Panda Party! Last week, Marc suggested I put up a list of rules for Panda Party in a public document, so here it is. For those interested, that list plus the Turntable FAQ should give you a good grounding. It's now open to anyone with a Facebook account; no need to have a friend already using the service.
Today's Panda Party is dedicated to Slutwalk, which is coming to NYC tomorrow at noon at Union Square in Manhattan. I really like these pictures from Slutwalk in Argentina, where they call it Marcha de las Putas.
What I don't get about all the confusion about the Slutwalk methods and message in the U.S. is examples like this: Slutwalk's sense of humor and message is so obvious, so straightforward that it crosses borders without much struggle. If read the satellite list at the original, Toronto Slutwalk, you'll see that the march has expanded beyond culturally similar, English-speaking countries, but that's jumpinng language barriers with relative ease. This is because the message is actually simple and what women have been dying to say. This is a protest march that fits the "yes means yes" mentality. This is women saying, "I have every right to say yes to sex with who I want, to wearing what I want, to going to parties, to getting my education, to working in a male-dominated environment, to having interests that threaten anxious men's ideas of masculinity, to being butch or to be femme, to being single, to being out at late hours, to having a job that may not be so great but pays the bills, to being a sex worker, to having a less than virginal past, etc. None of these things mean you have a right to rape or sexually abuse me."
This year hasn't been a good one for that message. This year was practically designed to remind people of how rape isn't taken seriously by authorities and/or by the public if the victim is considered less than "worthy" for any of the above reasons. People still believe that the price of admission to a party, a boy's club, a sexually active life, a miniskirt is being groped, cat-called and raped.
I was just reading another example of this problem this morning, as Rebecca Watson came out about all the abuse that she's faced over Elevatorgate. Elevatorgate is a perfect example of the problem here; Rebecca made what should have been an uncontroversial point about how, because a woman enters a male-dominated space like atheist/skeptic circles doesn't mean she's an object whose personal space and privacy can be violated by anyone who wants to do it. Her critics disagree, and feel that simply being a female skeptic means that you have to forsake your right to dignity, safety, and quite possibly to declining sexual invitations that aren't going to be enjoyable for you. For her simple request that men not corner her in elevators and make her worry that she's about to be violently assaulted, she's been called the usual names. The message from these men are clear; women in the atheist/skeptic community have two choices, to either tolerate sexual harassment in silence or to leave the community. They believe the price of admission to what they believe it their club—after all, they're men!—is to be reduced to an object whose feelings about sexual interactions are irrelevant.
So I'm marching for people like Rebecca, whose sexuality is used as a weapon against her to silence her voice and keep all the plum spaces male-only. I'm marching for women like Nafissatou Diallo, who prosecutors still believe was raped but whose case was dropped because we really do hold rape cases to a much higher standard of proof than pretty much any other crime. I'm marching for the victim of the NYPD rape cops, who saw her abusers walk free in no small part because the jury just couldn't get past their disapproval that she had been drinking so much that night (I'd bet most of them have done the same a couple times in their lives). I marching for myself, and in memory for all the stupid names the rapist called me and weak excuses that he came up with for why he decided it was okay to crawl in bed with a sleeping woman who had absolutely not invited him. I'm marching for women whose access to the sidewalks is restricted by catcalls, who avoid taking the jobs they want because they know the men in those environments will react with sexualized hostility, who endure groping and catcalls at school as the "price" they pay just trying to get an education, who have to spend much of a night out monitoring each other's safety because men will corner your or slip drugs into your drinks, who try to make a living in the hard world of sex work and who know if they get raped, they have no recourse, who can't escape abusive marriages because people are so worried about wondering what's wrong with you that you married an abuser they forget to ask what's wrong with him that he hits and rapes you.
But first we party at the Panda Party. Because hey, part of the whole point is that we should have fun without being guilted, abused, or shamed for it. One half of Slutwalk is to say that we shouldn't be forced to suffer, and the other half is to say that we should be allowed to be free to do our thing.