Some came expecting titillation, a parade of soft porn. Some say there were more cameras than protesters, and for some the event recalled the halcyon days of summer, when the spirit of activism fill the Tel Aviv nights.
Inspired by SlutWalks that have taken place worldwide, and the initiatives in Haifa and Jerusalem, hundreds of Tel Aviv residents came out to participate in first Israeli SlutWalk on Thursday, March 22, 2012. The SlutWalk has now acquired a Hebrew name: Mitz’ad HaSharmutot – Sharmutot Parade (sharmuta means slut or whore in Arabic, and the term has been thoroughly incorporated into Hebrew colloquial speech).
SlutWalk rallies have become a world-wide movement, following the first SlutWalk held in Toronto on April 3, 2011, in response to a statement made by Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, who suggested that to remain safe, “women should avoid dressing like sluts.”
The protesters marched from Gan Meir to Rabin Square, chanting and stopping at intervals to read from their manifesto:
“…Let’s prove that our wardrobe is our own choice and ours only. Our body is our own and therefore we have the right to dress and look the way the way we want – whether it pleases other people or not. It is no excuse for rape, or any form of sexual harassment.
Come with revealing clothes, or don’t come with revealing clothes. Come dressed exactly the way you want to dress. No one will judge you- that’s the cause. It is everyone’s right, men and women, to dress the way they want.
We will be walking from Gan Meir to Rabin Square in revealing clothes. Dress the way you wish and come march with us” (click here to read the full text in English)
There were a few hecklers but most bystanders were inquisitive and supportive. As for attire, in comparison to photos from SlutWalks in other cities, Tel Aviv was rather subdued. Are Israeli women afraid to protest too explicitly?
As in any rally – some came for the fun, some to push their own political agenda, but some, like Genia Kozlov, knew exactly why they were marching.
26 year old Kozlov, like many Tel Avivians, lives in Ramat Gan and worked in the hi-tech industry up until two months ago. She shared her views with Midnight East:
The first time I saw internet articles about the SlutWalk in Canada I said if there’s going to be one I’m definitely going to be there. I do believe that the issue of women and women’s sexuality, women’s right to their body and the right of women not to be perfect in order not to be judged is an important issue.
We’ve already figured out that if a woman is wearing a suit, and she has three degrees and a husband and two kids, and she is always nice, and she’s always perfect, and her hair is wonderful, and she has a dog and a cat, and a hybrid car – then we can respect this woman.
But we respect flawed men; we can also respect women who we judge to be slutty.
I don’t have the right to judge other people according to my standards of something acceptable or aesthetic. OK to wear, or not OK to wear. I don’t have this right. I don’t judge men. I may think that something is unattractive, but I won’t say: Oh he’s dressed like this; of course we can throw him to jail without a trial. Because he’s dressed like this and I don’t approve of the way that he is dressing, so why would he have the right to due process?
People assume that because women dress in the fashion that they describe as slutty, or sleep with more partners than they think is appropriate, or do something else that they find not in the norm then its OK to say ‘Well those women act like that, so they don’t really deserve not to get raped and have their physical body protected from assault, because they are flawed women and it’s OK to judge them.
A lot of people assume that this [march] is about redefining the line of what’s acceptable – no, a short skirt is not slutty, but they think that there is an agreement that for example, a bra in public is [slutty]. And I’m saying – No! This line cannot be drawn. You cannot judge my clothing! They have nothing to do with you, I don’t talk to you, I’m not your friend, you may not assault me because of your judgment, and you may not create the assumption that I should be assaulted because of your judgment. Your judgment is your problem, not mine.”
How did Genia become so outspoken and uppity? I must sadly confirm that according to her own confession, Genia is an engineer and reads a lot of books.
More photos from the SlutWalk on Midnight East’s facebook page