Tag Archives: sexual assault

AP writes laziest possible article about SlutWalks

6 May

Woah hoh hoh, everybody! Sluts! They get around! Get it?

And sluts, they are provocative! Sluts walking around being provocative! 

What is this movement’s provocative message?

That no woman ever deserves to be raped because of how she dresses. Yes, AP headline editor, that is their hugely “provocative” message. We know, we know, that’s right up there with STFU JUSTIN BIEBER DID NOT GET A HAIRCUT on the “holy-shit-o-meter.” Frankly, we would have gone with “outraging message” because “provocative” doesn’t really cover it.

Some women and men who protest dress in nothing more remarkable than jeans and T-shirts, while others wear provocative or revealing outfits to bring attention to “slut-shaming,” or shaming women for being sexual, and the treatment of sexual assault victims.

Really? So what were the people wearing non-rapey clothes doing? Were they confused? They sure weren’t doing as good a job as the provocative sluts. It’s okay to call them that, right? Because it’s not like they’re protesting the misconception that a woman should be held responsible when some random yahoo thinks according to his “slut-scale” that her attire provokes him so much that she’s allowed to be raped.

Or maybe it’s just that the writer, Russell Contreras, missed the entire concept of the protest and decided “provocative” was a good word to use. What other questionable decisions did he make?

“It was taking the blame off the rapist and on the victim,” said Nicole Sullivan, 21, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an organizer of the SlutWalk planned Saturday in that city. “So we are using these efforts to reclaim the word `slut.'”

Why does he quote an organizer who can’t construct this sentence properly? Were there no other organizers or quotes?

“The event is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault,” said Siobhan Connors, 20, of Lynn, Mass., another Boston organizer. “It’s to bring awareness to the shame and degradation women still face for expressing their sexuality … essentially for behaving in a healthy and sexual way.”

Okay, our writer found another one. How might he follow up this quote with some more interesting details or context?

The events are similar to “Take Back the Night” rallies and other marches that aim to bring attention to sexual violence. But there are key differences.

SlutWalkers have danced to hip-hop, worn T-shirts with the word “slut” and held signs that read “sluts pay taxes.” Some women have skated around on Rollerblades in lingerie, while their male supporters wore shirts reading, “I love sluts.”

Oh, right. The “Take Back the Night” rallies are different in “key” ways, but he’s not going to tell you any of them! Our writer gets an F on his compare-and-contrast essay section. Was there no hip-hop at TBTN rallies? Definitely no sluts in lingerie on rollerblades, apparently. But these things are “key,” for sure.

And then on and on with a bunch of other lazy reporting in which Mr. Contreras looks up the Facebook pages of other marches and notes banal details like, “In San Francisco, SlutWalk organizers want to make their protest a family event” because the organizers, like most other kinds of protest organizers, want as many people as possible to show up. Yet it ends up sounding slightly scandalous, because oh my God sluts and sluts want to rub themselves all over your children, so don’t forget to bring the kiddies.

The article is framed by the recent controversy over a Toronto police officer who told a campus safety seminar full of students that women should not dress like sluts in order to avoid being raped. Yet the article never again touches on why this is an inappropriate thing to say. It is important to explain and connect what the officer said with organizer statements like, “The event is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault,” because it is not obvious to everyone. You need to explain why, from the protest organizers’ perspective (and the sane human one), a person telling women not to dress like sluts in order to avoid rape means that this person is implying it is then okay to assault sluts and, more broadly, creating an environment that blames women for assault because the scale for what makes a “slut” is totally arbitrary and, as we have seen, even an 11-year-old girl can be deemed a slut by a major news organization.

There are no interviews with sexual assault survivors with relevant experiences, no quotes from any of the other protesters, no interviews with other campus safety experts with context about attitudes towards sexual assault victims, no mention of the recent government investigation of Yale for ignoring campus assault problems, no statistics or other context about the incidence of mishandled sexual assault cases based on the victim’s attire or perceived sexual reputation.

You could argue that not all of those things would be relevant to a story about these protests, but surely at least one of them would have been.