Slutwalking – and unexpected public speaking

Its definitely been a day and a half – and one that ended, sort of, with me back on a stage, trembling like a leaf and waving the trans banner at the London slutwalk demo.

To begin at the beginning. It always felt like it was going to be a slightly surreal day, with not only slutwalk, but also the naked bike ride due to hit London mid-afternoon, and a political knitathon going on somewhere in the vicinity.

We didn’t, er, tangle with the knitathon, but we did bump into a few stragglers from the bike ride – but more of that later.

Off on a slutwalk!

Myself, andrea and the boy went down to London on the fast train. At Kings Cross, we rendez-voused with Sarah Brown – Cambridge city councillor and trans activist – Belinda Brookes-Gordon, a psychologist and sometime expert adviser to the Home Office on sex crimes, and Cat Stephens. No: not THAT Cat Stephens. This one is convenor for the International Union of Sex Workers – and the sort of sane, gentle person you’d really hope was talking to government about policy in this area.

Then off to Hyde Park Corner (getting off, by accident or design at Green Park instead) where we milled – that is about the only word for it – amongst the massed ranks of women gathered to protest the suggestion, however “helpfully” intentioned (and originally by a Toronto policeman) that if women didn’t “dress like sluts”, they might be less likely to get raped.

Not going to dig into the politics of the issue here, except to note in passing that since I was on today’s demo, that rather suggests that I am well and truly in favour of slutwalk’s aims and against victim-shaming in all its manifestations.

It was hot, crowded and for the first half or so of the march to Trafalgar Square, the boy was not in best of spirits: slightly intimidated by the chanting and occasional waves of ululation that noised up and down the route. He did, on the other hand, appear to have picked up the spirit of the chant, repeating on the train later “Yes means yes and No means NO”.

OK. At six, I suspect he may imagine that the principle is more likely to apply to things like extra sweets and extra helpings of pudding than anything more adult. But maybe, in ten or fifteen years time it might light a bulb in the corner of his mind and help create a slightly more enlightened male in the process.

Support for sex workers

Met loads of people I seem to have spoken to before, or who recognised my face: the joys (and perils) of being an increasingly known national journalist. Lovely, though, when chatting to the ECP, about whom I have written a number of stories.

Conversation began suspiciously enough cause…we-ell, I’m a journalist. Then recognition and “Jane!” and, apart from chatting to various bods I haven’t actually met in the flesh before, I also spoke to Sheila Farmer – yet another woman who has had little support from the police when she was attacked, but a great deal of police interest in scoring an easy conviction for the sole reason, pretty much, that she has been involved in sex work. I will be writing about her case in the not too distant.

But down to Trafalgar Square, in the hope of saying hi to blogger and New Statesman columnist, Laurie Penny. (We met: we shook hands daintily!)

Suddenly on stage

And with speakers from pretty much every group under the sun due to go on, the organisers inform me there is no trans speaker. Quick hustle with Sarah B: is it appropriate for me to do a short spot about the trans view of rape and violence? Consensus is yes.

So at about five minutes notice I find myself stood on stage in front of a 3,000-plus audience talking about the epidemic of violence that trans women face in their everyday lives. Was trembling top to toe as I stepped down: but the audience appeared to like it, and the boy was well pleased.

And home again

Then Pizza Express, where he ate his meal backwards (choccie cake followed by pizza) – and STILL managed to find room for a McDonalds about two hours later.

And home by way of Covent Garden, which is where we picked up the remnants of the naked bike ride. The boy described it best. An astonished “That man is TOTALLY naked!”

And “look at that wobbly bottom”. Yep: that seemed to cover it.

And finally the Deepings where, to cap a day of high political excitement, the boy decided to bring us all back down to earth by tipping a third of a cup of McDonald’s shake over the back of the car. Yum!

Still: he’ll definitely have something to talk about in class on Monday morning.



15 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sarah Brown said,

    Point of information – I’m not Cambridge’s first trans city councillor. Not even close! Don’t want to claim credit where it’s not due…

    • 2

      janefae said,

      sorry, Sarah…how should i reword it? One of Cambridge’s fastest-climbing trans women? 🙂


      (but seriously though: don’t wish to mislead)

  2. 4

    Lucy Melford said,

    You must be very brave to speak in public like that. But I suppose it’s easier to do it on the spur of the moment, rather than having weeks and weeks to prepare the speech, and suffer a slow build-up of terror!


  3. 5

    SophieH said,

    I know this probably isn’t going to make me the most popular person here to make a comment but here goes…
    As a woman with a transsexual history and a sex worker I have perhaps ‘unsurprisingly’ suffered sexual assault and extreme sexual harassment. Surprisingly, well maybe to some, the majority of this has come from within the so called TG and fetish scenes, transvestites being the very worst offenders. Baring in mind that all the people who shall remain nameless were and I assume still are fully aware that I am in a very strong and long-term relationship with my partner I found the lack of self control that the culprits demonstrated absolutely shocking. What others might find even more shocking is that at one point after an incident in a night club involving a man who actually knew us simply grabbing my partner (resulting in her drink flying all over me) I was so angry that I warned said person that ‘if he ever touched my partner again I would be compelled to break his arm’. I am not a violent person and in fact doubt I would have the strength or skill to carry out such a threat. I was just so angry that this man thought that his behaviour was appropriate and acceptable. I NOTICE THAT THIS MAN HAS ADDED HIS NAME TO THE LIST OF ORGANISERS OF THE BIRMINGHAM SLUTWALK!

  4. 8

    Stace said,

    I just can’t believe that you got up an stage and gave a talk to 3000 people with zero notice. Well done!

    Good luck in getting the car clean 🙂


  5. 9

    Esme said,

    I was there and saw your speech, which was wonderful and strong and didn’t seem at all last minute. Thank you so much!

  6. 10

    Jane Bloggs said,

    Wow , Jane your so brave, I would die if I had to do what you did. I wish I could have been there , sounded like an amazing day 😀

  7. 11

    […] heard from writer Jane Fae who told us, “in part by way of an apology (that) men do not understand. To them rape is just […]

  8. 14

    Nick said,

    Did you mention anything about transmen as rape victims, just curious? I couldn’t get down there as I live in Scotland and the train costs an arm and a leg, but I really wanted to attend. I’m glad so many people went along and I’m really glad that there was a very diverse range of speakers. 🙂

    • 15

      janefae said,

      oh. I had about five minutes to prepare and two minute to speak. So it was VERY swift and, i am ashamed to say, i was speaking from instant experience. So-o…(and i’ll drop you a line directly as well) …if anyone would like to educate me further on this issue, please do. It strikes me as fairly obvious that trans men WOULD be in the firing line this way, but i hadn’t given it masses of thought hitherto.


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