Back in October I spoke with SlutWalk founder Heather Jarvis about what it was like to get ready to speak at TEDx. Now that that process is over, you can catch her talk with co-founder Sonya JF Barnett. As you’ll see in their talk, Jarvis and Barnett liken language to a virus and apply this metaphor to slut-shaming, calling “slut” one of many “infected words” that have become contagious and are used to dehumanize.
I have to say my favourite part starts around the 4 minute mark where Barnett talks about how much it sucks to be called a “slut” at age 15. That really resonated with me – I share that knowing that all those times I was slut-shamed still stick with me over a decade later.
“Separating my sexual identity from my self-worth has become very difficult over time,” says Barnett and I think a lot of women will know what that feels like and likewise hear their own experiences when Jarvis talks about coping with assault.
I’d encourage you to watch the video even if you have issues with SlutWalk or some of the ways it’s played out in different communities. I think it really grounds the discussion in the very real, lived experiences of women and girls who are slut-shamed and blamed for “asking for it” when sexually harassed or assaulted.
I’m interested to know what other GF readers think – feel free to comment below!
TEDx Toronto is coming up this Friday and one of SlutWalk Toronto’s founders, Heather Jarvis, will be one of the speakers around the theme of Alchemy: “the seemingly magical process of taking ordinary, common elements, usually of little value, and combining them to make something extraordinary of great value.” Heather Jarvis is a queer, sex- and body-positive feminist with a strong background in gender studies, social work and community activism.
I wanted to talk with Heather about the whole TEDx process and what she thinks being part of TEDx means for SlutWalk, a movement that has grown and evolved since it was started just over a year ago. We started out talking about what it’s like to get the TEDx call.
“I was really shocked and blown away,” said Jarvis, “I’ve known about TED Talks and TEDx events for some time now and I love them…it was really a far-fetched dream that I would be involved someday.”
For at least the last month Jarvis has been busy workshopping her ideas with the TEDx team, turning her talk concept into “a more personalized story” that she’s hoping will be engaging for audience members who don’t have a background discussing issues around slut-shaming and that will challenge all attendees to reflect on the issues after the talk.
Here’s her TEDx intro video:
The whole process has caused her to reflect on how SlutWalk has moved forward over the past year and how it’s been impacted by the media, particularly though spreading the misconception that SlutWalk is a women’s only event where attendees are encouraged to dress promiscuously (it’s open to all genders and people are invited to wear whatever they want). Read more