We’re So Sorry About “The Funny Thing About the Slutwalk”

Apr. 5, 2011

“Slutwalk” protest in Toronto, April 3, 2011

Let’s get this part out of the way: Since I became an editor at Thought Catalog in January, I took great pride in making sure that our website would be a space for all kinds of viewpoints. The articles we publish do not reflect the opinions of the editors. We simply want the website to promote conversation and a healthy exchange of ideas. I, for example, like that my feminist articles are sometimes placed next to a brocentric article about a threesome with two girls. It keeps things interesting. It makes us different.

That being said, we fucked up. Big time. Our post “The Funny Thing About The Slutwalk” was so offensive and quite frankly it’s a fucking shame it was ever published on Thought Catalog. (Full disclosure: I had no prior knowledge before it went up but that obviously doesn’t excuse it). We’re known for publishing controversial and contrary opinions. I’m obsessed with that. I like it, love it, want more of it. But this piece crossed the line in its victim-blaming and blatant misogyny. What’s even worse is that it was written by a woman which makes the whole thing even more disturbing and sad. The suggestion that victims of sexual assault are partially to blame for wearing revealing clothing is ludicrous, indicative of serious self-loathing and makes me want to vomit all over my computer screen. The writer seems to believe that she’s respecting herself by wearing more conservative clothing. In reality, however, she’s turning over her power to men and accepting this cycle of abuse. The idea that men have always been this way and that women have to adapt is so defeatist and in a way, allows these assaults to actually occur. If you think you’re respecting yourself and receiving a “Get Out of Rape Free” card by wearing demure clothing, you’re delusional.

Here’s what it comes down to: Any victim of sexual assault is in no way responsible for the attack. “Oh, I apologize that my super cute dress from Zara caused you to force yourself on me. Next time I’ll wear a burka!” As fucking if. How does anyone expect women to advance as a gender if we subscribe to these rules?

We had some amazing comments about the article and I’d like to feature some excerpts here:

Laura wrote:

You totally misunderstand how the word “slut” is typically used and how most rapes occur. Slut can be applied to any woman, regardless of how she is dressed -there is at best a tenacious connection to clothing – it’s more often used perjoratively against someone for reasons completely unrelated.

Second, in over 80% of sexual assaults, the perpetrator was a friend, relative or acquaintance of the victim, not a random person somehow unbearably attracted to her “slutty” attire. Rape is about power, not clothing. Telling women to dress differently does absolutely nothing to address the root causes, and it puts the blame on them. Women are assaulted regardless of the clothing they wear, and until we address the underlying social attitudes that makes some men think it’s okay to assault a woman, this will continue to occur.

Hank Single wrote:

The point, ultimately, is that rape is the rapist’s fault. The end. There are no excuses for murders – being that murder is very well defined and should be understood by anyone of accepted literate ages in the United States of America – and there are no excuses for rape, something that sadly, men and women seem to need constant help defining.

It does not matter what someone dresses like, where they walked to or home from, how the weather was, whether it was a Tuesday (big rape day, let me tell you); if either party says ‘whoa, stop it.’ or is prevented from saying anything by a roughly applied hand or drug, and sex happens? The non-restrained, not-listening party is now raping the other. The end.

Let’s review: when you rape someone, it’s your fault. You did it. You cannot be coerced into rape. Not because they have on a hot shirt. Not because it is Tuesday. Not because you ‘really wanted to and thought they wanted it, too’. It’s 2011. This shouldn’t be a discussion.

Hank’s right. This shouldn’t be a discussion and certainly not one we should have on Thought Catalog.

I apologize from the bottom of our heart. This whole shitstorm has made me sick and all I can really say is I’m so sorry for all of it. Truly. We hope to move forward and produce more thoughtful content in the future. TC mark

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