It has been a tepid Summer of Sluts.
Organizers of the first SlutWalk in Toronto might have hoped that drawing attention to the common-sense but politically taboo remarks of a Toronto policeman would ignite a blazing rage in women across the world who’d simply “had enough” of men who believe that sexually provocative attire is meant to be sexually provocative. But it didn’t. Average women didn’t take to the streets and demand men stop leering at their heaving cleavage or panty-revealing mini-skirts. Just as grown men know that no one will take them seriously if they walk around with their dicks hanging out (dick display is apparently what cell phones are for) smart, beautiful women know how to use clothing to attract attention when they want it, and cover up when they want to elicit an intelligent conversation. Several women around the world have publicly questioned the wisdom of these walks, and wondered aloud if average women would truly benefit from this kind of petulant feminist activism.
Heartiste at Citizen Renegade noted early on that SlutWalkers tended to be fat or ugly hags and their proudly moobed fags. In city after city, the SlutWalk scene has looked more like a gay event than a display of outraged hausfraus and successful businesswomen. Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel were presumably unavailable to join their sisters on the streets, and Sara Palin never managed to break out a pair of her Naughty Monkey come-fuck-me pumps for one of the events. They’re all very busy and important women, so that’s understandable. In Seattle, as Mr. Price noted, it was the Trotskyite “Radical Women” who were able to attend.
I’ve been keeping an eye on developments concerning Portland’s SlutWalk. I even donated a Saturday afternoon and designed “Whoregon” t-shirts to help men welcome the sluts to Oregon.
Sadly, it seems that the strippers of Portland will not be sliding down from their poles and taking to the streets to show men, once and for all, that looking does not mean touching, even in the champagne room.
That’s because the Portland SlutWalk will be another lesbian parade.
It was a fresh-faced petunia named Abigail Vernon who first jumped on the bandwagon and decided that Portland should have its own SlutWalk. She got to work and aggressively promoted the idea on Facebook. However, she was inexperienced, and didn’t realize that the City of Portland was going to want a cut of the SlutWalk action. Abigail changed the date for the walk and tried to raise funds to pay for permitting. Even though there are over a million women in the greater Portland metropolitan area who may be at risk of suffering the burden of male sexual interest, she could only manage to scrape together a little over $300 bucks.
More experienced sluts stepped in and tried to help poor Abigail realize her dream of whoring it up downtown. However, on June 28th, they asked Abigail to “step aside” and issued a press release stating that they “refused to handle lack of understanding or care of race and class politics around sexuality and organizing with empathy or apathy.” I’ve pasted the documentation of this dramatic hen coup below for posterity.
For Immediate Release
June 28, 2011
Four individuals (Sterling Clark, Ryan Basille, Sophia St. James, and Abigail Vernon) came together with a shared interest in holding and facilitating a Slutwalk event in Portland, OR. Three of us, Sophia St. James, Ryan Basille, and Sterling Clark’s vision and history as community activists, and anti-oppression politics gelled quickly. Over the next two months, however, it became obvious that the team was not working well together and that our vision was not adopted by all as cohesive, fully inclusive, and decidedly understanding the class and race politics of significant importance to this event, epecially because it is happening in the state of Oregon. Considering these two factors, the three of us understood the subsequent need for us to continue our consciousness-raising work and to stand firm as anti-racist allies in this event. We did our best to bring the team into alignment on this issue and over time found this was not possible. As a result, we asked Abigail Vernon to step aside. In our late 20s and early 30s, we can only imagine what a daunting task this all could have been for someone as young as seventeen, with limited organizing experience. However, the three of us refused to handle lack of understanding or care of race and class politics around sexuality and organizing with empathy or apathy.
We would like to collectively express that we handled this matter as thoughtfully and privately as possible, until we felt an explanation was owed to our community and to the event itself. Many factors played into our decision, including: the misrepresentation of our organization and its mission, mismanagement of accounts holding the name of Slutwalk Portland, sponsorship communications while these accounts were under their control, and communications not handled thoughtfully as written by survivors and allies of survivors, slandering of members publicly, and dishonesty as to prior organizing experience.
We apologize to our communities, survivors, and allies for any confusion surrounding the conflicting event pages and multiple event dates. Upon the joining of forces at the inception of the group, we found the date had been selected at random by this member without permits.
We would like to sincerely thank our community for receiving this event so fully, enthusiastically, and lovingly! As a team of dedicated organizers who collectively are queer, sex workers, underemployed, class aware, anti-racist white allies, people of color, women identifying, cis-gender, non-cis gender identifying, survivors, allies, domestic violence advocates, and parents, we want to embrace all of the facets of these identities and more in our aim to represent and serve the diverse array of experiences reclaiming sexual identity, refusing rape culture, and revolting against sexualized violence as a means of policing gender and sexuality, reinforcing patriarchy, racism, transphobia, homophobia, fatphobia, and perpetuating the criminalized status of sex workers and women of color.
Clark, Sterling, Ryan Basille, and Sophia St. James. “Structural Changes – For Immediate Release.” http://slutwalkportland.com. Slutwalk Portland, 28 June 2011. Web. 21 July 2011. <http://slutwalkportland.com/structural-changes/2011/06/20/>.
Sophia St. James, Ryan Basille, and Sterling Clark are hardly suburban soccer moms.
Sophia St. James runs http://www.sophiastjames.com, which is NSFW. She describes herself as a “curvaceous, fun, playful, intelligent, lifestyle top heavy queer femme switch, well mannered, sassy, exotic, pervert with an insatiable hunger for all things sexual.” As far as I can tell, she fancies herself a fetish photographer and wants people of ALL GENDERS to come and help her produce poorly lit, trite pornographic images that belong on http://youarenotaphotographer.com/.
You can find Sterling Clark on MySpace under the name “amorous addictions.” She describes herself as a lesbian swinger from “la la land” as well as an “exotic panhandler/ love warrior/ dream builder.” Sterling appears to be (or have been) a member of “Portland’s Premiere All Queer Burlesque Troupe,” the Rose City Sirens.
There is less information available online about Ryan Basille, but on twitter she describes herself as a “Sex Workers’ rights advocate. GV, queer cultural worker” as well as a “Public policy and yoga enthusiast.” (On July 15, she tweeted that they had raised $1200.)
Here’s a photo of the girls (and a drag queen friend?) kicking off their SlutWalk promotional efforts at the Dyke March.
On June 7th, it was announced that SlutWalk Portland was being officially sponsored by qPDX—a local gay organization. It is co-sponsored by Casa Diablo, Portland’s only vegan strip club (A strip joint without roast beef curtains??), and Aslan Leather, a retailer that guarantees “the best in strap on sex.” REALLY NSFW.
The Portland Gay Pride festival was only about a month ago. I remember it, because I had to re-route a trip to the bookstore that day so that gays, lesbians and transsexuals could stomp around the city in (often) sexually explicit or revealing outfits. If you peruse this photo set, you’ll see that many gays and lesbians took the opportunity to dress like sluts.
The Portland SlutWalk isn’t a grassroots effort organized by average women, or even average feminists. It’s a lesbian parade, organized by professional lesbian exhibitionists and sponsored by a queer organization—and a strap-on company.
How many lesbian parades does Portland need?
SlutWalk is supposed to be about social stigmas that all women struggle with, but why is it only lesbians who care enough to get involved?
If SlutWalk was a movement for average women, spurred by a deeply felt need to comment on a persistent social problem, it would at least be interesting. If it were what it sounds like, it would be of particular interest to the average Joe. However, as another excuse for lesbian exhibitionism, SlutWalk Portland is just boring.
The best SlutWalk Portland has to offer the public is the comedy of dyke infighting and the drama of absurd far-left victim posturing. And maybe a few dirty pictures.
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