Why Wasn’t Miley Cyrus Grand Mistress of the Chicago Slut Walk?


Last Saturday, “sluts” of all manner gathered in Chicago to let the world know that they refuse to be “victims.” They–the sluts and their “allies”–typically parade around in their underwear, or less, with handmade signs bearing such messages as “Drinking Was Not My Crime, Rape Was His” and “Your Ignorance is More Scandalous than my Promiscuity” and “My Outfit Has Nothing to Do with You.”

To my very great surprise, there was nary a reference to Miley Cyrus at the Windy City slutfest. No signs proclaimed her recent televised performance at a music awards show the apotheosis of slutdom. I wonder why?

Look, but don't judge.

Look, but don’t judge.


Is it possible that her image is one so holy that “sluts” dare not reproduce it?

To those of you who are as behind the times as I am, slut walks are a proud Canadian tradition, dating all the way back to 2011, that migrated to the United States in 2012. Participating in a slut walk means that you, haughty and defiant, declare that you are a slut and that you claim your right to appear in public in any state of undress you choose and not be judged. Canadian women took to the streets when a hapless police officer made the inane suggestion that women take a simple precaution against unwanted sexual advances by not “dressing like a slut.” Did he ever open a can of whup-ass!

Conflated in this naive notion are a murky my-body-myself brand of feminism, a conviction that drunkenness absolves you of any responsibility for your actions (although the same is not true of your hook-up’s inebriation), and a steadfast insistence that Daisy Dukes and a peek-a-boo bra constitute suitable all-occasion attire.

You lookin' at me?

You lookin’ at me?


OK, maybe I am being a little mean.  A slut walk enthusiast would explain to you–at great length, you can be sure–that, unlike her bra-burning mother or grandmother, not only does she not reject the symbols of subjugation to the patriarchy represented by sky-high heels, push-up bras, or garters and stockings, but she embraces them as her own. Good for her, some of you may be thinking, and I agree: good for her.  Just as long as she understands that her embrace does not alter the reality that such garments are designed with a specific purpose in mind: to provoke.  If the top of her head does not blow off from the cognitive dissonance that should ensue, then more power to her.

The enthusiast will also tell you that a slut walk is nothing more than a protest march against rape. It’s  way to let victims know that they did nothing wrong–that a crime was perpetrated against them.  In a subtle reframing that I suspect signals the beginning of the end for slut walks a new slogan is rapidly gaining currency: “replace ‘don’t get raped’ with ‘don’t rape.'” Well, yes, it is difficult to argue with that.

But that phrase presupposes a few ideas that don’t quite jibe with the slut walkers’ tactics. Very few rapes are the result of a stranger, overcome with desire at the sight of a scantily clad young lovely, jumping out of the bushes or out from an alley to rape the tender morsel.  Within the cohort I care most about–college students–rape is likely to occur by someone the victim knows. Although it may be forcible, usually it is not. Within this group sometimes a sexual encounter does not become “rape” until weeks or months later. The elephant always in the room is that the vic and the perp are inexperienced drinkers who have had one too many. Or five. Or six. Or ten.

The slut walkers in Chicago looked pretty sober to me. So what’s their excuse?

Readers interested in a thoughtful feminist discussion slut walks should check out The F Word.
Readers interested in learning what steps some colleges are taking to reduce alcohol-fueled sexual assault should read Beyond Rape Prevention.
Readers interested in the terrible consequences of alcohol and assault should read about Trey Malone.
Readers interested in learning more about Miley Cyrus are on their own.

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3 thoughts on “Why Wasn’t Miley Cyrus Grand Mistress of the Chicago Slut Walk?

  1. Damn! The only time I was in Toronto it was too cold for any kind of march like that. I do remember being charged $7.38 (canadian) for a single draft beer in a downtown hotel and the unearthly, unwholesome cleanliness of the city. Serves them right. Canadians.

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