Quilt occupies US Capitol, creates healing space for survivors of rape and abuse
On a sunny, winter Saturday, 100 red quilts blanketed the lawn of the US Capitol Building with survivors’ stories of rape and abuse. In three hours, roughly 300 visitors saw the 100 quilts. The project, The Monument Quilt, is an effort to create public healing space for survivors. With the symbolic capitol dome as a backdrop, supporters of the project, passer-bys and DC tourists witnessed and honored stories of sexual violence.
One visitor stated, “The way that [the quilts] are displayed you can choose to read the stories or you can just come here and appreciate the visual effect of it. So everyone can get the experience that they want to get from it. There’s been a lot of foot traffic. Its been interesting to watch people who didn’t know about it stumble upon it and read the stories and be exposed to the message of it. I think its been a really powerful experience.”
The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse by the creative activist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. Force says, “By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal. The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how the US public responds to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.”
Force will be collecting quilt squares from survivors of rape and abuse across the country for The Monument Quilt over the next two years. In a final display, The Monument Quilt will blanket over one mile of the national mall to spell “NOT ALONE”.
Many of the 300 people who saw Saturday’s display were moved by the experience. One visitor, who found the quilt while visiting the Capitol Building, said “It’s beneficial for everyone, for the general public, to be aware and know the emotional needs of victims.”
Elaine Schleiffer, a volunteer with FORCE, stated this about shame and the quilt: “It’s something that a lot of the stories here speak to, in the quilt. A sense of shame, or silencing or not feeling community or not feeling supported by the people who are closest to you. So I think part of what the Monument Quilt accomplishes is making support public and red and giant and obvious.”
"If I had to sum up my experience of the quilt in one word, I would say the quilt was ‘safe,’” said one visitor. “As a survivor, my biggest struggle in life has been to feel safe. It’s been a struggle to feel safe in intimate relationships, and it’s been a struggle to feel safe in the presence of co-workers, or just walking down the street— I have never, in my entire life, felt it was "safe" to publicly express my grief, pain, anger, or sorrow related to the trauma that I have survived. For the first time in my life, I walked into a public space where it was safe to be a Survivor. It’s a life-altering experience that all Survivors deserve."
Each quilt is completely different, like each individual experience with sexual violence. Some quilts contain detailed stories. Some quilts contain parts of stories. Others contain messages of support or statements about sexual violence. Some squares contain no written language but are rather a landscape, an emotion, or a representation of an experience.
One quilt stated in bold letters: “2 DRUNK 2 TALK = 2 DRUNK 2 FUCK”
One survivor wrote, “Please don’t tell me it didn’t happen or that I should be over it by now.”
One story read, ““The last time I saw my step dad in person he gave me a bunch of DVD’s. Home movies he had paid someone to transfer from tape. I watched them like a detective.
I want to know what day it was, what room we were in, what time of year. What was I wearing? How did it start? I want the certainty of a memory that plays like a movie. I can feel what happened—when sex gets close to it—in a very specific way. The weight of a body, the smell of alcohol on some one’s breath. The panic inside my muscles. Fear. Paralysis. My body remembers.”
And one red square quoted a bible verse, stating, “They are extinguished. I am about to do a new thing.”
“Many survivors don’t see themselves and their experience in our media’s narrow depiction of rape. This dominant narrative silences survivors,” says Rebecca Nagle, one of the project coordinators. “US culture narrowly defines and constantly qualifies rape, so survivors are made to feel insecure about naming their experience. There is not a correct way to be raped. There is not a correct way to respond to being raped. There are not grades of rape or lesser ways to experience sexual violence. By creating an unfiltered, equal platform for survivors’ stories, we are working to upset the dominant narrative. We are creating a culture where the power of naming an experience is given back to the survivor.”
FORCE says, “The dominant narrative of rape in the United States is leaving many US residents out. Rape is not only experienced by women. Rape is not primarily experienced by adults. Rape survivors are not only white, or able-bodied or straight. A broad base of Americans are affected by rape and abuse. People experience violence, recovery, justice and access very differently based on gender, sexual orientation, class, race, citizenship and ability. When we correct our collective misconceptions of who is affected by rape, we are taking a necessary step to ending it.”
Visitors to Saturday’s display were greeted by volunteers, offered cookies and handed postcards with self-care tips to take home. A border around the installation reminded visitors to “breathe” and “its OK to cry, to talk, to leave, to be still.” “The quilt airs out emotions that are usually confined to private spaces,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE co-director. “For individuals and communities to heal from the isolating experience of sexual violence, which is so often kept hidden, we have to create a space where people can express emotions openly. Where people can feel angry. Leave. Reflect. Trauma from sexual violence is cumulative and effects just about everyone. In order collectively heal- as individuals, communities and as a country- we have to create space for people to grieve and heal and find support out in the open, in broad daylight.”
On interactive blankets visitors were invited to “SIT, WRITE, REFLECT.” Some chose to share their own experience, while others wrote down messages of support for survivors. One visitor wrote, “I will read, believe and be transformed by every story here. Because I so badly needed an ally to be there for me when I came forward with my own story.”
“These wounds ripple out over decades. Who among us is not touched by them in some way?”
The statement made on the lawn of the US Capitol Building on Saturday is only the beginning. Over the next two years, the Monument Quilt will increase in volume, reach, complexity, and impact. FORCE plans to collect thousands of quilt squares for a final display, that will blanket over one mile of the National Mall. “The vision of the Monument Quilt is huge,” says Brancato. “The only thing bigger is the need.”
For those interested in shaping this nation-wide community art project, there are many different ways to get involved. Survivors and allies can make their own quilt square. People across the country are invited to host quilt-making workshops in their school, community center, place of worship, or town. You can also volunteer time or donate money to help make this vision a reality. All the different ways to engage, resources for survivors, information about upcoming events, and more can be found at themonumentquilt.org.
The Monument Quilt @ The US Capitol Building This Saturday
Join us this Saturday, March 1st for a historic display of the Monument Quilt at the US Capitol Building in Washington DC.
March 1, 1-4pm West Lawn, US Capitol Building, Washington DC
Join FORCE for this historic display to create public healing space for survivors. At the display, attendees will be able to witness survivor’s stories, write their own reflections, enjoy cookies, listen to music and speeches, and join in community.
FORCE says, “The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal. The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how Americans respond to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed.”
The display on March 1 will be The Monument Quilt’s first appearance on our nation’s capitol. Over the next two years, FORCE plans to collect thousands more quilt squares to eventually blanket over one mile of the National Mall. The squares will be stitched together to spell “NOT ALONE”.
Join FORCE for this historic display to create public healing space for survivors. At the display, attendees will be able to witness survivor’s stories, write their own reflections, enjoy cookies, listen to music and speeches, and join in community.
Sections of the Monument Quilt will also be witnessed across the United States through quilt making workshops, regional displays and a tour. The Monument Quilt gives churches, schools, towns and our country clear and accessible steps to support survivors of rape and abuse when often, people don’t know where to begin. Through public recognition, the quilt reconnects survivors to their community.
The first display of the Monument Quilt occurred this past September in FORCE’s hometown, Baltimore. One witness commented, “[With] all the blankets gathered in the sunlight, you can feel the release, the grief and trauma airing out. Maybe you can imagine it and see the pictures and be moved, but the physical space is really different than thinking about it. You can feel the energy shifting and I didn’t realize that would happen until today.”
Get involved in 2014! Host a Consent Event for FORCE
If you’re a fan of FORCE’s work and want to get more involved, read on!
We’re looking for “Consent Event Ambassadors” to host events—dance parties, film screenings, dessert tastings, and whatever else you can think of—to raise money for the monument quilt project. Like a Tupperware party, but for dismantling rape culture.
2013 has certainly been a whirlwind year for FORCE. What started out as a humble collaboration between two Baltimore artists turned into a national movement faster than we could say, “upset rape culture”. We have come far in 2013 thanks to the support of hundreds of people like you.
Lets not forget to celebrate what we did!! Here are a few highlights from a trail-blazing, media-blitz filled year.
We made the internet explode with Pink Loves Consent!
(OK, so this panty prank technically happened in 2012, but it ended less than a year ago, so it makes the list.) Last December, FORCE pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting a new line of consent-themed, anti-rape panties. “PINK loves CONSENT” made consent go viral and sparked an internet revolution. The action and internet aftermath got millions of people talking about consent, rape culture, and the sexual empowerment of women. You can read more about the campaign and people’s reaction in this Huff Post Article.
We floated a giant poem on the reflecting pool!
On Feb 14, 2013, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture floated 44 giant Styrofoam letters in the reflecting pool to spell, “I CAN’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED BUT NO ONE ELSE REMEMBERS”. The poem, written by a survivor, highlights the isolating and silencing experience of rape in the United States. The poem was a demonstration for The Monument Project: a call to create a permanent memorial to survivors of rape and abuse.
We started a campaign for a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse. The most common trauma of women remains confined to the sphere of private life, without formal recognition or restitution from the community. There is no public monument for rape survivors. -Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery
The existing monuments on the national mall are places to honor the heroes of our history, to grieve the losses of violence, and to remember and reflect. When our nation remembers difficult parts of our history, we are better able to prevent injustice and atrocities from repeating. This important public process has not happened with sexual violence.
We believe in creating a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse because we want to live in a country that holds public space for survivors to heal. We believe in creating a national monument because we want to live in a country that believes rape can end.
With over 700 donors we raised over $26,000 for the Monument Quilt! In just two short months over 700 people donated to our kickstarter campaign to raise over $26,000 for the Monument Quilt! The Monument Quilt by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture creates public healing space by and for survivors of rape and abuse. The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors, culminating in a historic display of collected fabric squares covering one mile of the National Mall and spelling “NOT ALONE”. In the lead up to this display, FORCE is organizing quilt making workshops across the country, giving communities a clear way to support survivors of rape and abuse.
THANK YOU TO ALL OUR AMAZING SUPPORTERS!!!!!
We presented at the national sexual assault conference and at universities and conferences across the country! FORCE has been traveling across the country to teach consent workshops on college campuses. We have also been presenting about our tactics and using creative messaging at sexual assault conferences, including the National Sexual Assault Conference. Interested in bring us to your campus, conference or event? Email us at email@example.com
We fooled the internet into believing that PLAYBOY was promoting consent.
In September 2013, FORCE tricked the internet into believing that Playboy had released an updated anti-rape party school guide dubbed, “The Ultimate Guide to a Consensual Good Time.” The Top Ten Party Commandments highlighted student visionaries ringing in an era of healthy, consensual sex. As the fake website proclaimed, ” A good college party is all about everyone having a good time. Consent is all about everyone having a good time. Rape is only a good time if you’re a rapist. And fuck those people.” Playboy postponed releasing their top ten guide as a result of the action.
