From the September-October 2017 issue of News & Letters
Chicago—The SlutWalk here on Aug. 13 was hijacked by the fight between Palestinian supporters and rabidly nationalist Jewish activists—A Wider Bridge—who had made themselves known at the Dyke March. Here they wielded 14”x36” signs, using them to get in the way of speakers to keep them from being seen, and they tried to yell speakers down.
PALESTINIAN WOMEN’S LIVES LEFT OUT
While several speakers did talk about Palestinians and even Palestinian women, they did not speak to the reality of Palestinian women’s lives other than how they are oppressed by the Israeli state. There was nothing, for example, about how Palestinian women are shamed for how they dress or blamed when they are raped. Women’s unemployment in Gaza is twice that of men—44.7% to 22.2%—but when women try to work in what are considered “untraditional jobs” they face intense cultural backlash. But at this rally, only Israel and the U.S. were the enemy and the struggle Palestinian women consistently wage against sexism was not addressed.
The walk after the rally was hijacked by the cops who, in pushing SlutWalkers and bikes onto the sidewalk, pushed people down, and one cop fell himself. The upshot was five protesters arrested and one Transgender person charged with a felony.
A few speakers did talk about what SlutWalk was all about.
The best in my view was from Brazil. She spoke of the “many questions that surround the woman’s body: harassment, domestic violence, rape culture, abortion, sexuality, prostitution, pornography.” She gave a history of SlutWalk in Brazil, saying the marches “represent a powerful metaphor of freedom.” She talked of the large city of Curitiba “which is really conservative and where violence against women is one of the highest in the country. SlutWalk has been performed there since 2011, where it took up the urgency of ending femicide. Every hour and a half a woman dies of violence—most from domestic violence.”
She spoke as well about the violence against LGBTQ people there and the many murders of Trans people. She ended by reminding us that “We are here today connected in so many ways and I want to believe that all of us are not bonded by violence, we are bonded by hope.”