The word “slut” has haunted me since the age of eight. Back then I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t need to. The tone of voice colored that word a shade I did not care to be. Running away from the taunting boys on the playground, I curved my spine to protect my budding breasts from the stares and giggles. Somehow it didn’t help. The word seemed to sink through my skin, deep into my soul.

Last week, a good friend told me that I walk like a slut. ”You put out that vibe, girl,” he said. He shook his head as he watched me walk. ”Quite frankly, I don’t want to hang out with you when you pull that ‘Kittyn’ thing,” he said. In a brief moment I felt that the fresh bloom of my cheeks wilt as I felt my arms wrap around my slumped chest. Keeping my eyes downcast, I changed the subject. It is not everyday that a good friend tells you that you walk like a slut.

He shook his head as if to say no wonder you always date the losers. Maybe this is the key to unlocking the questions that have been puzzling me. Maybe guys just want to sleep with me because of my behavior. Funny thing is until this point, I thought it was basic biology. We are put on earth to procreate. I have always felt guilty about the secret pleasure I feel when a cute stranger can not help but send an admiring glance my way. I have never had any use for other women’s men, but knowing that they find me attractive is an interesting observation.

I have spent decades diffusing the tension that exists between females and males. I have thought of sexuality as a powerful tool. My friend’s “slut” comment made me want to pull out the reread the man/woman manual.

Listening to my friend tell me that I walk like a slut was painful. The truth is I like the way I walk. I take control of a room when I walk into it. The question is this the price I pay for feeling that sense of power and confidence that comes from a mere walk. When I walk my natural walk, I walk like a geisha girl. Either way I am sexualized – submissive doll like creature or a sexy glamorous gal.

Photo by Roland Tanglao

I don’t think I am the only woman out there that ponders these questions. I believe women around the world wonder what makes us empowered and what wraps shame around our sexuality. There would not be an exhibition like Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution at the Vancouver Art Gallery if people did not ask those questions.

Photo by glocalproject

Representatives of three generations of my family braved the snow to meet at VAG. My cousin and two aunts dragged me out of bed to see this exhibition. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay in a coffee shop enjoy a leisurely coffee with my family. Instead I was pulled into gallery. My cousin, still jet lagged from her flight from England could not wait to see Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution.

From room to room, we looked at the various works by 120 different artists. The vast array of work surprised me. From woven pieces to pornography to video, the work varied in style. My cousin pointed out that there were several feminist revolutions. It was interesting going through the pieces with my cousin. I do not understand art. I did understand her anger. She felt that not all women were represented in this exhibition. Most of the works were from the “West”. She pointed out there were women in other parts of the world who did not want to go to work. For these women, the feminist revolution was the fight to stay home to raise their family.

Do we just see sexuality in everything or are we supposed to? Piece from Wack Art and the Feminist Revolution.

Photo by Lisa Moffat

With amusement I wondered if my goal to becoming a 1950’s style housewife might not be so far off – if I didn’t live in North America. The question remains, by embracing our sexuality have we become empowered or enslaved? Or perhaps a little bit of both? Either way, I think the exhibition is something everyone should see and ponder. If you hurry, you can still see Wack! at the Vancouver Art Gallery, up until Sunday January 11th, 2009. In the meantime, I will continue to walk with pride.