FORCE published their own magazine as follow-up, titled “CONSENT: A Good Time For Everyone.” The online mag offers talking points about consent and ideas for consent-promoting actions. The magazine served as inspiration for the Consent Revolution Awards, a contest in which college students across the country entered their consensual-sex promoting actions.
And now we are in the middle of our LARGEST project ever, The Monument Quilt!
The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal. The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how Americans respond to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed.
Sections of the quilt will be witnessed across the United States through a tour, quilt making workshops, and a historic display in our nation’s capitol. Blanketing over one mile of the National Mall, thousands of fabric squares will be stitched together to spell “NOT ALONE”. The Monument Quilt gives churches, schools, towns and our country clear and accessible steps to support survivors of rape and abuse when often, people don’t know where to begin. Through public recognition, the quilt reconnects survivors to their community.
In just a few short months we’ve….
- held our first public display of the quilt at Baltimore’s Penn Station. - put together a team of over 30 volunteers to work on documentation, web design, translation, workshop outreach and more! - have been donated an ENORMOUS studio space rent-free for one year, thanks to BARCO. - have fiscal sponsorship through a partnership with the Maryland Institute College of Art.
In early 2014 we will be rolling out… - a guide for hosting a workshop. - a new, interactive, bilingual website at themonumentquilt.org. - The next public display of the Monument Quilt on Vday in Washington DC.
Want to see more radical anti-rape activism in 2014? For 2014, we will also be working hard at collecting, documenting and touring the Monument Quilt. And we also have a couple tricks up our sleeves ;)! Help us make what’s next for FORCE possible with a donation TODAY!
FORCE says, “By making a square, your voice will join thousands of others to create public space where survivors are honored & supported rather than silenced & shamed.”
Along with the online and printable instructions, FORCE released how-to videos for making a quilt square. The videos emphasize that there are multiple ways to make a square, with demos for spray painting on a bed sheet (without sewing a stitch!) and piecing together a patchwork quilt. All the content can be found online at themonumentquilt.org/makeasquare.
FORCE says, “By stitching our stories together, survivors are creating and demanding public space to heal. The Monument Quilt is an organizing ground for people who have long been silenced, isolated and disempowered. Through the scale of this historic project, we can feel our collective strength.”
Sections of the historic Monument Quilt will be witnessed across the United States through quilt making workshops, a tour, and a historic display in our nation’s capitol. Blanketing over one mile of the National Mall, thousands of fabric squares will be assembled together to spell “NOT ALONE.” The Monument Quilt gives churches, schools, towns and our country clear and accessible steps to support survivors of rape and abuse when often, people don’t know where to start. Through public recognition, the quilt reconnects survivors to their community.
For many, the first step in the process of healing is the telling of what happened. The Monument Quilt creates the space for survivors to speak their truth.
“While I have long believed in the power of this action, yesterday, when I finally went to a workshop and actually made my own quilt, the emotional experience was completely beyond what I could have imagined. I really felt lifted afterwards, like a weight was literally, finally, taken off of me. And even more than finally finding the words that I have needed to say, knowing that they are and will be witnessed gives them a solidity and strength that could never be achieved otherwise.” – Anonymous quilt maker
“I’ve gone at unpacking my experience with sexual violence from many different angles. And all those angles, while stages in a long process of healing, also conveniently avoided the truth. The kind of truth that is permanent. And then one day, I bought a tacky table cloth from the dollar store. And alone one night I wrote on that ugly tablecloth in beige paint: ‘The closeness I felt towards him was always mitigated by a knowing fear. My step-dad raped me when I was in the third grade.’” — Anonymous quilt maker.
Last year when a high school student in Maryville, MO was raped by her classmate and pressed charges, her community responded by burning her house to the ground. In America, we know how to publicly shame survivors. We don’t know how to publicly support them. What if instead of tearing communities apart, rape was a trauma and a tragedy that brought communities together? What if the individual who experiences the tragedy of rape also experiences support from their communities?
“We are creating a public process of uncovering sexual assault and a community-driven response that aids in the healing process. The Monument Quilt will forever change how the American public responds to survivors of sexual violence,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE co-director.
Brancato goes on to say, “In creating space for survivors to come together, the Monument Quilt is also creating space for survivors to be radically different. Part of America’s rape culture is a monolithic and inaccurate narrative of how sexual violence happens and who it happens to. Sexual violence is not primarily perpetrated by strangers. Sexual violence is not only experienced by women. Sexual violence is not only experienced by white people. Americans experience violence, recovery, justice and access very differently based on sexual orientation, race, gender, class, citizenship and ability. By bringing together thousands of survivors’ stories the Monument Quilt creates a highly visible representation of sexual violence that is made up of many stories, not just one.”
FORCE co-director, Rebecca Nagle speaks of her own experience this way:
“I learned recently that 90% of adult arsons are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. And although I think 90% of statistics about sexual violence are a load of crap (because sexual violence is so under-reported) I agree with that fact. As a survivor, I’ve felt the primal urge to set things on fire. A rage so fierce and so deep I couldn’t name it. You can’t take back what has already been taken. And what has forever been taken from me is of equal if not greater consequence than a building burning to the ground.
Every one’s process of healing from sexual violence is very different. I cannot heal unless I feel empowered. I don’t want to be a victim. For me empowerment is an uphill battle. I was raised to be a victim by a sexual predator at an age where words like empowerment and predator were way beyond my elementary vocabulary. I am not a victim. I can’t change what happened to me. I feel empowered most, when I am changing the circumstances and the culture that created my abuse.
And while a building burning to the ground still does not feel adequate, blanketing the national mall with thousands of stories from survivors does.”
If you are interested in getting involved in The Monument Quilt by hosting a quilt making workshop or volunteering with FORCE email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. FORCE is currently looking for volunteers to help with English to Spanish translation.
College students and consent win big in the CONSENT REVOLUTION AWARDS
Consent continues to be promoted on college campuses, and this time, it’s not a hoax. College students from across the country (and even Ireld!) entered to win the CONSENT REVOLUTION AWARDS on Monday by posting on facebook photos and tidbits from promoting consent at their schools. The Grand Prize Winners are consent super stars today with national media attention from ThinkProgress, Bitch media, the Huffington Post, and others.
The contenders for the “CONSENT REVOLUTION AWARDS” entered their consensual-sex promoting actions by posting photos and descriptions to FORCE’s facebook wall. Students from across the country posted pictures of everything from underwear designs to coaster campaigns, to how-to sex-talk videos. Fans and friends voted by clicking “like”. The posts with the most “likes” won. You can view all the contest entries at facebook.com/upsettingrapeculture. In additional to national media coverage, today’s winners are also being shipped prize packs that include consent condoms, temporary tattoos, bumper stickers and stencils for marking up T-shirts, sidewalks and drawers.
“The need for consent on college campuses is no joke. Pop culture is a huge influence on how people learn about sex,” says Hannah Brancato, Co-Director of FORCE. “While mainstream media outlets like Playboy are still promoting an undergrad life-style that treats college-aged women like commodities, college students themselves are busy promoting a more equal, open and consensual version of sexuality. Consent needs and deserves a bigger media platform.”
“Enthusiastic consent is so important to teach because it is so contrary to what many people are taught and expect when growing up,” says consent revolutionary Heaven-Leigh Carey from the Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team at University of Oregon. “We live in, at best, a no means no culture, that teaches people to assume any lack of verbal resistance is equal to a full range of consent. Yes means yes and enthusiastic consent education attempts to undo years of negative media attention and patriarchal teachings, and encourages people to seek partners who not only want to have sex with them, but also who care about them wanting to have sex.”
Rebecca Nagle, Co Director of FORCE states, “The reason that the Playboy Party Commandments went SO viral is because the American facebook population is SO ready for the message. And they will keep clicking like whether that message is coming from magazines or their friends.”
With the blue-ribbon winner raking in over ONE THOUSAND likes, here are some winning campus actions to get you fired up for consensual sex and get your creative consent juices flowing.
With a brilliant graphic, multiple-pronged approach, and over 1000 facebook likes, UCLA’s 7000 in Solidarity takes first place!
UCLA’s 7000 in Solidarity gets its name from the recognizing the reality of sexual violence. According to their facebook page, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will have survived sexual violence in college. That means 7,000 Bruins will be survivors of sexual assault by the time they leave the university.”
Students who want to stand in solidarity with their peers can pledge to
“1) Only Engage in Consensual Sexual Activities
2) Be an Effective Bystander in Preventing Others from Acting Without Consent
3) Support Survivors of Sexual Assault”
#2 All Students For Consent (aka ASC) at Whitman College Students at Whitman college turned the victim-blaming phrase “asking for it” on its head to promote consent. “The purpose of the campaign was to put a twist on the insulting phrase that has often been used in victim blaming, such as, “She was asking for it by wearing that miniskirt,” in which the “it” is sexual violence. However, we wanted the “it” to mean “consent” so that when people are asking for “it,” what they are asking for is consent!”
On “Ask For it Day students chalked up sidewalks, poster-ed up bulletin boards and gave students consensual kisses (chocolate of course!). The event culminated in students sharing their consent stories and receiving “I ask for it” temporary tattoos!
#4: Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team at University of Oregon SWAT is doing so much to promote consent, they couldn’t pick one action to enter. We pooled their likes to give the team fourth place. From coaster campaigns, to videos highlighting sex-positive communication these undergrads got it going on! Check out all they are doing at swat.uoregon.edu.
The “10 prevention tips guaranteed to work” were printed on coasters and distributed to bars and restaurants throughout Eugene as part of the ASUO Women’s Center’s Redzone campaign. The Redzone refers to the first six weeks of the fall term when sexual assault is statistically more common on college campuses. The coasters change the common message that tells people to avoid getting raped, and instead tells potential perpetrators to not rape.
“We know that is rare to actually see people having honest conversations, and we wanted to show our peers that getting consent and talking about sex doesn’t have to be awkward! A variety of ways for college students to negotiate sex can be seen on SWAT’s website.
The “That’s What She Said/ He Said” social media campaign was created in order to reclaim a derogatory joke and display the necessity of communication and consent. These posters aim to show that consent is not only sexy but also necessary.
#5: I Always Get Consent at ASU According to their entry, “For the past four years, this program has educated the largest campus in the country about what sexual assault is, how to prevent sexual violence, and the importance of defying rape culture.”
Last year, “I Always Get Consent” got over 1,000 college students like consent in person with consensual cardio classes, movie screenings, T-shirts, an interactive presentation about challenging rape culture.
They say, “Consent is sexy, and we’ve made it our job to spread the word.”
As the first place winner, Savannah Badalich from UCLA had this to say about the contest: "This campaign [7000 in Solidarity] means the world to me, so I cannot thank you enough for the publicity and help with spreading the message of consent."
