Feminism

Slutwalk London and Assange

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As a previous organiser of Slutwalk London, I feel it is necessary to speak out against the recent decision by the current organiser to support Julian Assange. I am deeply disappointed and hurt that our local movement has been used to publicly back a celebrity accused of rape.

Slutwalk, for me, is an anti-rape movement. Last year's march, which I organised with two other women, was an extremely positive and empowering event. We stood, 5000 strong, and there were women, men, children, LGBTQ people, disabled and able bodied people, young and old, people of various ethnic and class backgrounds, and we were all singing the same song, fighting the same battle. It was unlike anything else I've ever experienced. Many people spoke to us that day, and I was overwhelmed by how many people had been helped by this international movement, how many women and men had been blaming themselves, had been hiding their pain, who had finally been able to stand up and shout about it. Slutwalk gave them a platform to own their experiences and get really fucking angry about them.

So it is devastating to me to see the movement we built in London being used in this way. I feel personally betrayed, and completely understand why other followers of the movement feel angry, hurt or distressed. After helping so many rape survivors, seeing Slutwalk London publicly disown two survivors is sickening. Julian Assange and Wikileaks are not synonymous: you can support Wikileaks and still understand that someone accused of rape should stand trial. As far as I'm concerned, Wikileaks is about honesty and transparency. They should have disowned Assange the moment he refused to go through the same court procedure every other accused person goes through. No special treatment. Especially not for celebrities accused of rape.

So to my fellow slutwalkers, I would like to say I'm sorry and I hope that your support of Slutwalk as an international movement isn't affected by this decision by Slutwalk London. Anastasia Richardson, one of this year’s organisers, has taken responsibility for the statement - I hope she hasn’t done so too late. This movement is too important to throw away on the misguided views of one person. Let’s not allow Slutwalk London to be marred by rape apologism. Let’s remember how it felt that day last June, and this year in September, when people came together in London in the fight against rape and said ‘enough is enough’. We are a part of this because no one is ‘asking for it’. We are a part of this because if one of us is a slut then we all are. And we will keep this fight going until we are heard.

Caitlin Hayward-Tapp

~An Organiser of Slutwalk London 2011~

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