Have you heard of SlutWalk? And have you heard of SlutWalk Morocco? “The Walk started after a policeman in Toronto, Canada told a group of young college women that if they wanted to avoid sexual assault, they shouldn’t dress like sluts.” NPR posted this interesting interview around the concept with writer Rebecca Traister. Traister supports the mission but she “finds it hard to wrap her arms around it.”
Some of us feel the same way about the Moroccan version of SlutWalk. While we condemn violence against women, we wonder about blindly borrowed activism methods. Clearly, “No” means “No” means “No”. But what’s the Slutwalk have to do with Morocco?
In North America, the concept has not generated as many followers/sympathizers as perceived. And it’s not because people believe that women’s dress code makes them liable or responsible for the wrong or criminal behavior of men. Rather, many wonder if rallying around the word “slut” would hurt the feminist agenda? Rebecca Traister questions the kind of message that the campaign might send. She feels that this limits young feminism, “when there is so much more to young feminism.” However, she also fears: “Does my position make me a victim blamer?” She wants the young activists to be “smart and nuanced in their message”.
Traister nicely concludes: “Does clothing mean anything? Of course clothing means something. Clothing does send messages. But what it doesn’t do is excuse any kind of misuse of power.” Clearly, the Toronto policeman’s assumption is not true.
It’s easy to understand and experience the same conflicted feeling expressed by Traister. But if the SlutWalk seems so far removed from Moroccan feminism, it does remind us of another women’s rights campaign the: “Ni putes Ni soumises” (Neither whores, nor submissive) French campaign seems closer to the concerns, aspirations and priorities of Moroccan feminism. The campaign Ni Putes Ni Soumises (turned organization) was crafted in France, with the involvement of a majority of first generation immigrants from North African descent. The campaign’s name was borrowed from the book: “Ni Putes, ni soumises” written by Fadela Amara, an Algerian born French feminist and former president of the organization. Other movements born from social inequality affecting women in developing countries, like the daisies walk organized by rural women in Brazil, also seem closer to the condition and situation of the majority of Moroccan women.
Beyond sluts and feminism, what place do copycat methods and the use of others’ original campaigns have in Moroccan feminism? Will such strategies strengthen the women’s movement in Morocco? Or will they backfire and further stigmatize Moroccan feminism? Would they defy their purpose? Can our young feminists be creative enough to craft their own feminist message for a more genuine local impact? Isn’t this also what the change movement stands for in Morocco? Our independence of thought, and self-determination?
If SlutWalk Morocco is really about a transnational feminist movement, have our young feminists considered translating the name into Darija/Arabic/Berber? What impact would that have on their mission? How many Moroccan women will volunteer to hold the signs up then? Protest in lingerie? Or will this be a “Light Slutwalk” and in the end, not “Slut” enough?
In Puritan America, and the very hip State of NY, the Facebook SlutWalk page has 1,270 followers. The Moroccan page has 2,367 followers.
No, Traister is not Moroccan. But please listen to her for some good food for thoughts: