A piece written by Rebecca Traister for The New York Times Magazine called “Ladies, We Have A Problem” (sub headline: “Clumsy Young Feminists”) hit the Internet today. In it, Traister criticizes the SlutWalk, an event put on by various feminist groups to protest the idea that women are inviting sexual assault if they dress too slutty (and that, by extension, said assault is their fault and not, you know, the fault of the person who assaulted them). Missing the point by several football fields, she basically says that women should not dress slutty to try to prove a point, because nobody takes people who dress slutty seriously. Least of all her!

Via The New York Times:

I understand that SlutWalkers want to drain the s-word of its misogynistic venom and correct the idea it conveys: that a woman who takes a variety of sexual partners or who presents herself in an alluring way is somehow morally bankrupt and asking to be hit on, assaulted or raped. Not coincidentally, it is a word that was used to discredit [Anita] Hill by one of her (since repentant) denigrators, David Brock, who called her “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”

To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial) to what society already expects of its young women. Scantily clad marching seems weirdly blind to the race, class and body-image issues that usually (rightly) obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers. So while the mission of SlutWalks is crucial, the package is confusing and leaves young feminists open to the very kinds of attacks they are battling.

Okay, first of all, has she ever been to a SlutWalk? People are encouraged to wear whatever they feel comfortable in; in fact, bustiers seem to be in the minority. Many women choose to wear what they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted; these clothes range from normal, modest outfits to more risque get-ups. This drives home the point that rapists do not solely target women who are dressed “slutty;” to tell women (as that Toronto cop did) that they can keep from getting raped merely by covering up is not only stupid, but dangerous.

Second, let’s un-pack this bit: I understand that SlutWalkers want to drain the s-word of its misogynistic venom and correct the idea it conveys: that a woman who takes a variety of sexual partners or who presents herself in an alluring way is somehow morally bankrupt and asking to be hit on, assaulted or raped…To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial) to what society already expects of its young women.

Translation: I understand that SlutWalkers want to protest being judged for how they dress or who they have sex with, and they are right to do so. But to do so while dressed in slutty clothing is just inviting judgment. For instance, look at me, an ostensible ally, JUDGING THEM RIGHT NOW.

Basically, she agrees in theory that women shouldn’t be judged for how they look, but when it comes time to put her money where her mouth is, she fails miserably. Or, as The Awl’s Choire Sicha put it:

“…So while the mission of SlutWalks is crucial, the package is confusing and leaves young feminists open to the very kinds of attacks they are battling.” Wait, but yes? Because the point is… people treat people who “look like sluts” badly! The point is to confront hostility at difference, not to use this occasion to enforce hostility at difference.

Then, there’s her assertion that by defiantly wearing revealing clothing in a protest of the common societal notion that women who dress a certain way are somehow less than human, they are doing exactly what society expects of them. This is obviously complete fucking nonsense. Society does not expect sluts to assert their personhood. It expects them to change their behavior, or accept the consequences. To participate in SlutWalk is to say you will do neither.

I’d go on, but honestly, I don’t want to waste any more time thinking about Rebecca Traister’s pearl-clutching bullshit and the damage it does to the feminist movement when its alleged members participate in the same slut-shaming thought processes as the patriarchy. If you agree with me, perhaps you’d like to leave a piece of your mind in the article’s comments section or write a letter to the editor. Also, check out the SlutWalk website for information how you can get involved in activities going on in your area.

I doff my top to you, Rebecca Traister. May your subjective anti-slut feelings someday stop interfering with your brain’s ability to reason.