The title of this post alludes to several themes.
Of course, as it is being written the day after Halloween, it is meant to incite “spooky” interest about a night that celebrates dressing up in “costumes” that may or may not reflect our “other” selves. The title also is an ode to Virgina Woolf’s famous essay about a woman who, in the quest to buy a pencil, enjoys a day of carefree street sauntering in the city.
And finally, the subtitle refers to : the empowering process of being a “mother outlaw” and and the need for all women (and their children) to reclaim “the night” and “the streets” as their own without a fear of violence.
I have been a proud supporter of “Take Back the Night” events in
I proudly reclaimed the streets with other women and did it with an empowered sense of bold defiance that only comes with those moments of feminist activism when you know “you are not alone” . I also took my neice to these events for many years-from the ages of 8-13- and she fondly remembers them now as a young woman, as being the consciousness-raising moments for her own feminism.
HOWEVER, it saddens me that, in 2011- women (and children) still cannot walk our city streets without fearing for their safety. I am angered that, in 2011, women and young girls are still told that they should refrain from dressing in a certain way , more specicifically, not dressing like “sluts”, to avoid rape and sexual harassment.
Although, the global movement of the Slutwalks this year has continued to raise both media attention and individual awareness to the continued issue of violence against women, I remain disheartened about continued patriarchal dictates regarding safety issues for women; whereby the blame for potential sexual harrassment (and possible rape) is placed on what a woman wears versus the onus and focus being placed on the actual perpretrators of such crimes. I also find it quite disheartening that a healthy divisional faction within the feminist movement itself on this issue - ie. how activism regarding violence against women should be publically addressed- is being used in the media to further a discrediting and silencing on such an important topic.
YET......here is my truth....
I am still walking the streets alone as an independent woman , yet contine to look over my shoulder for concerns regarding my safety.
I continue to receive critical comments from others regarding my decisions to allow my ten year old son his own freedom - for example, this year I supported my son to go trick and treating alone with his friends -albeit with a 15 year old elder sister that did accompany them. Some how, I was being a "bad mother" in allowing my son this opportunity to roam his neighbourhood without the surveillance of his parents as chaperones.
Furthermore, women are still being told that if they dress in certain "costumes" for Halloween, they can guarantee that their "trickster" performativity can only guarantee one thing...a really "bad treat".
This Mother Outlaw has to wonder: When will our streets be truly safe for everyone to “saunter” and “street haunt” without such worry?
I attended the Toronto Slut Walk in April 2011 as a proud Mother Outlaw….I plan on attending again next year.
BUT- I have to say.... this is one feminist community mobilizing event, I wish wasn’t even in need of my support or attendance .