexuality.
Last but not least, I've been known to give lectures and workshops on a few different sex-positive topics.
What sort of changes would you like to see in Chicago in regards to sex positivity?
The entire city should show up to the Sex+++ film series ... the museum will collapse under everyone's weight, or possibly there will be a riot.
More seriously, I'd love to see more cross-pollination and solidarity between different sexuality communities -- that's a lot of what Sex+++ is trying to achieve. And in general, I'm a fan of trying to improve sex education and open up conversation about sexuality and consent whenever possible.Why do you support SlutWalk Chicago?
Everyone deserves to feel safe, and everyone deserves to have their boundaries respected. That's true for people of all genders, and it's even true for sluts! I hate that people who have a lot of sex, a lot of partners, who are known for having sex in certain ways, or who simply dress in certain ways are seen as having no boundaries. SlutWalk is all about questioning that; therefore, I love SlutWalk. Plus, I can't wait to see what everyone wears.Clarisse's Links
-Sex+++ Film Series Facebook page
-Clarisse on TwitterDo you want to be SlutWalk Chicago's next Sex Positive Chicagoan? Send us a picture and your answers to these questions!
Calling all grrrls, artists, and designers! Submit your DIY Design to SlutWalk Chicago's DIY Poster Contest
. Winning flyer will be mass-circulated, guerilla style, around Chicago. Winner will also receive a prize package from our allies.Rules:
1. Flyer must have the date of the event (June 4th), as well as a plug for our website (slutwalkchicago.org
2. Must be self-made (interpret how you wish!)
3. Email submissions as an attachment (.JPG or .PDF, please) to firstname.lastname@example.org
by May 20, 2011.
All participants are encouraged to attend our GUERILLA STREET PERFORMANCE CAMPAIGN on May 21. Inspired by the grrrlVirus flyering campaign that's helped SlutWalk Toronto launch a global movement, participants are encouraged to use creativity as an act of protest and to make a statement.
More contest info on our flyer contest Facebook event page
! Fuck shit up, make flyers!
: Meagan SarrattAge
How do you promote sex positivity in Chicago?I started my school's (Illinois Tech, right next to Sox stadium) first ever feminist group last year - Feminists United! The majority of my group's activities relate to sex, and making it a fun, easy to talk about thing on a campus that normally refuses to do just that. Last semester we hosted my school's first Take Back the Night march/rally, with a speaker from Porchlight Counseling Services (a non-profit that provides free counseling to college-aged survivors of sexual assault). We then put on a production of "Vagina Monologues" this February that allowed us to donate over $700 to this same organization. Our crowning achievement was my school's first Sex Week, however. It was amazing - I've never heard people talk about sex that freely on my campus, and I'm always a fan of getting to ask people if they want free condoms. ;)
On a more personal note, I've been working with my school's Dean of Students and Women's Services offices to create a sexual assault awareness segment in my school's freshman orientation schedule. The more people know and talk about sex, the better it is for everyone! I also revamped my school's Sex Tech newspaper column from a joke into a place where people could ask legitimate questions about sex that that they might not feel comfortable asking otherwise.
So... pretty much, I love sex, and I want other people to as well!
What sort of changes would you like to see in Chicago in regards to sex positivity?
I honestly think that we're super lucky to live in Chicago - an oasis of liberal politics within a sea of anti-sex, anti-choice politics and culture - and I think we're at a place where our next big step needs to be to work at bringing our thinking and groups to the people in the rest of Illinois and the Midwest. Although, that obviously doesn't mean we can be lax about our town; when groups think it's okay to put anti-choice, racist billboards in our South Side neighborhoods, it just reminds you that you can never stop fighting for pro-sex policies.Why do you support SlutWalk Chicago?
I think it's an amazing way to raise awareness about an issue that never really gets talked about outside of feminist circles - slut shaming, in a way that forces people to listen, but doesn't allow them to criticize us in the normal way, with cries of our lack of humor and prudishness. I'm so excited that SlutWalk is coming to Chicago, and I'm excited for all the controversy it's sure to stir up!Meagan's Links
-"My awesome friend Mohini's awesomely sex-positive Tumblr
-"A very cool feminist blog
written by the wonderful Elizabeth."
-"My group, FU's, lovely Facebook page
." Do you want to be SlutWalk Chicago's next Sex Positive Chicagoan? Send us a picture and your answers to these questions!
We are introducing a new weekly feature to the SlutWalk Chicago blog called "Sex Positive Chicagoans." Ever week, we will feature people from around Chicago that are working to make sex safer, more consensual, more open, more fun and just generally more sexy. With the Sex Positive Chicagoans feature, we hope to introduce awesome people from around Chicago, foster community, and illustrate ways that people can get involved in making and keeping our communities sex positive.
At this point, you are probably thinking, "Hey! I'm a sex positive Chicagoan! How do I go about getting featured on this blog?" I'm glad you asked! To be considered for our Sex Positive Chicagoans series, please send your answers to the below questions, along with a headshot of yourself, to SlutWalkChicago@gmail.com
. We will notify you if your interview is chosen!"Sex Positive Chicagoans" Interview Questions1. First and Last Name, Age, Neighborhood (or suburb) of Chicago in which you live
2. How do you promote sex positivity in Chicago?(Here you can talk about your job, your hobbies, things you do for others, things you do for yourself, anything! Nothing is too minor or too grand. SlutWalk Chicago does not believe this is any such thing as bragging-- talk about how great you are!)3. What sort of changes would you like to see in Chicago in regards to sex positivity?
(Here you can talk about legal changes you want to see, organizations you'd like to see formed, events you'd like to see happen, changes in culture you'd appreciate, anything!)
4. Why do you support SlutWalk Chicago?
Please include a headshot photo as well as links to any blogs, Twitters, or websites you want too see featured along with your interview!
Interviews will be chosen with regards to neighborhood and response diversity (i.e. we are not looking to feature people from the same neighborhood who work at the same organizations.)
SlutWalk Chicago is proud to announce the lovely and awesome Jocelyn Brown-- aka Clerical Error-- as our official event DJ. Some info about her:"Jocelyn Brown lives and works in Chicago. She was born two point five months early, and cheated death a few more times after that. She spends her days being unhealthily obsessed with music, literature, politics, and current events. Her mother is a prison librarian; her father is a machinist. They both speed-read and are impeccable dressers. Jocelyn has no kids, no man, no pets and is alright with all of these facts. She is an arts advocate, a DJ in training, a heavy sleeper, a social conduit, a hellcat and a damn fine typist. Sometimes she writes short stories for fun. She will totally smoke you at Rock and Roll Jeopardy, Scrabble, Wheel of Fortune and Family Feud."
More info on her website here
Look forward to speaker series and entertainment announcements soon!