Personal Is Political / Race/Ethnicity / Rape Culture

Completely Useless & Wildly Immature Correspondence With SlutWalk Vancouver (Year 3) Organizers

The first correspondence I received was originally posted on this entry, as part of my open call to boycott SlutWalk Vancouver in its third year and in future years. But as I’ve since received further correspondence, and the issues I addressed in the original piece of writing calling for a boycott, as well as in this piece of writing calling out the entire movement for its collective racism, are of significantly greater importance than the correspondence I have received from the two current organizers of SlutWalk Vancouver’s third year, I’ve decided to move it all to this entry. Let’s take a look, shall we?

In the interests of transparency, I posted a link to the open call to boycott, without further comment, on the Facebook page for SlutWalk Vancouver. I posted it as a link on their wall and as a comment on the page’s primary graphic, which is advertising the event to take place on June 2nd this year. Not only was I banned from the page within hours, but the admin responsible for this decision rather curiously felt compelled to write me a private message about it as well (apparently she is still an organizer for this event). In it, she states that I am “more than welcome to my opinion” (Gee, really? Until now, I didn’t realize I’d need permission!) but that my words “aren’t helping anyone” and “don’t belong on the group” (Well, I guess that’s why I posted them here). I replied by addressing her apparently exceptional definitions of the words “help” and “anyone”. She has since replied a second time, claiming that women of colour have unanimously supported the event through email correspondence, and that the only people who are dissenting on the principle that the event is racially exclusive (or essentially, white supremacist) are doing so by asserting their social privileges as white people to accomplish that—which is literally the exact opposite of white privilege. Here’s a screenshot of the entire reply within which these claims are contained:

Alice Bailey, everyone: Firing a cannonball through any attempt on her own behalf to raise consciousness about rape culture, by revealing in her own words that she has absolutely no idea what she's even talking about and refuses to pay attention when the matter is brought directly to her in a face to face meeting with members of the community (as per what happened last year).

Alice Bailey, everyone: Firing a cannonball through any attempt on her own behalf to raise consciousness about rape culture, by revealing in her own words that she has absolutely no idea what she’s even talking about and refuses to pay attention when the matter is brought directly to her in a face to face meeting with members of the community (as per what happened last year).

I didn’t think I’d ever have to say this again, but in the interests of transparency, this is a woman who repeatedly told me that because of a single bad date with one Chinese woman, she finds virtually all Asian women of any ethnicity at all completely unattractive. She continued to repeat this story even as she knew I was dating someone of Chinese heritage at the time, and even after I informed her that this is just plain racist of her. And I meant really racist. It now seems blatantly clear to me that the purpose of the community forum last year was not to air and address the issue of race in the “branding” of SlutWalk, but to attract adequate support for silencing women of colour (unless they agree with white women who don’t “get” what the problem is) and keeping their experiences of more frequent and more escalated sexual violence out of Vancouver’s SlutWalk in 2012 and in future years.

From Alice’s own words, anyone can reasonably surmise that she neither understands the concept of racial privilege, nor believes it to even exist. Also, Alice apparently believes that everyone’s politics are just mere opinions, all of which are welcome—unless you’re a woman of colour addressing her through any medium other than email, or you happen to be me reminding her that women of colour brought this issue up in a face-to-face community forum (as well as through several other mediums and multiple efforts). Paying selective attention to people of colour and their white allies on the basis of whether or not they agree with privilege-blind white people is exactly what racism looks like. Selectively promoting “awareness of rape culture” on the basis of whether or not a given issue keeps white women in a position of top priority is also exactly what racism looks like. It was already high time for a total boycott three years ago, but here is the other organizer (using an obvious pseudonym), shooting another cannonball through their own campaign:

Screenshot from 2013-05-12 19:10:47

In other words, SlutWalk Vancouver’s newest organizer believes that holding a white person publicly accountable for saying something racist is a more important (or perhaps even greater) “offence” than repeatedly saying something egregiously racist, silencing women of colour, listening only to those women of colour who choose not to challenge your racism, and then erasing any trace of dissent that you can hit the delete button on (no matter how important and valid you rather disingenuously declare it to be). I also added that she needs to check what the term “personal attack” means, for that matter, because something seems just a little fishy about this arrangement of priorities. I was met with tone-policing:

