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Jewesses with Attitude

Jaclyn Friedman speaks out against slut-shaming and victim blaming at Slutwalk

Jaclyn Friedman is a 'Jewess with Attitude' who talks the talk and walks the walk -- the Slutwalk, that is. Jaclyn Friedman, founder and the Executive Director of Women, Action & the Media, is a powerful voice in the current Feminist movement. Co-author of Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, she is particularly concerned with tearing down rape culture. On May 7, 2011, she joined an estimated 2,000 others on the Boston Common to make her voice heard.

The Slutwalk movement began this year in Toronto when, on January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police stated: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The people of Toronto took to the streets in protest, and their actions sparked a movement that has spread all over the world. The Boston event was organized by a group of 20-somethings including Siobhan Connors, Nicole Ouimette and Katt Schott-Mancini, of Providence, RI. The Toronto Slutwalk website states:

Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim ...

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

While the idea of reclaiming the word "slut" is controversial, the message -- that the only person to blame for a rape is the rapist -- should not be. Since Jewish women are often stereotyped as "sluts" (as are most "ethnic" women), this is a particularly relevant issue for the Jewish community.

Last month, Jaclyn Friedman participated in the conference “Women’s Liberation and Jewish Identity: Uncovering a legacy of innovation, activism, and social change.” The conference, organized by JWA Board member Joyce Antler, sponsored by NYU, and co-sponsored by JWA,  brought together Jewish women who had been active in radical feminism or in Jewish feminism, and explored the role Jewish identity played in their activism. Friedman appeared on the "Women's Liberation Daughters: The Next Generation" panel with Tamara Cohen, Collier Meyerson, Nona Willis-Aronowitz, Irin Carmon, and JWA's Judith Rosenbaum. You can read Judith's reflections on the conference here.

Jaclyn Friedman says her social justice framework comes out of Judaism. Growing up, her first feminist role model was also her rabbi, Sally Preisand, the first woman to become an ordained rabbi in America.

In 2010, Jacyln Friedman wrote "My Sluthood, Myself," a blog post that reverberated through the feminist and anti-feminist blogospheres for months. In her deeply compassionate piece, she describes how "sluthood" can be healing and empowering for many of us. Residing near Cambridge, MA, who better to speak at Boston's Slutwalk?

Watch Jaclyn Friedman whip up the crowd at Boston's Slutwalk below. (This video begins a couple minutes into her speech, but it is the best quality version available. If you would like to see the full speech despite poor video quality, watch it here.) Fair warning, the speech contains profanity.

If you would rather read the speech, you can find the full transcipt here.

 

Jaclyn Friedman
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Jaclyn Friedman, writer, speaker and co-editor of Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape.

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Jaclyn Friedman speaks out against slut-shaming and victim blaming at Slutwalk." 13 May 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/jaclyn-friedman-speaks-out-against-slut-shaming-and-victim-blaming>.

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