This won’t be very coherent, it’s been a fucking long week.
Last night, one of the SlutWalk Facebook pages posted this image [Consent is sexy, bro. You should ask first.] on their wall. Several people commented that they find the message “consent is sexy” to be problematic. Comments included:
- To me, it’s mainly saying, ‘hey you’re sexy when you don’t rape me’. I don’t feel as though ‘not raping’ and ‘sexy’ should be conflated, ever.
- Consent isn’t sexy, consent is something women should be able to take for granted as a baseline dynamic that goes without saying. […] The only reason it’s being framed as “sexy” is because we live in a rape culture that sexualises dominance and males who are out of control with their “desire”.
- [S]uggesting ‘consent is sexy’ is like saying ‘hey when you ask for consent it’s sexy’. The opposite of asking for consent is rape. […] it seems to suggest we have to stroke the egos of males and show them how sexy they are when they don’t rape us.
This is the point at which a moderator commented, under the SlutWalk account, “Oh it’s troll Slutwalk night!”
I’m not naming the SlutWalk in question, both because I don’t think it serves any great purpose, and also because they have now deleted the post. I only screencapped up to my first comment, which read:
Uh,I also have significant issues with the “consent is sexy” message. Consent isn’t “sexy”, it’s a basic right and we are all entitled to give or withhold it without repurcussions.
Also, accusing anyone who doesn’t agree with a particular post of “trolling” makes me highly uncomfortable, personally. SlutWalk is no more a monolith than feminism is, and I’d like to think we can have respectful debates and discussions without being shut down — because surely we get enough of that elsewhere?
I want to be really clear here—I’m not trying to be a big meanie tattle-tale about this particular SlutWalk page, or whichever moderator was engaging with us. But I do think it’s really important to be aware of our accountability. Whether it’s as organisers of a large movement, or as feminists, or just as people who don’t want to be assholes, it’s really important to remember that no one is immune to fucking up. And if you really don’t know how you’ve fucked up, it is entirely possible to engage in respectful discussion without automatically defaulting to dismissing the arguments against you.
Because at the end of the day, the fact that you make a concentrated effort not to fuck up, and succeed 99% of the time, that doesn’t actually make it any less offensive that other 1% of the time. And a basic tenet of being a decent human being is holding yourself to the same accountability that you hold others to—recognising when you’ve upset people, intentionally or not, and taking steps to understand and rectify.
It’s not that hard, I promise.