We all knew this would happen, appropriation and misuse of a positive movement is usually inevitable when it becomes big enough. Flags went up when this was posted on their facebook page though I would say was wary when I saw that it was a project helmed by two men:
Thank you for all your comments and questions! Slutwalk Teheran [sic] does not encourage the women of Iran to participate owing to the ever-present threat of reprisals by the antiquated patriarchy of that Islamic Republic. What we are encouraging is for ever grrrrl from the US, Canada, Sud America, Europe and Oceania to swoop down on Azadi Square and RECLAIM the term “slut”! Spread the word!!
Victimization and cultural encroachment bingo, standard.
A great response directly to them by Tiara:
how’s Iranian immigration/visa systems like? It’s hard enough getting visas on a Bangladesh passport tho the Muslim country thing may be a bonus. Also wouldn’t the idea of having mostly foreigners protest be seen as “foreign entities enroaching on local culture” (and therefore offensive and self-defeating) rather than empowering for the local women? Iranian women have plenty of strength and energy and courage – it’s not up to us outsiders to *save* them, just *support* them when they ask.
Who went on to say on her own blog:
I’m sure there are plenty of Iranian women who can work out how to make SlutWalk locally-relevant and make it work for themselves while also protecting themselves from harm. I think the fact that this particular branch of the event is run by a guy means that there’s quite a bit of gender-privilege-denial here – the only folk he’s talking to on Facebook are Western.
Then it turned out that it may have all been a troll or scam:
His idea of SlutWalk is, rather than get the Iranian women involved (for their “Safety”), he wants all the foreign chicks to come over and stage a protest there.
But really, there is a message in all of this, How Not To Organize A Slutwalk. No, really.
OK LISTEN. There is NO WAY this is going to work UNLESS you engage with the Iranian people. You can’t just pick and choose a random city, specifically state that you WON’T engage with the locals there, ask people to just arrive on a random date and time, and expect things to go well. This is neo-imperialism. This is imposing your values on others. Not only will this fail, it will fail HORRIBLY, and the people that will suffer the most are the very same Iranian women you’re supposedly trying to protect. Not to mention that events like these take time and planning and effort; it’s not just a matter of “pick a time and date, tada!”
The only way for this to work is for the Iranian women to be a CORE COMPONENT in SlutWalk. Right now you’re treating them as weaklings that need saving and it shows. Your heart may be in the right place, but this is causing more harm than good. MASSIVE harm. You basically don’t know what you’re doing.
Reconsider, stop, and give control of this event to the Iranian women. Let them decide if, when, and how they’ll do SlutWalk. In the meantime, STAY OUT OF IT – this is NOT your battle to fight. Go support other people’s SlutWalks if you like, go support your local rape support centers, but don’t start one in a culture, place, identity alien to you until you’ve received the support and welcome of the local people and you know what you’re doing.
Major props to Tiara for engaging and deconstructing this mess.
-EDITED to correct names