Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slutwalk Toronto & the Third Wave

I was fascinated by yesterday’s Slutwalk that took place in Toronto, and sorry that I wasn’t able to attend.

Slutwalk in Toronto yesterday. Image: scathinglywrongrightwingnutz.com

The walk attracted around 1,000 people and was arranged in part as a protest against comments by police Constable Michael Sanguninetti who, while speaking to students at York Unviersity, said “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

Women were outraged, and rightly so. It is an outrageous suggestion that women should bear the full responsibility in a case where sexual assault occurs. Even if she is dressing ‘like a slut’, surely the man must take responsibility for his own actions. I mean it’s hard to believe that Sanguinetti was actually serious.

With women brandishing placards that read ‘Slut Pride’ among other things, Slutwalk also has a refreshing third-wave feminist ring to it. Third wave feminism, comes after first and second wave, and is more focused on expression and acceptance of cultural, ethnic and sexual orientation than the previous two. At the same time, the third wave seems to have less of the defiance, the passion, the causes that first and second wave feminists stood for.

Les Fermieres Obsedees in performance. Image: idata.over-blog.com

So Slutwalk was a great expression of passion by the women who took part. And it seems to be talking off, with upcoming Slutwalks across Canada in Sackville, Yellowknife, Ottawa, Vancouver and Hamilton. And in the States in Boston and Dallas.

I wonder if the organizers could harness the power of Slutwalk to generate some fire under women’s issues in the current Canadian federal election? I bet Michael Ignatieff would take some time to listen…

Speaking of feminism, one of my recent discoveries is the Quebec collective Les Fermieres Obsedees, a Quebec art collective made up of two artists, Annie Baillargeon and Eugenie Cliché.

Les Fermieres Obsedees in performance. Image: lieu-ressource-ornicart.over-blog.com

They seek to create, in their um, unconventional performances, an effect that speaks to the mass standardization and lethargy of contemporary society. The group, always in uniform - but never pretty - create cross-disciplinary performances that are a clash of dance, theatre, music and visual art.

I hope they come to Toronto soon….