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“my clothes are not my consent”

August 9, 2011

Super protest sign, no?

via Colorlines , an article on SlutWalk and it’s relevance to women of color.

The excerpt below is from an interview Solomon has with Aishah Shahidah Simmons.

If those women feel empowered, especially if they’re rape surviors in fishnets, yes it will be a victory for them. But in terms of a broader movement I would feel sad. The goal is for it be multiracial and for us to be in chadors, as well as fishnets and suits. We want fully garbed Muslim women and sex workers. We definitely need transpeople of color there—they’re the most vulnerable to sexual violence. I come into this wearing as a rape and incest survivor, a lesbian, a feminst, and a woman of African descent. That’s what I’m going to talk about and I hope people of color are there to hear me.

Sigh. I am not disagreeing, really. I have nothing against what Simmons (or Solomon) have to say (in fact, I emphatically support it). I have no real sense of this, but if the SlutWalk hasn’t reached large swathes of brown/black people, then that deserves critique and questioning.

But somewhere, I am also wanting a conversation that talks about experiences of women of color beyond it’s connection to white people — or this mythical quantitative measurement of racial inclusion. If there was a SlutWalk in Malaysia (with a 99% brown, muslim women participants) does that somehow cancel out the racial disparity in a 99% white  Slutwalk in Philadelphia (a very racially diverse city). Obviously not. I mean, these numbers matter, but then… is that all we have to say about women of color and their experiences around sexual violence? Clearly not.

For instance, the mainstream queer movement in the US is overwhelmingly white and almost totally excludes transgender experiences.  But of course, queer women of color, trans-people have built their own histories and their own movements (and art and love) that might or might not include a larger white community. It doesn’t matter, in other words. It being the whiteness or the blackness or the brown-ness of it.

Anyway, I am not exactly sure what I am trying to say with all this. But the whole mess reminds me of what Langston Hughes said about the Harlem Renaissance.

We younger Negro artists now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they aren’t, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too… If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how and we stand on the top of the mountain, free within ourselves.

Also, I have babbled about slutwalk in the recent past here.
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