Consent enthusiasts at Whitman College mobilized their peers for the contest to take second place. “I was able to get about half of my entire college campus to “like” our photo,” said Sayda Morales from All Student For Consent. Because Whitman is a smaller school their nearly 1,000 “likes” is actually over half of the student population. While the school took second in the national contest, at Whitman, consent clearly wins the day.
“When that student pointed out that she had mobilized over half of her campus, I thought ‘THAT’S AMAZING!’” says Brancato. “That at one college campus, not just consent, but the effort to promote consent and make it mainstream is so important to students that over half of them clicked like on one single facebook photo. It gives me so much hope that consent not only can, but will be popular. And that our culture will see the day when sexual pleasure and empowerment is more common that sexual violence and coercion.”
In addition to the CONSENT REVOLUTION AWARDS, the Playboy hacktivists also published their own magazine titled “CONSENT: A Good Time For Everyone”. The slick online mag offers talking points about consent, a quiz to rate your school and ideas for consent-promoting actions.
100 red quilts create public space for survivors of rape and abuse
100 red quilts create public space for survivors of rape and abuse
In the bright afternoon sun 100 bright red quilts occupied the center plaza at Baltimore’s Penn Station. Each quilt contained a story from a survivor of rape and abuse or a message of support. For five hours this Sunday, a sea of red fabric altered the stark concrete landscape and created a highly visible space to honor the experiences of survivors. Visitors interacted with the quilts, read survivors’ stories and joined in community.
The event on Sunday was the first public display of historic project The Monument Quilt. Over the next year, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is collecting 6,000 quilts from survivors and allies across the United Stated. In summer of 2014, the collected quilts will blanket the lawn of the national mall.
“For survivors, the first step towards healing is the telling of what happened,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE co director. “As long as the telling of such stories is ignored or forbidden in our culture, we are hindering the process for millions of survivors to heal. By creating this quilt, we are creating the cultural space where people who have long carried a trauma in silence, may speak their truth.”
“I personally did a quilt. It was so amazing,” said Nick Jones on Sunday. “Because we were talking about our experiences as survivors together. And we also had this creative space and this open space to be heard.”
In the early morning a crew of volunteer arrived at Penn Station, began unfolding blankets and laying them out in the plaza. “Opening the blankets and laying them out releases the burden of the survivor in a way that is really tangible,” said one volunteer. “All the blankets gathered in the sunlight, you can feel the release, the grief and trauma airing out. Maybe you can imagine it and see the pictures and be moved, but the physical space is really different than thinking about it. You can feel the energy shifting and I didn’t realise that would happen until today.”
The quilts displayed this Sunday were made locally in churches, community centers, colleges and living rooms. During a quilt making workshop at the Spiritual Empowerment Center this past August, participants stitched fabric, wrote messages of support and recounted their own person stories. One workshop participant, Deletta Gillespie, said at the display, “It’s really gratifying knowing that I had a part of it. To see people walk by and they look at the quilt and you see their reaction.”
Many of the Sunday’s visitors came to see the quilt, while many others were simply passing by. “As people passed by and found out about the quilt their reactions were very positive. It dispels the myth that we can’t talk about rape in public. The public is ready for it. Some of the most excited people were the people who just stumbled upon it,” observed Rebecca Nagle, FORCE co director.
In a key-note address FORCE stated, “Rape is not a special interest issue that affects a few people. Rape is a social justice issue that affects everyone.”
“This space is really moving,” said attendee Alexa Richardson. “It is incredibly powerful to see the stories juxtaposed in a public space. It’s heartfelt and community driven. I feel, as I think everyone here feels, really excited about the impact of the final quilt.”
If the Monument Quilt, and the space it is creating, moves you in any way, you may get involved in creating the final vision. Anyone can make a blanket that contains a personal story or a message of support for survivors of rape and abuse. For instructions on how to create and submit a blanket visit http://upsettingrapeculture.com/quilt_instructions.pdf. Organizations including churches, schools, community centers and social groups are invited to host quilt making workshops. For more information about hosting a quilting workshop email email@example.com.
You can also help The Monument Quilt with material needs. To donate using Paypal, please visit upsettingrapeculture.com and click the donate button. Over 700 people donated $26,000 to the Monument Quilt’s Kickstarter this past summer. FORCE estimates they need to raise another $50,000 to create and display the final quilt.
FORCE is also looking for a large work and storage space in Baltimore from Nov 2013 through Nov 2014 and donations of fabric and sewing machines. If interested in making a material donation contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first display of the Monument Quilt was made possible by the Maryland Institute College of Art Fibers Department, MICA Curatorial Practice Program, Congregate, The Spiritual Empowerment Center, Station North Arts and Entertainment District, and the Research Associates Foundation. Special thanks to the many volunteers who helped during workshops, sew-a-thons, and the display itself. Photography by Casey McKeel and Theresa Keil. Video by David Sloan.
FORCE says, “Thank you to everyone who has trusted us with their stories and contributed in the most courageous way to forever changing how our country treats survivors of rape and abuse.”
A week ago, the internet exploded with the proclamation that Playboy had re-invented its annual party school list in response to the predominance of rape on college campuses. The re-invented “2013 Top Ten Party Commandments” chose to focus on consent boldly stating “A good college party is all about everyone having a good time. Consent is all about everyone having a good time. Rape is only a good time if you’re a rapist. And f—- those people.” As has been reported by the Huffington Post, NY Magazine, Salon and other media outlets, the party commandments were an elaborate hoax plotted to promote consent. The stunt was carried off by a national network of consent-conspiring college students and the feminist activist group FORCE. The viral internet hoax succeeded in getting millions of people talking about campus sex culture, good times and consent.
FORCE, the group behind the hoax, believes the consent revolution “is at hand”. They say, “we are at the beginning of a new sexual revolution that is replacing sexual coercion and violence with sexual pleasure and empowerment.”
If the response to last week’s consent hoax is any indication, people are ready for said revolution. The internet saw way more enthusiasm for the spoof “Ultimate Guide for a Consensual Good Time” than for Playboy’s actual top party school list. Tens of thousands of people praised the consent commandments on social media. The comment section at partywithplayboy.com is filled with “Thank you” and “About time”.
Where did this outpouring of positive support come from?
FORCE says, “People are ready for the consent revolution. People are already making it happen. What’s missing isn’t popular support for consent, it’s popular media outlets. The culture of enthusiastic yes should be more visible than the culture of blurred lines. Luckily the other thing people are ready for and already making is their own media.”
CONSENT, The College Issue is an antidote to mainstream media. To further encourage people to help bring on this consent cultural change, FORCE is hosting the CONSENT REVOLUTION AWARDS! Consent enthusiasts from across the country are invited to enter for a chance to win a shot at fame and free condoms.
According to the official consent rules, by simply posting photographs of inspiring and creative consent promoting actions college students can enter to win both “Consent Super Stardom (Your AMAZING action will be featured on Bitch Media, Think Progress and Huffpo!) and a shipment of Goodies (including consent condoms, temporary tats, bumper stickers and stencils for marking up T-shirts, sidewalks and drawers)!
How does one enter to win a consent revolution award? Again, the official contest rules state:
1. Think of a brilliant, memorable, inspiring action to promote consent on your campus.
For ideas and tips flip through the pages of CONSENT: The College Issue. There you will find a quiz to guide your campus needs, things to try and practical tools. Your action could be a consent themed cheer at the Homecoming game’s half time! It could be a compelling poster campaign, an instantly viral hash-tagged meme, something you are planning to do, haven’t thought of yet, or have already done!
2. Post a photo of whatcha did! On Oct 7 between 9am and 9pm EST post a photo of your consent action on FORCE’s Facebook page at facebook.com/upsettingrapeculture. Be sure to include a brief description of the action, the name of your school, and the name of your group or campaign.
3. Get the Most likes! The consent campaign that gets the most likes on Oct 7 wins! (Hint: telling your friends to like and share your post helps.)
The College Issue of CONSENT: A Good Time for Everyone is available for free at upsettingrapeculture.com/mag. The online publication includes such goodies as “Rate Your School: Find Out What Your Campus Needs”. Using a cosmo-style quiz college students can survey what kind of consent campus they attend and find tools and suggestions for their particular campus. The campuses are ranked according to the quiz and fall into categories such as “Preaching to the Choir” or “My school is a nightmare!”
For “Consent is nice in theory, but gets lost in practice” the magazine reads…
“Students at your school have attended the workshop, read the handbook, and seen the informational poster. They know what consent is. But when it comes to asking first with their Saturday night smooch, they’re a little lost. Time to share some everyday examples of consent in motion. Go to page 12 and check out the ‘This is Consent’ photo campaign.”
When the reader flips to page 12, they find a spread about consent activist Brittney Elizabeth Williams and her photo project “This is Consent”. In an in-house interview Williams says this about her project:
“I hope it teaches everyone that consent is fun and in no way cumbersome. I hope that it shows people that consent is universal, and I want This Is Consent to remove any negative connotation from the word ‘No.’ There’s nothing wrong with saying no or accepting ‘no.’”
“For consent to be a truly mainstream and common practice, it needs to be part of the sexual culture on college campuses,” says Hannah Brancato co director FORCE, about why they are hosting the Revolution Awards. “Consent needs to be part of campus hook up culture. If you only learn about consent in an auditorium, it will be hard to put into practice in the heat of the moment. But if consent is also surrounding students in their party culture and in their social spheres, it is more likely to sink in. College students are the best people to teach other college students about how enthusiastic, consensual sex is the best sex. College students are the best people to lead the consent revolution on their campuses!”
Yesterday, Playboy publicized the content of their college issue, which included a photo spread of undergraduate women from the PACT 12. The magazine spoke of some of the college women they featured thusly, “This pair of WSU Cougars is so hot we had to hose them down.” While Playboy gives college students a media platform with which they can take off their clothes, FORCE is giving college students a media platform with which they can promote consent.
While Playboy is desperately trying to be current the publication is glaringly backwards. Their most recent October issue also contains such highlights as “You should never look down on someone unless they are giving you a blowjob”. The rape joke feels almost as antiquated as the rare coin collections populating Playboy’s noticeably sparse outside advertisements. Overall, the magazine is struggling with a dwindling readership, the decline of print media and a cultural message that was more popular 50 years ago than it is today.
“Just like print media is a dwindling position in pop culture, so is equating pretty women to good food,” says FORCE. “The mainstream media is still selling us the same version of sex that they were 30 years ago. Hugh Hefner may have pushed the last sexual revolution in this country, but he is missing this one. The reason that the positive consent jams that FORCE creates go SO viral is because the American facebook population is SO ready for the message. And they will keep clicking like whether that message is coming from magazines or their friends.”