Screenshot from 2013-05-12 19:47:38

You see, I’m not used to getting “fan mail” from people who disagree with me and, as a result, seek to control exactly what I say and the precise manner in which I am permitted to say it. Not from this blog anyway. But I am used to passive aggression, to the point that I am so acutely aware of when it is present, that it actually does make me quite legitimately angry. And that’s nothing new, because it’s always made me angry. What’s new, relatively speaking, is my understanding of why it makes me angry. Teachings I have received from various people of indigenous heritage (many of whom I consider my chosen family) have been instrumental in helping me expand my conceptions of hostility and violence in distinctively meaningful ways. Learning about their history as a people, and my relationship to that history as an individual, has helped me to rearrange my own priorities when it comes to the kinds of issues my own blood family used to get passive aggressive about throughout my entire (horrific) childhood. For instance, when one is talking about genocide sanctioned by the Canadian government (a colonial institution constructed upon genocidal principles), this probably isn’t the time to get upset about how my relationship as an individual to that genocide is being described (i.e., I am a settler here, but this word is not an insult or pejorative). Or, in a perhaps marginally more relevant example, when one is talking about the entire history of colonialism and the present day colonialist political atmosphere of the country in which systemic racism still runs rampant, resulting in thousands of indigenous women disappearing and their families being denied justice, maybe this isn’t the optimal time to claim that being described as saying racist things or failing to understand what racial privilege even is is some sort of a personal attack.

But wait! I’m a “terrifying jerk” and “kind of a bully” for saying it:

Well played, Whitey.

Well played, Whitey.

Boycott this shit.

5 thoughts on “Completely Useless & Wildly Immature Correspondence With SlutWalk Vancouver (Year 3) Organizers

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  3. two native men one native woman and a black woman spoke at this years rally, yeah slut walk is trying really super hard to keep it a white one event eh, I’m sure when they named it slutwalk there clear intention was to say hey fuck you colored women!, no obviously it wasn’t, the simple fact that the march gets 10x the press it would if it was called something like “march against sexual assault” is good enough of a reason for it to be called that, it’s easier to take back a word then it is to make it disappear from the english language, If you don’t want to be associated with the word slut so bad just don’t go to the march, but don’t try and bring down a whole movement with positive intentions just because YOU can’t handle it, I think its disgusting how you dismiss white women’s experiences with sexual assault just because they are white, isn’t that the opposite of equality? rape is rape no matter the color of your skin, also what the fuck is wrong with being sex positive??

    • First of all, you’re talking about tokenism. Using people of colour as mouthpieces for white people’s ideology does absolutely zip to negate the pre-existing racism embedded throughout the problem. From where I was standing, 99% of the participants this year were fair-skinned 20-something women, who numbered at just a few dozen. I don’t care how many people of colour you can count speaking to that crowd if the underlying problem of racial privilege remains wholly unacknowledged even after they’ve finished speaking.

      Secondly, I don’t think you understand the role of media. Media does not challenge the status quo, it maintains it. If a few dozen white women strip down to their skivvies and march in the streets under a banner that says “SLUTWALK”, you better believe that the media will spin this in favour of male privilege, in favour of continued sexual objectification of women, and especially in favour of the over-arching structures of white supremacy and colonialism that shape this country. That isn’t “good” media, no matter which way you slice it. That is, unless you happen to be one of those fair-skinned 20-something white women having a blast walking down the street arm-in-arm with her fair-skinned 20-something white friends in their underwear, and calling it activism.

      Thirdly, I really don’t think you’ve even thought through the idea of “taking back” a word that has always been and continues to be a misogynistic slur that has driven several young fair-skinned white teenage women to a premature death by their own hands in the past year alone. This doesn’t seem like a particularly mature or well-formulated idea, and you’ve had three full years to think it through while volumes of dissent about the very matter at hand have been published all over the internet. Would you like a slow clap, or would you prefer a balloon?

      As for your “movement with positive intentions” — well, again, I don’t think you even understand what you’re saying. There are no positive intentions to be found in a movement that exclusively centres the experiences of white women at the cost of silencing, omitting, erasing, and excluding the experiences of women of colour. I think it is especially heinous, in fact, given that women of colour are at dramatically higher risk of sexual exploitation, and often experience a radical escalation of associated violence when they are victimized by sexual assault or sexual battery. I also don’t think there’s any trace of “positive intentions” in flat-out denial of white privilege, or in lateral aggression between SlutWalk organizers and myself as a writer — in case you missed it when you were too busy punching out your response, this correspondence you’ve commented under turned into full-blown privacy violation of myself and several other people’s confidential information, by one of SlutWalk’s organizers, who also just sort of LOLWHOOPS let it slip out that she thinks racism against Asian women is a sexual preference. Are these the “positive intentions” of your “entire movement”?

      Finally, exactly where did I “dismiss white women’s experiences”? Or are you merely saying this because I don’t allow white women’s experiences to occupy the centre of my universe when I’m addressing issues such as the intersection of sexism and racism? Guess what. I am white, I was born female, I am an incest survivor, and I am a survivor of multiple rapes. I’ve acknowledged this several times in my writing on SlutWalk alone. Oh, but I guess you skimmed over that part, even though it had its own header. But thanks for the half-assed lecture you tacked on the end there, just in case I apparently “forgot” what rape is.

      Racism isn’t positive. White privilege/supremacy isn’t positive. And until you can extract these from sex-positivity, I think that should adequately address your concerns about “what’s wrong with being sex-positive”.

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