slut walk: here’s my latest thought

1. If you can, go on the march. Take a sign that says what you mean. Wear what you like. Take a friend, so you can chat and take photos of each other. If you don’t have a friend, go on your own and make some new friends.

2. Make the rally what you need it to mean. Use your sign, do some shouting. I’m a fan of this old chestnut: “Yes means YES and NO means NO – however we dress and where ever we go!”

3. Be against rape, in any form, and against anyone.

4. Do not make excuses for people who rape. Just take a simple sign that is your whole philosophy boiled down to succinctness: “No excuses for rape” or “I abhor all violence” or “You are responsible for your actions”. I’m not sure “My mom is hot” is really going to go down the right way…

5. Listen to the speeches, and think about what you might feel.

6. Support all the people there, even if you might disagree with a part of their argument. Support them, because it’s ok to disagree. You are all there together, and you’re all mighty tired of the sexual violence that is perpetrated and excused in our community.

7. If this is your first rally, there are some things to remember. If it’s a well-run rally and march, there will be ‘marshalls’ (usually very capable women) with Marshall written on their shirt. Do as they say. If they tell you to stop, stop. If they tell you to get off the road, get off the road. The marshalls are usually well trained and know the march route and what to do if something happens. If you feel faint or scared or bad, tell a marshall.

It’s ok to step out of the rally or march at any time. You can just dissolve into the crowd if it gets too much for you. It can be pretty intense. I’ve always found women’s marches really exciting and invigorating. Everyone is friendly and supportive, and everyone feels good and positive. I’m not sure what slutwalk will be like, as some people will be very angry.

If it’s a big rally or march, find a place and group of women who make you feel good. If you don’t like the super loud shouting, find some quieter people. There will probably be some peaceful, nonviolent protestors (like the Shakers) who’ll be there, so you might like to walk with them if you’re not ok with violent talk.

If you don’t like people on the side of the road yelling or looking at you, move into the middle of the crowd. If people do yell at you from the side of the road, the best bet is to just ignore them. You’re with a crowd of people who’ve got your back. Just marching out there is an awesome statement in itself: women! Out in public! Unafraid!

In my experience, women’s marches are very supportive and friendly, so you should feel ok about asking for help or making new friends.

If someone asks you for help, do what you can. Get a marshall, move out of the rally, whatever it takes.

The police are usually pretty good at women’s rallies (they even were in Brisbane). Be polite, and do as they say. They will be business-like. I’ve had police be quite rude and crude on Reclaim The Night marches, but that was Brisbane, and I was with a whole crowd of women who would keep an eye on me. Ignore the cops if they’re rude.

If you are of a mind to pull some civil disobedience, do make contact with the slutwalk organisers beforehand and find out what their policy is on c.d. Remember: you might be angry enough to act up, but at a rally like this, it is not appropriate to be violent or aggressive. Many women in the crowd will be survivors of rape or violence, and they will find your behaviour frightening or upsetting. Also: violence isn’t cool; most people find it frightening and upsetting. And that’s the point of this rally.

8. What will I wear?
Wear what you like. Personally, I like to wear good, comfortable walking shoes on a march. If it’s daytime, I wear a hat. I wear shorts and a tshirt and take a jumper if it’s cold. Use a good, solid backpack that’s not too heavy. Take some water and an umbrella if it’s too sunny. Make sure your hands are free so you can heft your sign. There are workshops on how to make signs; contact the slutwalk people for advice. I also like to bring a whistle. Shouting is fun, but it gets tiring and hurts your voice. A whistle is cool. If you need them, make sure you bring your ventolin or medications. Bring ID and have money to use a payphone, as well as your phone. Tell a couple of people where you’re going and what you’re doing.
If you are thinking of dressing up (costumes are fun), it’s a good idea to wear shoes you can walk in. Whatever they are.

9. If you’re a man, your best bet is to get some friends and stand in a key point on the march’s route. Make some good signs that say things like “I support your right to choose!” or something similar. When the march gets to you, cheer and cheer and cheer. Don’t yell out things like “you’re hot!” or wolf whistle. Yell out things like “wahoo!” and waggle your sign. Cheer as much as you can. I can tell you, this will make the women marching feel so GOOD.
If other people around you badmouth the women marching, don’t get into an argument or a fight with them. Just cheer the women on. Use only good, solid, positive words and actions. This march isn’t all about you, so don’t get into a fight and distract from the march.

I was all set to go, and then I realised I’d be flying back from Melbourne at just that moment. I figure: go, protest against rape and violence against women. Unpack it all later.

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