Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/675/12221
London 'Slutwalk' protest: Fight sexism, discrimination and cuts
"Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!" That was the call that rang out throughout London's 'Slutwalk' demonstration on 11 June. Angry chanting, homemade placards and lots of singing made this a vibrant display of opposition to the sexism recently displayed by police chiefs and politicians alike.
Around 5,000 women (and a significant number of men) joined the march with a clear message: Rape and assault are never the victim's fault - women should have the right to live their lives as they choose without fear of attack.
The demonstration was called as part of a wave of protests sparked by the remarks of a Canadian police officer, who, in a talk at a Toronto university, told female students that they should "stop dressing like sluts" in order to avoid being raped. The remarks ignited anger in women across continents with 'Slutwalks' organised in several countries.
On the demonstration there was massive anger at the Con-Dem government. Calls for justice minister Ken Clarke to resign - he infamously implied that some forms of rape are "less serious" - echoed throughout the crowds.
With the cuts affecting everything from women's refuges to public sector jobs, with women making up about two-thirds of public sector workers, and with anti-abortion groups invited to advise the government on sexual health, is it any wonder that the government is seen as bigoted and anti-women's rights?
In order to take this movement against sexism forward, a mass campaign is needed. This campaign must encompass the material issues women and all working class people are facing if it is to successfully challenge these attitudes. Most of the biggest gains that women won in the past have been made with the crucial involvement of trade unions and the labour movement.
As the government carries out unprecedented attacks on our living standards, with cuts which will disproportionately affect women, the most effective defence ordinary people have is the ability of workers to strike. On 30 June 750,000 public sector workers are expected to strike to defend pensions and against cuts. This will be a vital step in building the fightback against the Con-Dems.
Socialists recognise that sexism has its roots in class society and the demands of the capitalist system. We fight for a different kind of society - one without divisions on the grounds of class, race or gender, one run in the interests of the majority, not the tiny rich minority.
In The Socialist 15 June 2011:
Fighting the cuts
NHS news & campaigning
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis