An interesting juxtaposition of events has just come to my attention.
First, from a piece yesterday at CNN:
A police officer in Canada who reportedly advised women “to avoid dressing as sluts,” has sparked a worldwide campaign against sexual violence, with protest marches planned in several cities.
In April this year thousands of women, many deliberately dressed in miniskirts and lingerie, took part in the first “SlutWalk” protest in Toronto, Canada. They were reacting to comments made in January by the officer who was speaking to students at the city’s York University about community safety following a wave of sexual assaults on the campus.
According to local media reports, he said: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
Though the officer in question was later reprimanded and an apology issued, his comments were posted on the internet, inspiring similar protest movements across the world via Twitter and Facebook.
A statement by organizers of a forthcoming SlutWalk protest in London read: “Not only was this a ridiculous and inaccurate statement (women wearing trousers get raped. So do women wearing tracksuits, t-shirts, jeans, jumpers, skiing jackets and burqas), it was incredibly damaging to women around the world, painting them as perpetrators — rather than victims — of a disgusting, violent crime.”
Organizers have also stressed the need to reclaim the word “slut” as a source of pride rather than shame. According to the SlutWalk Toronto website, women have historically suffered under the burden of this derogatory label.
“Whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound so we’re taking it back. ‘Slut’ is being re-appropriated.”
Now we go on to the New York Times, who yesterday published this piece:
Founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has 8,655 volunteers and trainees, as young as 21 and as old as 86, serving in 77 countries. For most, service is, as the agency’s Web site boasts, “a life-defining leadership experience.”
But from 2000 to 2009, on average, 22 Peace Corps women each year reported being the victims of rape or attempted rape, the agency says. During that time, more than 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers reported sexual assaults, including 221 rapes or attempted rapes. Because sexual crimes often go unreported, experts say the incidence is likely to be higher, though they and the Peace Corps add that it is difficult to assess whether the volunteers face any greater risk overseas than women in the United States do.
On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will convene a hearing to examine what its chairwoman, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, called “serious crimes” committed against Peace Corps volunteers, including murder; in announcing the hearing, her office cited reports of “gross mismanagement of sexual assault complaints.”
Lois Puzey, whose daughter Kate was murdered in 2009 while posted in Benin, will testify. So will Ms. Smochek, now a board member of First Response Action, a fledgling advocacy group founded by another former volunteer, Casey Frazee. Ms. Frazee was sexually assaulted in South Africa in 2009 and came home, she said, determined to not “let the Peace Corps toss me off like I was an isolated incident.”
In an interview Monday, the director of the Peace Corps, Aaron S. Williams, said he was committed to revamping the agency’s practices to create a more “victim-centered approach.”
In other words, the Peace Corps, according to The New York Times, has allegedly adopted a blame the victim mentality when it comes to sexual assaults perpetrated against its volunteers.
So… would it be wrong to suggest that what the Peace Corps needs is… well… more sluts?
I could be wrong in that conclusion so I’m seeking help on this but if SlutWalk is about taking back the word slut and turning the word into something more positive, all while standing in support of victims who are blamed for sexual assaults… then I’m thinking the Peace Corps’ problems are best solved, in this context, by recruiting more sluts.
You folks help correct my logic.