“SlutWalk: The Politics of Reclaming a Name” workshop on campus

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“Consent Is Mac” organized and facilitated the interactive workshop “SlutWalk: The Politics of Reclaiming a Name” Thursday, Nov. 19. According to Health Promotions, the workshop focused on “the implications of the word ‘slut’ in our society today and what it means to reclaim this name.”

Dr. Annie Hill, from the University of Minnesota, was featured as the guest lecturer. The event consisted of a presentation by Hill on her recent work on the issue and was followed by Q&A which led into the more interactive part of the workshop.

Shannon Mahedy ’17, last year’s leader of “Consent Is Mac,” organized the event last summer.

She said in an email that she had heard of the University of Minnesota’s strong Gender Studies department and after looking further into the work of various professors, Mahedy concluded that Hill was “a perfect fit for the event!”

Hill is currently completing a book, “This Modern-Day Slavery: Sex Trafficking, Migration, and Law.”

Mahedy contacted Hill while she was working on the article “SlutWalk as Perifeminist Response to Rape Logic: The Politics of Reclaiming a Name.”

“Her focus on rhetoric is ideal for a discussion involving the implications of language on sexual violence,” Mahedy said. “I’m so excited that she’s coming to Mac!”

Inspired by the DML’s “More than Words” campaign, Mahedy “wanted ‘Consent is Mac’ to host an event that explored the ways in which the labels we give to people who deviate from patriarchal and heteronormative sexual norms.”

“A focus on SlutWalk added a new layer to the discussion, since the popular event has both been celebrated and criticized for a variety of reasons since its inception.”

SlutWalk and its marches are organized in various cities around the world. According to SlutWalk’s website, it functions as “a worldwide movement against victim-blaming, survivor-shaming and rape culture.”

Recognizing the term ‘slut’ as both “complicated and nuanced,” Mahedy said she figured that “it’s harder to reach a consensus on whether it is empowering or detrimental to reclaim the term, and whether or not SlutWalk is a productive way to go about it.”

“I was hoping to unpack the term ‘slut,’ and to generate a dialogue regarding whether or not women should reclaim it, considering that other terms with discriminatory histories have recently been reclaimed, like the term ‘queer,’” Mahedy said.

In addition to “Consent is Mac’s” main goal of creating an environment that facilitates consent, Mahedy said she hopes that these kinds of events will help remodel the culture and attitudes towards sexual violence and female sexuality.

“We can’t promote equal power when women are often faced with a variety of unfair and impossible sexual standards. I think, as a community, Mac is pretty advanced in these areas, but our society constantly bombards us with so much propaganda, often through the media, that it’s easy to internalize guilt and unhealthy perspectives on sex.”

Mahedy continued, “I really hope that it will add a new layer of nuance to the Consent Campaign in order to widen the discussion. Mac students love tackling tough topics.”