Katya Palsi, from the campus group PACT5 has this to say about the comparison:
“During the social media launch it was so exciting to see the positive reactions of my peers. At the same time it felt bittersweet knowing that Playboy wasn’t actually behind it. Our culture needs influential leaders, like Playboy and other enterprises, to step up and change the conversation. The excitement generated by this just shows how ready we are as a society for a cultural shift - the stage is set, now all we need are the performers.”
“We are not waiting for the mainstream media to figure it out. We are creating our own media to ring in the consent revolution!” says FORCE.
During the day-long frenzy, the 5 mock sites were receiving over 3,000 hits an hour. At the time of this release the fake Huffpo site had 5k facebook likes and counting.
By early evening, Playboy Enterprises, Inc had been contacted about their shocking move and their official spokesperson declared that they “weren’t behind it”. Brobible.com and several other websites speculated that the “Ultimate Guide to A Consensual Good Time” was created by the same group that made last year viral Victoria’s Secret panty prank.
And they all were almost right.
While FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture was in on the prank, the consent campaign was mostly carried out by a national conspiracy of college students. Students from over 25 school across the country banded together to create the historic hoax. Consent enthusiasts hosted consent-themed tailgating parties, played games of “Ask First” beer pong, and excitedly pushed the prank on facebook and twitter, which is how it exploded all over the internet on Tuesday.
While hundreds of college students were in on the hoax, the main culprits (and the ones that enthusiastically consented to having their names released to the media) are, drum roll please…
Maria Romas from University of Maryland, Cinneah El-Ahmin from Columbia, Arianna Rose from Hampshire College, Sophie Hess at Oberlin, Meghana Kulkarni at University of Michigan, Kelsey Yale at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Lily Manganiello from Skidmore, Dasha Burns from University of California Berkeley, and Katya Palsi member of PACT5 and from Rowan University.
(And yes, reporters, these co-conspirators are available for questioning. Rather than trolling the internet for their contact information, you may email us at email@example.com and we will gladly share the email addresses we have consent to share.)
Here is some of what the activists have to say about yesterday’s hoax:
"All day I’ve been overhearing people talk to each other about the article thinking that it was real. What I heard was really surprising. I thought that people would be dubious at best. But not only did they totally buy it, they loved it, saying it was refreshing, real, and ‘about time.’ The whole process has made me realize that as easy as it is for people to believe negative sexual messages from the media, it’s also just as easy for them to believe positive ones. It’s both sad and exciting to move on to the next stage of the game, where we’ll have to acknowledge that mainstream conversation around consent really isn’t actually happening, even though it could and should be." - Sophie Hess, Oberlin
"I was so surprised at the instant response on my news feed! Friends from all over the country were liking and reposting the link. Such a widespread movement promoting consent was long overdue!" - Cinneah El-Ahmin, Columbia
“Our culture needs influential leaders, like Playboy and other enterprises, to step up and change the conversation. The excitement generated by this just shows how ready we are as a society for a cultural shift.” - Katya Palsi member of PACT5 and from Rowan University.
Beyond recognizing that our culture is ready for change, these student activists are already creating it.
Kelsey Yale, a senior at University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the slogan and organization “Badgers Get Consent”. Praised under Top Ten Party School Commandment III, they are printing boxers and condoms that say things like “consent is the first thing I do with my mouth”. Kelsey says, “We work hard to promote consent culture on campus. We may not have succeeded in ending rape culture, but we are well on our way!”
As these college students show, the culture of consent is already out there. As Yesterday’s response to the Playboy jam shows, its, in fact, already popular. Hopefully, the gap between the messages that people want and the messages that people get about consent and sex will continue to shrink.
Going to college should make it more likely for you to graduate with a job. It should not make it more likely for you to graduate with the trauma of sexual assault. With 1 in 4 female undergrads being assaulted while they are in school, obtaining a bachelors degree in this country comes with an untenable high level of violence. All college students, male, female and gender queer, deserve better.
FORCE says, “While Playboy’s pretend declaration ‘Rape is only a good time if you are a rapist and f—- those people’ may sounds flippant, in some ways the verbiage is spot-on. While rape is an infinitely complicated social issue, the truth that rape is wrong is completely simple. The more comfortable we can get as a culture in calling out rape for what it is, the less space it has to breath.”
Both the Huffington Post and BroBible wrote about their sites being hacked, with BroBible stating that they “agree with the overall messaging… The world is safe for bros to be feminists too.” According to the solo-cup-votes on the fakebrobibles.com, the world is safe for feminists to be bro, too. Cheers to you in solidarity!!
What is Playboy saying? While they have told reporters that the site was not theirs they also told partywithplayboy.com’s server to take it down. Trying to take down a website that is getting thousands upon thousands of people excited about consensual sex? Sounds like a party foul to us! We here at consent conspiring headquarters have one thing to say to Playboy: why not join the consent party, already??!?!! Of course you’re invited! Consent is for everyone!
YOU can help us recruit powerful media outlets for the consent revolution by telling @Playboy why they should join the fun by helping us celebrate empowering, pleasurable and consensual sex.
MORE ABOUT FORCE The web genius that had the internet fooled is hacktivist magician Dan Staples. He also collaborated with FORCE to create pinklovesconsent.com.
Force: Upsetting Rape Culture is an art and activist effort to upset the culture of rape and promote a counter culture of consent. We believe that a more difficult and honest conversation needs to happen in America to face the realities of sexual violence, and we envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent. To promote this needed conversation, we create art actions to generate media attention and get millions of people talking.
Whats next for FORCE? In summer of 2014, we are blanketing the mall with a GIANT quilt made of up of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. The Monument Quilt will create highly visible, public space where survivors are honored and supported instead of silenced and shamed.
The Monument Quilt is a HUGE project and we are looking for lots of people to get involved. As you can tell, we like working with folks from across the country! If you’re interested, get in touch.
Story submission method for the Monument Quilt changing Sept 15
Force is gearing up to collect and make thousands of blankets for The Monument Quilt. In preparation for this big job we are going analog!! Starting Sept 15, we will switch from accepting digital stories on tumblr to collecting quilted stories via good ol’ fashioned snail mail. If digital is your preferred method of story submission, we are still accepting digital submission until Sept 15 atwww.themonumentproject.org.
Have you been interested in getting involved with FORCE? Now is the time! We are looking for volunteers and/or interns to fill a variety of positions between Fall 2013-Fall 2014, to work on producing the Monument Quilt.
If you are interested in having one of the below long-term roles in making this historic quilt a reality please email your resume and a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 15, 2013.
FORCE’s newest initiative is to create a monument to survivors of rape and abuse—a giant picnic blanket made of survivor’s stories—to be displayed on the National Mall in the summer of 2014. The installation will create a public and highly visible cultural space in which survivors’ stories are honored and respected instead of silenced and shamed. The Monument Quilt and conversations it inspires will create public understanding of what it will take to make a permanent monument possible. This project is part of a movement to build a permanent monument to survivors of rape and abuse.
Fall 2013-Summer 2014
Time Commitment: 5-10 hrs/wk, negotiable.
FORCE is seeking corporate sponsorship and grants to produce next summer’s project.
The development assistant will:
research sources for donations
draft and edit grant proposals for various aspects of the project
Fall 2013 - Summer 2014
Time Commitment: 20hrs/ week, varying week to week.
Organizations and community groups across the country will host workshops that invite people to make “quilt squares” for the giant picnic blanket. Using the model of the AIDS quilt, churches, schools, community centers, and social groups will get together and make quilt squares.
The workshop coordinator will:
share the workshop template created by FORCE with organizations locally and nationally
outreach to churches, schools, and other social groups to encourage national participation in the Monument Quilt
be a resource for organizations that are hosting a workshop and have a question or need support
After organizations have made a section of the quilt the coordinator will organize the collection and cataloguing of their quilt squares.
Quilt Square Archivist:
Oct 2013 - June 2013
Time Commitment: 10-20 hrs per week, flexible. Summer 2014: 40/hrs week.
The Quilt Square Archivist will be in charge of coordinating documenting and archiving the collected quilt squares. They will:
receive and catalogue quilt squares that are mailed in.
work with the Workshop Coordinator and the Quilt Production Coordinator to ensure the quilts made by organizations and in-house are each documented
organize a digital archive of the quilt.
work with the Graphic Designer and the Documentation Intern to put the digital archive online.
Oct 2013 - July 2014
Time commitment: Flexible, with initial design stages in fall 2014 to create a template for people to submit quilt squares; and production time in early summer 2014.
The graphic designer will create a graphic identity for the Monument Quilt, and use it to:
design and produce signage for the picnic
design and produce a map/ brochure for the picnic
design and produce the project’s website
The graphic designer would also work or delegate the work of digitally cataloguing of all the collected stories.
SPRING AND SUMMER 2014
January 2014-September 2014
Jan 2014 - May 2014: low time commitment. 5-10hrs/ week and not every week.
May - August 2014: High time commitment. 20hrs/ week every week
August -September 2014: 40 hrs/ week. During the event and in the weeks leading up to the event, the coordinator should expect to work 40+ hours per week.
The event coordinator would be in charge of producing the weekend-long public picnic. This includes:
obtaining permits from the park service
renting/buying tents and other needed equipment
recruiting, coordinating, and scheduling volunteers
securing donations of food
coordinating all rented equipment
coordinating a system for crowd-sourced events during the picnic
Event Coordinator Assistant:
January 2014-September 2014
Time Commitment: 20 hrs/wk, with full time commitment during weeks leading to the event.
The Event Coordinator’s Assistant will work closely with the event coordinator to produce the weekend long picnic. The Event Coordinator Assistant will:
assist and train event volunteers as needed
organize the distribution of food during the weekend long picnic
schedule daily, crowd-organized events during the weekend long picnic, including teach-ins, poetry readings, support groups, and more.
Quilt Production Designer and Coordinator:
Jan 2014 - July 2014
Time commitment: 20hrs/ week. 40 hrs/week when we have big volunteer sewing days, in the final production times during June and July, and during the week of the picnic.
The quilt production coordinator would be in charge of making sections of the quilt containing the stories that were submitted via the website. The stories will be digitally printed on fabric and sewn onto quilt squares. In the spring of 2014 there will be large volunteer work days and weeks that the Quilt Production Designer will organize.
The quilt production coordinator will:
organize large volunteer events, as well as smaller work days to finish the quilt.
design systems for volunteers to use to sew mass numbers of blankets
create the system by which the quilt is laid out and staked down on the national mall for the 2014 picnic
PRESS and Public Relations:
20hrs/week: 2 months prior to picnic.
40hrs/week week of and week after picnic.
The PR person will be responsible for:
sending out the press release
promoting the picnic on social media.
Documentation/ archiving Intern:
Jan 2014 - June 2014
Time Commitment: 10 hrs/week, flexible. Week of picnic: 40hrs/ week
The Documenting and archiving intern will coordinate the documentation of the making of the quilt, the public picnic, as well as assisting the Quilt Square Archivist in cataloguing each quilt square.
The intern will:
assist Quilt Square Archivist as needed
collect video documentation of volunteers working on the quilt, volunteers setting up the picnic, the public visiting the picnic and interviews.
produce short, 2-3 minute promotional videos between January 2014-July 2014 to encourage people to send in quilt squares, donate money, or get involved in other ways
assist with the production of a 20-30 min video about the Monument Quilt
FORCE launches new website to uplift and honor stories from survivors of rape and abuse
New website creates a public platform for survivors of rape and abuse to share their stories.
TheMonumentProject.org is an online and public platform where the experiences of survivors of rape and abuse are shared, respected, and honored.
In a grid of red squares across a background of green grass, phrases begin the stories of sexual violence:
“Because when I was six”
“I’m one of those people who was betrayed by some one I knew.”
“I don’t want any one else to suffer in silence.”
Upon clicking on each phrase, the site’s visitors can read more. Some stories unfold to explain the incident of violence, some retell a process of healing, and many speak to the injustice and burden of carrying sexual trauma alone and in silence.
While survivors are sharing their grief and their pain, there is also a collective sense of relief. Included in many of the stories is how the act of sharing is healing:
As one survivors states: “First of all I would like to thank you for not only providing a means through which stories of sexual assault and rape may be shared, but honored and respected. It’s a violation and crime, which is all too commonplace and yet also silenced and shamed. Thank you.”
For survivors of any trauma, the first step towards healing is the telling of what happened. As long as the telling of such stories is ignored or forbidden in our culture, we are hindering the process for millions of survivors to heal. By creating this online platform,FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture (the group behindthe site) is creating the cultural space where people who have long carried a trauma in silence, may speak their truth.
Survivors are not the only ones benefiting from this process. Speaking and hearing the truth is not only healing for survivors, but also for communities. In our schools, churches, towns and cities, the violence of rape and sexual abuse lies just under the surface.
Nagle goes on to say, “There are many things that our culture would like to pretend about rape. We would like to pretend that it happens most often to adults rather than children. We would like to pretend that the perpetrators are most often strangers, rather than friends, family and neighbors. We would like to pretend that rape is a rare and horrifying occurrence, rather than an ever day, lived reality. If our country never stops pretending that rape is something that it is not, we will never stop it from happening. Our hope in sharing these stories is that, collectively, our country can face the reality of sexual violence and take the first step towards ending it.”
Most Americans have heard statistics about rape and sexual abuse. The 1-in-4 and 1-in-3 statistics have been publicly stated for over 40 years, and yet in those 40 years the numbers haven’t changed.
“What our country needs to publicly recognize is more than a number that rolls off the tongue,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE’s co-director. “It is the lived experiences of survivors. Listening to these stories will give our country the pause we need to re-examine ourselves, to change what we are doing and to end rape.”
Recently our country has heard the stories Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott, two teenagers whose young lives ended in suicide. When you listen to their stories, their death was as much a result of gossip, lack of justice, and public shaming as it was their gang rapes.
“Until we create public space where the experiences of survivors is honored, Americans’ reactions will continue to do more harm than good, for a population that has already experienced enough,” says Brancato.
The need to change the public reaction to sexual violence is echoed in one survivor’s story: “In no other crime is the emotional burden—the shame, the guilt—placed on the victim. When I was mugged, no one blamed me for being mugged. I did not become defined as a person who had been mugged. I do not hesitate to tell people that I have been mugged. I hesitate to tell people that I have been sexually abused. And I’ve said it 100 times. I’m a public anti-rape activist who has talked publicly about her experiences and still- STILL- every time I speak it and every time I put pen to paper I have to overcome the feeling of hot shame. I am worried that I will be judged. I am worried that people will look at me differently. I don’t want my co-workers to know. I don’t want my family to know. I think I will live with these feeling of shame for the rest of my life. They are too old and too engrained. I hope that our culture will change so that future survivors will not feel the same burden that I feel.”
While the stories will forever live at themonumentproject.org, next summer they will also be displayed in an epic quilt on the national mall. “The Monument Quilt” will occupy the lawn of the national mall, like the historic installations of the AIDs quilt. The quilt will also be a GIANT picnic blanket that invites the public to sit, eat and talk. The installation will create a public and highly visible cultural space in which survivors’ stories are honored and respected instead of silenced and shamed.
Force says, “We believe in building a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse because we want to live in a country that holds public, supportive space for survivors to heal. We believe a monument will become a symbol for our nation that rape can and must end.”
FORCE is currently fundraising to make the epic The Monument Quilt a reality. They are in the last 72 hours of their KickStarter campaign. With the Kickstarter over 90% funded, they have until June 22 to reach their goal. Click here to pitch in.
Rape and abuse survivors’ stories to create giant quilt for National Mall.
A Baltimore-based art and activist group has announced that it is collecting stories from survivors of rape and abuse to create a giant quilt for the national mall. “The Monument Quilt” will occupy the lawn of the national mall, like the historic installations of the AIDs quilt for one weekend in the summer of 2014. The quilt will also be a GIANT picnic blanket that invites the public to sit, eat and talk. Add you story at themonumentproject.org.
“The installation of the Monument Quilt on the national mall will create a public and highly visible cultural space in which survivors’ stories are honored and respected instead of silenced and shamed,” says Rebecca Nagle, co-director of FORCE. “The picnic and public conversations that happen around The Monument Quilt will show Americans that speaking more openly and publicly about sexual violence is not only OK- but necessary to ending rape to rape.”
With rape in the national spotlight, Americans have watched how our schools, towns and communities respond to sexual violence. From slut-shaming to death threats, recent news stories have highlighted the disturbing reality of how Americans treat survivors of sexual violence. Our country has heard the stories Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott, two teenagers whose young lives ended in suicide. When you listen to their stories, their death was as much a result of gossip, lack of justice, and public shaming as it was their gang rapes.
FORCE says, “Until we create public space where the experiences of survivors is honored, Americans’ reactions will continue to do more harm than good, for a population that has already experienced enough harm.”
The Monument Quilt is reminiscent of the NAMES project, a community quilt memoralizing those that had died from AIDs. According to FORCE, AIDs activism can be used as a model for fighting rape in more ways than just the historic AIDs quilt:
“At the beginning of the HIV/AIDs epidemic, the shame of the disease was placed on the ill. Homophobia fueled a country that blamed gay people for contracting the disease. America was ready to sweep one of the largest public health crises under the rug. Through public demonstrations like the AIDS quilt, advocates created public space where the ill and their loved ones no long had to live in silence and shame. This helped change public opinion, so that Americans were no longer hostile toward those with AIDs. Changing public opinion ultimately made way for new policies, better drugs, education, and prevention; all of which has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the rate of infection and death. While the work of preventing AIDs is not over, the movement is a model for how a cultural shift can affect public health. Just as removing the stigma from AIDs slowed a growing epidemic, removing the stigma from rape could forever change the epidemic of sexual violence in the United States.”
The Monument Quilt will not be a simple rectangle, but rather blankets assembled in the shapes of words writing a message for survivors and our nation. Giant fabric letters, laid out on the national mall will say,
“WE ARE HEARD.
THIS IS NOT OUR FAULT.
WE ARE NOT ALONE.”
“These statement represent the cultural shifta that need to take place in our country,” says Hannah Brancato, co-director of FORCE. “Today, in our country, the most common experience for survivors is to feel blamed, silenced and isolated. To change this we need to tell survivors, in a very public way ‘You are not alone. This is not your fault.’”
The Monument Quilt is part of an ongoing campaign to build a permanent monument to survivors of rape and abuse.
“We believe in building a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse because we want to live in a country that holds public, supportive space for survivors to heal,” says Brancato. “We believe a permanent monument will become a beacon for our nation, symbolizing that rape can and must end.”
The author of that poem says this about the need for a permanent memorial:
“There are no safe places to talk about my experience. People look at me with pity, or they associate what happened to me with the choices I made, when I do tell my story. I know I am not alone in my inability to define my experiences and even now, I do not completely understand them. A lot of my healing process has been internal. A public memorial would create both a physical space and a psychological space that does not exist in our culture—one where survivors are not blamed or judged, but rather are honored and respected for their ability to survive and thrive through trauma and shame, where they do not need to learn to live with part of their identity hidden, and where their character is not judged by their assault.”
While the group is campaigning to build a permanent monument on the mall, they are building a virtual monument online. Launching this summer, themonumentproject.org will be an online quilt containing survivors’ stories. The virtual quilt will create another important forum for the truth to surface. Survivors are already sending in stories that speak to the burden of shame and the need for a monument.
As one survivor puts it,
“In no other crime is the emotional burden—the shame, the guilt—placed on the victim. When I was mugged, no one blamed me for being mugged. I did not become defined as a person who had been mugged. I do not hesitate to tell people that I have been mugged. I hesitate to tell people that I have been sexually abused.”
To add your story to the historic Monument Quilt email it to email@example.com with the subject line “My Story”. For the quilt, please include what color you would like your square to be.
The Monument Project is a call to create a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse. We believe in building a national monument because our country needs public and supportive spaces for survivors to heal. We believe a monument will symbolize that rape can and must end.
As an art and activist campaign, FORCE is installing temporary monuments to survivors of rape and abuse on the national mall as a call to create a permanent monument. Next summer, we plan to install a large-scale quilt containing stories from survivors. This quilt will be a GIANT Picnic Blanket that invites the public to sit, eat and talk. For one weekend, our picnic will occupy the mall, like the historic installations of the AIDS quilt. The installation will create a public and highly visible cultural space in which survivors’ stories are honored and respected instead of silenced and shamed. The picnic and conversations will create the public understanding that will make a permanent monument possible.
To create this picnic blanket, we need your support. Today, we launched a Kickstarter campaign, with which we are hoping to raise enough money to buy the materials needed to create a quilt of survivors’ stories. Please consider donating to the project and help make this historic demonstration possible.
Because its Kickstarter, in addition to helping FORCE, you also get awesome prizes like temporary tattoos, consent-themed pillow cases, and even a creative consultation with the brainiacs behind the Victoria’s Secret Culture Jam! And don’t forget to tell your friends and spread the word! Sharing this email with friends and family or posting about it on facebook will also help us reach our goal!
FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is an artistic and activist effort to upset the culture of rape and promote a counter-culture based on consent. We believe that a more difficult and honest conversation needs to happen in America to face the realities of sexual violence, and we envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent. To promote this needed conversation, we create art actions to generate media attention and get millions of people talking. According to the Huffington Post, “Force is doing a good and creative job with a hard-to-digest topic, capturing the public imagination with their tactics.”
