Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Slut's Defence

I’ve never partaken in a Slut Walk, nor did I ever intend to. But it’s comments like columnist Naomi Lakritz’s in "Self-respecting women don't call themselves sluts" from this morning’s Calgary Herald that make me want to grab a sign, strip down to my whities and march the streets.

In the 1960s-- the heydays of the sexual revolution-- women calling themselves ‘sluts’ would have appeared odd, even downright misogynist. Four decades later, however, I think it’s safe to say that the social context for females has greatly changed and therefore so has feminism.

Perhaps to Lakritz women calling themselves sluts and parading the streets like sluts is mind boggling, but I liken it to a form of a Pride parade, like the Gay Pride. It’s not about conforming to an idea of proper etiquette. In fact, it’s about subverting exactly that. If you think women are more warranting in jeans and t-shirts, we say women are deserving regardless of what they are wearing. Most importantly we say, “Hey wait, we love our bodies and our desires.”

Today, we want to reclaim things our mothers couldn’t (and probably still wouldn’t) have dared to do. The word slut is one of them.

The Slut Walk is an attempt to regain our sexuality. If that makes us come across as sex objects, well at least the point is getting across!

(Aren’t we all human? Don’t we all have libidos? Aren’t we all therefore sex objects? That to me is being called a “person” first and woman, simply by birth.)

This generation is all about re-appropriation and subversion, whereas the one of my mother’s-- the leaders of female freedom-- was all about emancipation, legally and culturally.

Being called a slut shouldn’t hurt. It shouldn’t have to mean a woman who sleeps willy nilly, here and there, according the whims of man. No. A slut should mean a woman who is proud of her libido and the various ways she wants to celebrate it.

What young females are fighting for today are things that condone parts of our personality. We say, let’s give power to every part of being a woman (i.e. human) which as well as wits and shoes, includes our sexuality.

In 1997, Easton and Hardy first wrote something revolutionary in their book, The Ethical Slut. “To us, a slut is a person of any gender who celebrates sexuality according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.”

That’s what a slut means to me, today. And I am proud to call myself SLUT.

If you aren’t comfortable walking around in your undies, we aren’t asking you to join. But we feel the need to show ourselves as women, which-- let’s not forget-- also includes our sexual goddesses. We of this generation feel the need to say, hey, that’s o.k.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is Privacy is on its deathbed?

Privacy is an ethical question that has been debated over centuries. Our acceptance and tolerance of what constitutes legal or rightful intrusions of privacy have changed over time and place. Though one thing has remained constant throughout: people will seek to expose what is kept hidden.

Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, says boldly and quite simply that, “The best way to keep a secret is to never have it.”

Coming from a man who is known for uncovering and exposing the greatest secrets of our century, his words resonate deeply.

The advent of whistleblowers like Wikileaks, for instance, has forced to the table a renewed discussion of what constitutes an acceptable invasion of property. The News of the World phone-hacking scandal has recently brought such discussions to another level.

In defence of his ‘journalistic’ practices, Rupert Murdoch told British MPs that, “People do not have a right to absolute privacy.”

Most people wouldn’t have such a hard time agreeing with that statement. The question is and has always been to what extent do we have a right?

I don’t seek to open Pandora’s box by revisiting an age-old debate. What I do seek to understand, rather, is how the philosophy of privacy can be so hypocritical.

Consider Wikileaks versus News of the World (NotW).

According to public opinion polls, most people are on the side with Wikileaks (regardless of how many might think Assange is a twat). Most people, however, are not on the side with NotW (not even most of their 2.5 million readers).

Then again when I say “most” there are also “many” who disagree. So then, what determines who agrees and who doesn’t?

Is it who you target? Perhaps.

Wikileaks, for instance, generally targets governments, corporations, and oppressive regimes while NotW targets celebrities and sometimes very ordinary people that happen to be victims of brutal crimes.

Is it in the way they procure information? Perhaps.

Everyone knows NotW paid off a lot of people and did a lot of snooping to get their scoops, meanwhile Assange has information tipped off to him anonymously.

Finally, is it the actual content of information? Perhaps.

Perhaps knowing the details of the American war in Iraq versus Kate Middleton’s bowl movements is much more consequential and therefore justifiable... .

Regardless if it’s one, two, or a combination of all these points that makes a violation of a subjects' privacy justifiable, there will always be some who agree and some who disagree. And it goes without saying, usually those who disagree are the victims and those who agree stand to gain something.

For me, the only thing that comes out of all this is that the business of revealing secrets is highly hypocritical. No one wants to be the victim, yet everybody wants to know what everyone else is hiding.

For those who read tabloids -- or even dare I say it, the news-- and shame NotW, a little self-reflection would be highly encouraged. Equally, for those -- dear US of A-- who shame Assange (not because he’s a twat, but because he leaked some confidential stuff) please reconsider your habits of taping into phone-lines, hiring armies of double agents, and professing human rights and democracy as pillars of your government.

In the end, the social environment we foster of secret-keeping is much like that of the dynamic between siblings: shun one and you create extreme jealousy and animosity.

Perhaps it is our time to grow up and ‘evolve’, as Dan Savage would say. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if, as Assange would have it, we weren’t able to keep secrets.

“Let Truth and Falsehood grapple,” John Milton famously wrote in 1644.

I am of the opinion like Milton that truth and the good shall conquer, so let the facts all hang out. Let’s move beyond secrets, what is there to lose then?