Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/674/12189
The Socialist 8 June 2011 |
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Fighting back against sexism and discrimination
Slutwalk protests: fighting back against sexism and discrimination in Newcastle, photo E. Brunskill (Click to enlarge)
"Yes means yes! No means no! Whatever we wear, wherever we go!" was the chant as women and men took to the streets of Newcastle on 4 June in a lively 'slutwalk' protest.
The demo's placards, such as "My clothes aren't my consent" were an expression of the anger felt. Newcastle's 'slutwalk' organiser, Lizi Gray, explained that she had seen an article in the Guardian.
Slutwalk protests, photo E. Brunskill (Click to enlarge)
Initially she'd thought the name a bit strange, but when she had read the background, about a Toronto police officer saying that to avoid rape women should stop dressing like sluts, she decided something needed to be done in Newcastle to highlight the sexism.
The Newcastle demo, like those staged in other cities worldwide, encouraged any gender to participate.
Young men joined in with the chants, and one held a banner declaring: "Another man against rape."
Pete Redpath, a PCS young members network officer (speaking in a personal capacity), said he hadn't known about the protest until four days ago, but immediately agreed to come along.
Slutwalk protests in Newcastle, photo E. Brunskill (Click to enlarge)
Pete commented: "Here's a thought - why not blame the rapist?"
Many of the young people on the demo will be questioning why sexism and discrimination are an inescapable aspect of capitalist society. Protests such as this, uniting young men and women, can lead to a search for an alternative - a socialist alternative.
About 250 angry women of all ages and also a good number of men gathered in Cardiff to march against the myth that rape is caused by what women wear. The demonstrators were also incensed that justice minister Ken Clarke has implied that some forms of rape are 'less serious'.
Slutwalk protests: fighting back against sexism and discrimination in Newcastle, photo E Brunskill (Click to enlarge)
Unfortunately, the rally at the end of the march was non-political; expressing the anger about how women are treated but not explaining why. Also, the impact of the government's cuts on vital services in our communities and on much-needed services for women was not mentioned.
Socialists will continue to explain to a new generation of women that the capitalist system causes the oppression of women and also to fight for a socialist society free from sexism and inequality.
The next Socialist Party Women's meeting in Wales is on 5 July in Cardiff - "It doesn't have to be like this - why sexism is not 'natural'". Call 029 2044 0571 for more details.