Meet Us On the Street! Sunday, Dupont Circle, 2-4pm
FORCE will be participating in the kick off event for Meet Us On the Street, an international week of action to end street harassment, this Sunday, April 7 @ Dupont Circle from 2-4pm. There will be anti-street harassment sidewalk chalking! Join FORCE and participate in our new project, This Is Consent, and Rape Will End When….
And join in on all of the great events happening in DC next week! More info here below…
GIANT LETTERS FLOAT IN REFLECTION POOL TO SPELL CALL FOR NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO SURVIVORS OF RAPE AND ABUSE.
GIANT LETTERS FLOAT IN REFLECTION POOL TO SPELL CALL FOR NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO SURVIVORS OF RAPE AND ABUSE.
Giant styrofoam letters state “I CAN’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED BUT NO ONE ELSE REMEMBERS” in the national reflecting pool. The poem, written by a survivor, highlights the isolating and silencing experience of rape in the United States. The action is a call to create a permanent memorial to survivors of rape and abuse.
FORCE, the group behind the action states, “We want to build a national memorial to survivors, because we want to live in a country that holds public and supportive space for survivors to heal. We want to build a national memorial to survivors because we want to live in a country that believes rape can and must end.”
The call to build the permanent memorial started on a warm February day with about 20 volunteers unloading enormous letters from a rented U-HAUL van. The red letters were strapped together to create a giant raft. After gathering for a photo on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the group pushed the poem into the reflecting pool among cheers, cameras, and a crowd of curious tourists.
“I’ve never seen anything like that floating in the reflecting pool and I’ve lived in or around DC my whole life,” said one observer. “So I was very drawn to it. It was a beautiful message and it was a haunting message.”
Two friends, visiting from Utica, NY, paused to look at the letters and talk to the people putting them together. “Its a topic that sometimes gets swept under the rug, so I think bringing it to terms, doing what you’re doing with making a memorial, helps bring awareness to rape and sexual abuse,” said one man. “Getting it out there and making sure that those people aren’t alone: everyone has a heart for that.”
His friend stated, “It shows that we can all come together and be one nation and do what we have to do to get everybody aware of what’s going on in the world.”
“The most compelling part for me was watching the tourists react,” said a volunteer down from Baltimore to help for the day. “All these people were taking photos. Families talked about it. This man on a rented bicycle stopped and asked questions. For about an hour and and a half, it was part of people’s regular visit to the mall. I could kind of see how such a thing would work. I think people would really respect it.”
Recently, rape has dominated the headlines. News stories have covered the Penn State trials, the off-color comments of politicians (see Todd Akin’s legitimate rape statement), a gang rape and ensuing protests in India, and the social-media documented rape and repeated sexual assault of a 16-year old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. It seems like a lot of people are talking about rape. Is our country and even the world ready for a more open conversation about what many consider to be a long-silenced topic?
“We are in a special cultural moment where rape is getting a lot of media attention,” says FORCE. “It is important that we use this attention to not just talk about rape, but end it. ”
The author of the poem “I CAN’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED, BUT NO ONE ELSE REMEMBERS” says this about the need for a permanent memorial: “There are no safe places to talk about my experience. People look at me with pity, or they associate what happened to me with the choices I made, when I do tell my story. I know I am not alone in my inability to define my experiences and even now, I do not completely understand them. A lot of my healing process has been internal. A public memorial would create both a physical space and a psychological space that does not exist in our culture- one where survivors are not blamed or judged, but rather are honored and respected for their ability to survive and thrive through trauma and shame, where they do not need to learn to live with part of their identity hidden, and where their character is not judged by their assault.”
The floating poem is not the first stunt carried off by FORCE. They recently received international attention for their panty prank “PINK loves CONSENT”. “PINK loves CONSENT” was a fake website pretending to be Victoria’s Secret promoting the practice of consent to customers with underwear slogans stating “ASK FIRST” and “NO MEANS NO”. Before pretending to be Victoria’s Secret, FORCE also projected RAPE is RAPE unto the US Capitol Building. The group exists, as they put it, “to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent.”
FORCE launched the campaign for a permanent memorial for rape survivors as part of an international day of protest- 1 Billion Rising- the 15th anniversary of V-Day. V-Day is a movement begun by Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler. This year, V-Day organized 1 billion people to dance in solidarity and symbolism for the 1 billion women worldwide that have been raped or beaten in their lifetime.
The organizers claim a national memorial to survivors of rape and abuse is needed in the United States because, “In a country where 30-45% of women and 13-16% of men experience sexual violence in their lifetime, most of them by the age of 18, rape is not just a national problem. Rape is an epidemic.”
Many of the rape statistics in the United States are alarming. American women are twice as likely to experience rape in their lifetime than breast cancer. An estimated 65 million Americans are living with a history of rape or sexual abuse. Meanwhile, rape remains one of the most under-reported crimes.
“The sad truth is that these statistics are old news,” says Rebecca Nagle, organizer of the project. “We are quoting the same statistics that were used in the 1970’s. Nothing has changed. We all know that rape is happening. We all agree that rape is wrong. So what the missing link? Why haven’t rape statistics change in 40 plus years?”
“Rape is treated like it is inevitable. Rape and sexual violence have not been treated in our culture like a cause for outrage, but rather as just the way things are. The missing link in ending rape is the basic belief that rape can end. A national public memorial would be a symbol for our country to ground the vision of a day without rape and carry it forward for future generations. If we don’t create a culture that believes rape can end, then without a doubt we will be quoting the same statistics in 2050. And by then three more generation of Americans will have experienced the same rates of violence and trauma.”
But on the national mall? Amidst the monuments and marble pillars that tell the best version of our nation’s history, wouldn’t a memorial to such a violent and personal tragedy feel out of place?
“I don’t think so,” said a tourist from North Carolina who walked by as the poem was being pulled out of the pool. “Not all of our history as a country is easy. And there is space for that here. Just look at the Vietnam War Memorial.”
Indeed, if you were to walk a mere 300 yards north of FORCE’s temporary memorial you would encounter a granite wall engraved with the names of the 58,272 Americans who lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War. The politics of the Vietnam War left our country divided, creating a difficult home-coming for returning soldiers and a feeling of shame for families grieving lost loved ones. Without taking a side on the divisive politics of the War, the wall honors the dead. The creation of such a wall was organized by a group of veterans, who saw the need for a public symbol to honor their fallen friends. While Americans may still argue the rights and wrongs of the Vietnam War, our country now holds public space to honor and grieve the war’s American casualties. The wall receives daily visits from veterans, families and tourists learning perhaps a less glorified version of American history.
“Memorials create a platform for individuals and communities to grieve trauma,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE organizer. “The existing memorials on the national mall are places to honor the heroes of our history, to grieve the losses of violence, and for society to remember. When our nation remembers difficult parts of our history, we are better able to prevent injustice and atrocities from repeating. This process has not happened with sexual violence.”
The connection between veterans and survivors of rape was made by author and psychologist Judith Herman in her work Trauma and Recovery. After explaining the healing effects of war memorials for veterans, Herman states, “The most common trauma of women remains confined to the sphere of private life, without formal recognition or restitution from the community. There is no public monument for rape survivors.”
FORCE says, “One of this first steps on the road to healing from sexual violence and PTSD is telling the story of what happened. As long as the telling of such stories is forbidden in our culture we are hindering the process for millions of survivors to heal.”
While the group is rallying for a physical memorial on the mall, they are building a virtual memorial on tumblr. At mourningandrage.com survivors and allies are posting their stories, their anger, and their support for a memorial. As one survivor stated on the tumblr, “We need a memorial so that survivors have at least one place to look where they can say, ‘This wasn’t my fault. I am not alone.’”
You can contribute to the online memorial by posting at mourningandrage.com or tweeting what you think about a permenant memorial with #mourningandrage.
Will FORCE’s effort to create a national memorial to survivors succeed? Building a national memorial requires congressional support, financial resources and the will of the American public. While carrying the 44 giant letters up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was no small feet, gaining the congressional and public support needed for a permanent memorial is a much larger undertaking. “We’re in it for the long haul,” says FORCE. “Today was the first day of a long journey. We’re just getting started.”
We are gearing up for today’s big action at the National Mall’s Lincoln Memorial in DC at 2pm! If you can join us, please do.
As part of today’s #1billionrising FORCE is carrying 44 giant, red styrofoam letters to the national mall in DC to write the poem “I CAN’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED BUT NO ONE ELSE REMEMBERS.” The action is a call to create a national memorial to survivors of rape and abuse. Stay tuned for pics and details by following the action on facebook and twitter.
The most common trauma of women remains confined to the sphere of private life, without formal recognition or restitution from the community. There is no public monument for rape survivors. -Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery
On VDay this February, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is creating a public memorial for survivors and victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape. During V-DAY’s 1 Billion Rising event, FORCE will float the words I can’t forget what happened but no one else remembers on the reflecting pool of the national mall. The statement, written by a survivor, reflects the isolating and traumatic experience of living with sexual violence. The temporary testament is a public call to create a permanent national monument to honor survivors. If we continue to forget the reality of rape, abuse and assault in a country where 30-45% of women and 13-16% of men are affected, how will we ever prevent it? As a nation, we need to honor the survivors living with sexual violence today, so that, for future generations, this violence may stop.
Starting now and until the day a monument is created, we are looking for organizations that want to join and support the effort through petitions, contacting congress, and fundraising. If you or your organization is interested in joining a coalition of feminists and anti-rape activists working to make this idea a reality please contact FORCE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about the need for a public memorial: Memorials create a platform for individuals and communities to grieve trauma. When our country undergoes a traumatic event, like a natural disaster or a war, memorials serve as a focal point for people to understand violent and alienating experiences. The existing memorials on the national mall are places to honor the important people of our history, to grieve the losses of violence, and for society to remember. When our nation remembers difficult parts of our history, we are better able to prevent injustice and atrocities from repeating.
This important public process has not happened with sexual violence. The statistics anti-rape activists were quoting 40 years ago are still being used today. One in four women have been raped. By the time Americans are 18, one in three women and one in six men will have been sexually abused as children. Women in the US are twice as likely to experience rape in their lifetime than breast cancer.
In the midst of an epidemic of sexual violence, our country has no public space for survivors to heal. There is no public process for survivors to rebuild a connection to their community that has been devastated by the violence and violation of rape. There is little national recognition of the overwhelming epidemic of rape and the need for our country to find an end. A history remembered is less likely to be repeated. An epidemic recognized is less likely to continue. We need to honor survivors living with the memory of sexual violence today, so that this violence will not be repeated in future generations. We would like to see our temporary gesture honoring survivors become a permanent monument, testament and promise to future generations, that, as a country, we are committed to ending rape.
