Today, for my 43rd birthday, and on Mother’s Day to boot, I’ll be speaking at Appleton’s first Slutwalk. Here’s a preview of what I’m planning on saying:
Thank you so much, VDAY, for having the ovarios to put on this event here in Appleton.
For those of you who don’t know, Slutwalk began only last year in April, in Toronto, when a police officer admitted that he was told he wasn’t supposed to say that women shouldn’t dress like sluts so as not to be victimized. And by that, he meant they should dress in ways that hid their bodies in ways our misogynist, sex-obsessed culture would find acceptable. Aside from the impossibility of being able to decide what “dressing like a slut” means in any culture, he put together the idea that somehow women’s bodies are at fault for the violence and slut shaming perpetrated against them.
They are not.
Women’s bodies are beautiful and should be seen, and in a culture that had its act together – on both violence and sexuality – police officers wouldn’t say such stupid things. Mind you: he wasn’t trying to be hateful. His words, no doubt, came out of something like compassion for the women who he had seen victimized while doing his job. He wanted – like so many of us do – to keep women safe from sexual assault, from trauma, from fear.
But what many men don’t know is that it’s not what kind of clothing a woman’s body wears that has anything to do with it. It’s what a woman’s body IS that causes us all these troubles: bodies full of desire, desiring, desired; bodies of curves and straight lines and freckles and hair. Bodies of skin and fat and muscle and bone; bodies of organs, of hearts and brains and cervixes.
What I love is that every day of my life I can wake up & say that I was born with the one body part whose only use is pleasure. But if you think about it, which parts of us aren’t? Brains, hair, hands, hearts, breasts, legs, feet and elbows – the skin itself is about pleasure. Freud had this theory that we were all polymorphously perverse – meaning that when we’re born, we’re so awash in the pleasure of having a body that every touch, ever breeze, brings us rolling waves of pleasure and that the process of getting older is learning to move some of that sensitivity to a few precious locations – mostly so, as he figured it, we were going to get anything done at all. And so our nerves, so adept at finding pleasure, became located in our nipples and tongues, our fingers and toes, the backs of knees and the backs of our necks, our lips – both sets of lips – and of course in our genitals too. And somehow we managed to stop touching our selves long enough to write books and build buildings.
But women are a kind of warm, breathing repository of all of that pleasure, and it’s hard not to see, especially not in spring. Our sexual selves come out of hiding in the spring, and so our clothes come off – even here in Wisconsin, where “spring” and “warm” are not always the same thing – because we feel the joy of having bodies, of desiring and being desired. Continue reading “Slutwalk: Appleton”