“An Open Letter to SlutWalk NYC and its Critiques, from One of Your Own,” by Anoushka Ratnarajah

This is an individual response.

*When I refer to women I am referring to all self-identified women.

Dear Community:

An Open Letter to SlutWalk NYC and its Critiques, from One of Your Own.

First, let me situate myself. When I say I am one of your own, here is what I mean: I am one of the organizers who brought about SlutWalk NYC, the march and the rally and the events that preceded them. I am also someone who has been critical of SlutWalk, both from without and within the organizing body.

I am a woman of colour, who is also bi-racial, who is also queer, who is also a femme—- and who is also cis, ablebodied, middle-class and post-secondary educated. Like most people, I experience a complex variety of privileges and marginalization every day. And I bring my positions of privilege and marginalization into every space I occupy—they are in every sentence I write and utter.

When I decided to take part in the organizing of the SlutWalk march and rally in New York City, I was already very much aware of the critiques of the action. But I am a feminist, and an anti-violence activist, and I wanted to see for myself what this organizing would look like, because I have a stake in it. And because I personally don’t want any feminist movement to be exclusively by and for privileged bodies and identities. Because I believe in the importance of allied work and as committed to it as I am to the very real need for marginalized folks to have our own exclusive spaces to share rage and love.

I don’t personally identify as a slut. I know a lot of folks who do though. I also get that the reclamation of that word on an individual basis carries with it a great deal of privilege. It is because I am a woman of colour and because I am queer that I personally cannot and will not re-claim this word. It has been used to sexualize me and shame me, and sexualize and shame my ancestors, and my sisters in struggle. It carries in it a deep pain that you cannot know unless you also carry that history of colonization and slavery and rape. I carry this history with me, though it is not the same history that many of the folks who have critiqued SlutWalk carry with them. I am not African american, I am not black, I can only hope and work towards being the best ally to those folks as possible.

My mother is white, my father is Tamil. My father’s people have had genocide committed against them—they are still dying. They are living in poverty. They are child soldiers, they are being raped, living in refugee camps, displaced in their own nation and across the globe. When they flee to find safety they are deemed terrorists and are held in detention centres. And my mother’s people are the people that colonized and raped the globe. So that’s where I am from; a complicated position of being westernized and also racialized, of being racially oppressed; being stereotyped as part of a “model minority” in order to pit me and my people against black folks; being taught to reach for desirable whiteness; being colonized and decolonizing myself.

There were over fifty people in that first meeting. The critiques of previous SlutWalks were in the room and on everyone’s tongue.