More about FORCE: FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is a creative activist effort to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent. We believe that a more difficult and honest conversation needs to happen in America to face the realities of sexual violence, and we envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent. As activists, we are here to force the issue.
FORCE is most widely known for their most recent actions “PINK loves CONSENT” and “RAPE is RAPE”. “PINK loves CONSENT” was a web-based prank that made consent go viral and sparked an internet revolution. FORCE pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting a new line of consent-themed, anti-rape panties. The action and internet aftermath got millions of people talking about consent, rape culture, and the sexual empowerment of women. On the eve of the last presidential debate, FORCE projected “RAPE IS RAPE” onto the US Capitol Building along with stories of survivors. The text tells the experience of survivors, which in a national conversation about the politics of rape, have eerily been left out.
Thank you from the bottom of our consent-themed hearts
SHOUT OUT! We would like to recognize all the lovely people that made the Love Consent campaign possible:
Web design by Dan Staples Photography by Phillip Laubner Sex Advice by Jacq Jones from Sugar the Sex Shop Social Media Strategies by Sarah Lock Targeted Tweeting by Casey McKeel Hair by Darian Make up by Michelle Faulkner
And the fiercely gorgeous faces of PINK loves CONSENT are: Brittney-Elizabeth Williams Ahleah Gavin Jay Guiher Jessica Long
AND we could NOT have done it without our amazing Feminist Facebook army who made PINK loves CONSENT go viral!! You know who you are ;) and also know that we love you!
National Consent Enthusiasts Leave A Panty Trail...
…and the CONSENT REVOLUTION has just begun
What’s this?? An “Ask First” thong on Victoria’s Secret’s display rack? Did Victoria’s Secret get the message, join the revolution and start making consent-themed panties?
This “Ask First” thong showed up in this Victoria’s Secret in Miami
“Nope,” says FORCE, “It’s us.” Over the weekend international consent-enthusiasts teamed up with FORCE to deploy “operation panty drop” in over a dozen stores in North America and Europe.
It all started last Monday, when FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture borrowed the company’s trademark image to promote the satirical website pinklovesconsent.com. The site spoofs Victoria’s Secret “PINK” (an official line marketed at college and highschool students) as a way to promote consent and fight rape. Consent is a verbal agreement about how and when people are comfortable having sex. The fake site sports panties reading consent slogans, such as “Ask First” or “No means No.” On the “Then and Now” page, the parody says “Then we loves styles that were all about rape culture. Now we love styles that are all about consent. Catch changes hitting stores this holiday season!”
The organizers of PINK loves CONSENT believe the idea of consent should be as mainstream and common as wearing a condom. Just like pausing to put on a condom prevents STD’s, pausing to check in with your partner prevents unwanted sexual experiences. They say, “We need to create a culture where the sexual empowerment of women is more pervasive than the sexual violation. We want to see the practice of consent show up in the bedroom just as much as ‘V-string’ thongs.”
The panty prank got an overwhelmingly positive response. In two days, this site had over 200,000 hits. The stunt was written up in the Huffington Post, Jezebel, The Daily Beast and BUST to name a few. EVERYONE was talking about it on social media. High school and college aged students blogged and reblogged the story like crazy. International consent enthusiasts tweeted positive declarations about why they #loveconsent. On facebook, VS customers were wishing the consent campaign was real. And during the broadcast of the annual Fashion Show the #victoriassecret hashtag was successfully hi-jacked to promote #loveconsent more than the #vsfashionshow.
Where did this outpouring for consent come from?
FORCE says, “The flash attention the project got didn’t come from us. It came from somewhere deeper and more important. People agree that sexual violence is unacceptable and are starting to wake up to how pervasive it actually is. People are also starting to imagine a new world- a world without rape, where the sexual empowerment of women is more pervasive than sexual violation- where good communication replaces coercion and silence.”
With all of its humor, PINK loves CONSENT is a serious glimpse of that imagined world. The project opened up a way for people to express their desire and need for change. As one headline read, “Victoria’s Secret does not heart consent, but they should.”
After a week of viral internet action, consent has now gone analog. Not only has consent popped up in unexpected place on the internet, such as Victoria’s Secret’s twitter feeds and teenage fashion blogs, but consent is now showing up in the material world, namely in Victoria’s Secret stores.
“We wanted customers who hadn’t heard about PINK loves CONSENT on the internet to stumble upon it in stores. Last week, Victoria’s Secret had shut down pinklovesconsent.com and @loveconsent [both the website and twitter handle are back up after the group fought the take down] and we realized we need another method to spread the good news of consent. So, we cashed in our “Secret Rewards” card, printed up some con-sexy undies and shipped them out to supporters nationwide. We want the important message of consent to continue to reach a broader and broader audience.”
When one shopper found them in the store in Miami, FL, she said, “When I picked up this pair of underwear, it was fun because I knew that they had been planted in the store, because I knew about pinklovesconsent.com. I didn’t buy them, though- figured another shopper would appreciate the message and might join the consent revolution!”
Another shopper in Philadelphia, PA said she purchased a pair with the Ask First slogan, “…because if I am wearing sexy underwear, that doesn’t mean I am asking for anything. Ask me first!” She was not aware of PINK loves Consent prior to the purchase.
Lots of fans of the PINK loves CONSENT campaign are asking “Where do I buy these?” As one Jezebel journalist commented “My only complaint is that you can’t actually buy anything off the site, because now I kind of want some underwear that says “respect” on the crotch.” FORCE, the group behind the prank, is not able to sell the underwear because they would probably get sued.
“At this point, we can argue that the PINK Loves Consent project is protected under fair use, because we are spoofing the Victoria’s Secret brand to educate people about consent and to critique the company. They have already taken legal action to try and block our website. If we were also using their brand to sell underwear, we would probably be in court right now. There never was a plan to sell consent themed panties, just to create a consent revolution!”
Images from the “Panty Drop”
Before bemoaning that you missed the panty drop or that you can’t buy these undies online, check out FORCE’s guide: “Do It Yourself Consent Panties: Sharing Consent in the Material World.” The guide is a complete set of instructions on how to make-your-own consent inspired undies. For the experienced printer, there are images to shoot silk screens. And for the rest of us, there are instructions for using iron-ons or stencils. You can find the instructions of FORCE’s tumblr page or at the perma link upsettingrapeculture.com/diy.
“We can’t sell these but we would love for all the people who really, really, really want them to have them. Happy DIY-ing!”, says FORCE.
The other analog action the group is taking these days is a “PINK loves CONSENT Pocket Companion”. The guide provides readers with information about consent and how to practice it at home. You can view or download the guide at upsettingrapeculture.com/pocket .
“The pocket guide is a great way to keep spreading the good news of consent. And, it makes for excellent bedtime reading (wink, wink!). If you wished you had been in on the panty drop, we are sorry to say that we are out of undies. But, you can download the pocket guide, print it out and leave it wherever you see fit: your dorm room; your bed side table; the dining hall; even the pocket of some corporate lingerie store’s hoody. We think loving consent is the best way to add bling to this year’s holiday styles!”
Where will consent end up next? “Hopefully everywhere!” says FORCE. “We would love to see consent in sex education, college campus policies, anti-rape laws and on the cover of Cosmo Magazine. We live to see the day where sex-advice promotes good communication rather than ‘7 Ways to Tell What He’s Really Thinking.’ We live to see the day where communication and empowerment replace violence, coercion and silence.”
While the Victoria’s Secret parody was an excellent platform to spread the message of consent, you don’t need a pair of printed underwear to tell someone to “ask first”. Consent is more than a style. Consent is more than a product. Consent is a practice.
“While watching consent spread like wildfire on the internet is AWESOME, what we really need is for consent to take root in the bedroom. The best way for the consent revolution to take root is for us to all practice what we ‘tweet’ and practice consent.”
Do It Yourself CONSENT PANTIES: Sharing Consent in the Material World
Many of you were disappointed to find out that neither Victoria’s Secret or FORCE was actually making the consent underwear.
But, fear not! You can make your own by using our designs and a few easy steps. In the spirit of DIY, feel free to make as many pairs as you like, for yourself, for gifts, for panty drops, for anything.
There are a few ways to make your own panties using these consent designs. The easiest way is to use iron-on transfers. To do that, print your favorite consent slogan onto transfer paper, cut out the image, then iron onto your undies. You can buy iron-on transfers at most office supply stores, and each brand has its own particular instructions- so make sure you read them!
For instructions about making stencils and screen-printing, download our PDF here:
Correction: Victoria’s Secret HATES consent Lingerie giant uses legal threats to take down pinklovesconsent.com
Correction: Victoria’s Secret HATES consent Lingerie giant uses legal threats to take down pinklovesconsent.com
On Thursday, December 4, the hosting company for pinklovesconsent.com was contacted by lawyers from Victoria’s Secret’s and forced to take down the site. Victoria’s Secret complained that their trademark was being used to “confuse customers”. When initially contacted on Monday about pinklovesconsent.com an official Victoria’s Secret spokesperson with Limited Brands stated, “This is not an official PINK campaign. We are looking into it.” The company did more than “look into it”: they got lawyers. By sending legal threats, the corporate giant has shut down pinklovesconsent.com and is preventing hundreds of thousands of people getting information about consent. FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the team behind PINK loves CONSENT, is fighting the ban. You can join them by signing this online petition.
PINK loves CONSENT is a campaign that parodied the Victoria’s Secret brand to make consent go viral. Consent is a verbal agreement about how and when people are comfortable having sex. The organizers of PINK loves CONSENT believe the idea of consent should be as mainstream and common as wearing a condom. Just like pausing to put on a condom prevents STD’s, pausing to check in with your partner prevents unwanted sexual experiences. They say, “We need to create a culture where the sexual empowerment of women is more pervasive than the sexual violation. We want to see the practice of consent show up in the bedroom just as much as ‘V-string’ thongs.”
So, how did these “confused customers” (as Victoria’s Secret called them) respond to PINK loves CONSENT? While customers were disappointed to learn that Victoria’s Secret is not behind the PINK loves CONSENT campaign, people quickly understood the parody and more importantly got the message. The campaign got an overwhelmingly positive response. In two days, this site had over 200,000 hits. The stunt was written up in the Huffington Post, Jezebel, New York Magazine, and BUST to name a few. EVERY ONE was talking about it on social media. High school and college aged students blogged and reblogged the story like crazy. International consent enthusiasts tweeted positive declarations about why they #loveconsent. On facebook, VS customers were wishing the consent campaign was real. And during the broadcast of the annual Fashion Show the #victoriassecret hashtag was successfully hi-jacked to promote #loveconsent more than the #vsfashionshow.
More importantly, people were having a NATIONAL and OPEN conversation about consent, female sexual empowerment, and creating a world without rape.
FORCE says, “The outpouring of support for Love Consent on facebook, twitter and tumblr wasn’t from “confused customers”. It was mostly from a lot of young women, like us, who know and are saying exactly what we want. We want a company and a culture that promotes health, safety, pleasure and real love for our bodies. We want to live in a world where sexual pleasure and empowerment displaces sexual violence and coercion. And we want to see the end of rape. If Victoria’s Secret does not get this message, perhaps they are the ones that are ‘confused’.”
Just as this national consent conversation was getting started, it was interrupted when Victoria’s Secret got cranky, got a lawyer and sent FORCE this message: “The registrants are using the VICTORIA’S SECRET, PINK and Heart Logo Design all without permission, to create confusion and to promote the non-authorized, non-associated site Pinklovesconsent.com.”
Before pinklovesconsent.com was shut down by Victoria’s Secret, the consent campaign’s main twitter handle @loveconsent was also banned. The account is still suspended and its tweets have disappeared from the twitter feeds including #loveconsent and #victoriassecret. Twitter was contacted Tuesday night by FORCE about the suspension and, after two days, has yet to reply. Organizers aren’t sure why their account is suspended, “We were using @loveconsent to promote consent during the fashion show, and it was working. The handle was getting a lot of retweets and top tweets for the #victoriassecret hashtag. Perhaps it worked too well and Victoria’s Secret complained. We understand that its tricky territory because at first, we were pretending to be Victoria’s Secret. But since Monday, we have publicly declared that we are a parody. We believe that our message is important and that social media can be a tool for social change. We want to continue to use it to make the concept of consent go viral. Blocking our account is unnecessary and hindering this important conversation about consent.”
By shutting down pinklovesconsent.com, Victoria’s Secret is shutting down an important outlet for information about healthy sex. The thousands of people visiting the site hourly were not only seeing anti-rape panties but reading about how to practice consent. The site included information on check-ins, negotiating boundaries and “the sexy benefits of communication.” On the “Let’s Talk About Sex” advice column, users were invited to submit questions about sex. Force is worried, “We now have a pile of questions from people that need answers, and we have no place to answer them. In a culture where sexual violence is pervasive and sex education is not, people need resources. Women deserve to have information about how to enjoy sex in and for their bodies. Survivors deserve support. This website was a resource for a lot of people. We are sad to see it taken away from them.”
So what does the law have to say about all this? It is common knowledge that pinklovesconsent.com does NOT infringe on any copyright or trademark. Because the site is a parody and does not sell any underwear it is protected under fair use and free speech. According to the law, you are allowed to use a corporation’s trademark to criticize, parody or otherwise talk about the corporation. What you are clearly not allowed to do, under the law, is to sell a similar product. Since pinklovesconsent.com does not sell anything, the site is not in violation. For example, you can use the McDonald’s logo to talk about McDonald’s, but you can not use the McDonald’s logo to sell hamburgers.
Similar parody sites, like the Yes Men’s now famous GATT.ORG (pretending to be the World Trade Organization), have been protected and maintained for well over a decade. Victoria’s Secret has no legal ground for their claim. They have well-paid-enough lawyers to know that they have no legal ground. They also have well-paid-enough lawyers to create a pile of false copyright complaints that could possibly keep pinklovesconsent.com banned for some time to come and hinder the national conversation about consent that errupted from the inititial panty prank. FORCE, the group behind pinklovesconsent.com, has no lawyers. But they are fighting the ban.
Here is what you can do to help:
FORCE says “Don’t let Victoria’s Secret kill this important conversation. Tell them to use their power for good and keep the Consent Revolution alive!
FORCE created a website that started a desperately needed national conversation about consent. The site promoted what we really need: health, safety, pleasure and real love for our bodies. We know it makes you cranky, but they haven’t broken any laws and are not selling anything on the site. Their website is legal under fair use and parody laws (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html).
We know that it is legal. You know that it is legal. We know that you know that it is legal. We also that you have enough money, power, and lawyers to shut down the Love Consent campaign, even if its just temporarily. Use your power for good. Don’t fight pinklovesconsent.com. Join us in the consent revolution!
VIctoria’s Secret’s lawyers force the removal of pinklovesconsent.com
Today the hosting company for pinklovesconsent.com (the campaign that parrodied Victoria’s Secret to raise awareness about consent) was contacted by Victoria’s Secret’s lawyers and forced to take down the site. Victoria’s Secret complained that their trademark was being used to “confuse customers”. FORCE, the team behind PINK loves CONSENT, is fighting the ban. Stay tuned to find out how you can join the fight and keep the CONSENT revolution alive!
#victoriassecret tweets #loveconsent more than #vsfashionshow
Consent goes viral via Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show
An interesting trend cropped up on twitter last night during the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show and it wasn’t about Justin Bieber or angel wings.
During the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (which garners 10 million viewers and is the mega-company’s biggest promotional event) one would think most people tweeting about #victoriassecret would be tweeting about the #vsfashionshow. Not so!
Last night feminist and anti-rape activists were joined by young women, VS customers and consent enthusiasts from across the country to hi-jack Goliath’s social media outlet. And it worked. During the broadcast the #1 related hashtag to #victoriassecret wasn’t the #vsfashionshow, it was #loveconsent.
It all started on Monday, when FORCE borrowed the company’s trademark image to promote the fake site pinklovesconsent.com. The site pretends to be a Victoria’s Secret “PINK” (an official line marketed at college and highschool students) campaign to promote consent and fight rape. Consent is a verbal agreement about how and when people are comfortable having sex. The fake site sports new panties reading consent slogans, “Ask First” or “No means No”. PINK loves CONSENT, posing as Victoria’s Secret, also promises to change its ways. On the “Then and Now” page the parody says “Then we loves styles that were all about rape culture. Now we love styles that are all about consent. Catch changes hitting stores this holiday season!”
Monday and Tuesday PINKlovesCONSENT.com went VIRAL! In the first 24 hours the site had over 200,000 hits. The stunt was written up in the Huffington Post, Jezebel, New York Magazine, and BUST to name a few. And EVERYONE was talking about it on social media. High school and college aged students blogged and reblogged the story like crazy. Twitter users were loving Victoria’s Secret’s new look. On facebook VS customers were wishing that it was real. One tumblr post got reblogged 20,000 times.
After revealing early Tuesday morning that pinklovesconsent.com came from a living room not a board room, organizers asked supporters to, “Tell #victoriassecret why you #loveconsent” during the fashion show broadcast.
“We want people to learn about consent,” FORCE says. “We need to create a culture where the sexual empowerment of women is more pervasive than the sexual violation. We want to see the practice of consent show up in the bedroom just as much as ‘V-string’ thongs.”
So what are people telling #victoriassecret about why they #loveconsent? They were saying a lot. Here are some of our favorites:
Tuesday night, all of the #loveconsent tweets rolling in were a chorus of people professing their love for women’s bodies, sex, healthy relationships, empowerment and a day when rape is not the norm in American culture. The #victoriassecret tweets had a slightly different feeling. An overwhelming amount of the tweets were about how women should or do feel insecure when watching the Angels strut down the catwalk.
“When someone tells a fat girl she could be a #victoriassecret model. It’s so hard not to laugh
Sexiest, hottest, most depressing hour of my life. #victoriassecret #vsfashionshow
If anyone needs me i’ll be doing sit ups and lunges for the rest of my life :( #vsfashionshow
If you listen really carefully… you can hear the sound of millions of girls puking. #vsfashionshow
The #loveconsent crowd felt sad seeing these tweets! And they tweeted back words of encouragement about self love and body love! “LOVE what you see when you look in the mirror. EVERY body is beautiful. #VSFashionShow#LoveConsenthttp://PinkLovesConsent.com,” tweeted Brittney-Elizabeth, a model for the paradoy campagin PINK loves CONSENT.
The slew of tweets coming from #victoriassecret about how women should and do feel insecure about their bodies are not surprising. Its normal for people to say insensitive things on the internet. It is normal for women to talk about how they need to diet. It is normal for women to feel like their bodies are inadequate or ugly when compared with the picture-perfect images of supermodels.
But what if it wasn’t normal? What if we worshiped all body types?
(PINK loves CONSENT’s I love my Body and Victoria’s Secret’s I Love My Body)
What if the “Love what you see in the mirror” message came from the poster girl for Victoria’s Secret, Miranda Kerr, instead of the poster girl for PINK loves CONSENT? What if women professed self love instead of self hate while watching the annual VS runway show? What if the dominant culture in America was as empowering and inspiring as culture of #loveconsent?
FORCE says, “I think the reason Pink loves Consent went so viral is because we want it so bad. The fake version of Victoria’s Secret is too good to be true. But, what a better world to live in! As a young woman in this country, I can’t imagine waking up to a major American corporation taking a stand against rape and professing the sexal empowerment of women. Our country needs a different broadcast, a different message, a different image. We need a culture that promotes health, safety, pleasure and real love for our bodies.”
Hopefully, “the powers that be” will notice the trend, read the love consent fan mail, feel the groundswell, and catch the virus. As one tweet-er put it: “@VictoriasSecret Make #loveconsent a real thing. Join the revolution!!”
______ During the fashion show the main twitter handle for the consent campaign @loveconsent was suspended. The account is still blocked and its tweets have disappeared from the twitter feeds including #loveconsent and #victoriassecret. Additionally a link at pinklovesconsent.com to let visiters tweet “Dear #victoriassecret I #loveconsent because” was blocked for most of the fashion show. Twitter was contacted Tuesday night by FORCE about the suspension and has yet to reply. Organizers aren’t sure why their account is suspended, “The @loveconsent handle was getting a lot of retweets and top tweets for the #victoriassecret hashtag. Maybe they complained. We’ve also heard from people that you can’t search for the page on facebook, that you can only get to it with a direct link (facebook.com/heartconsent). We understand that its tricky territory because at first, we were pretending to be Victoria’s Secret. But now the cat is out of the bag. On all our accounts we have tweeted and posted that we are a parody. We believe that social media can be a tool for social change. We want to continue to use it to make the concept of consent go viral. Blocking our account is hindering this necessary campaign.”
Despite the blocks, suspensions, missing tweets and empty searches, #loveconsent has gone viral. The internet is awash with positive feedback and support for PINK loves CONSENT. Perhaps the Consent revolution has begun. Even if it started with a parody and underwear.
Subvert Victoria's Secret, fight rape and spread the good news about consent TONIGHT!!
Yesterday, young facebook users hi-jacked the social media outlets of Victoria’s Secret to promote something very different from panties and push-up bras. Within 24 hours, over 130,000 people visited PinkLovesConsent.com, where they saw Victoria’s Secret’s image “promoting consent to fight rape.”
Tonight we are continuing the prank by subverting their social media to promote a national conversation about consent! You can join the consent revolution by telling #victoriassecret why you #love consent or professing your love for female sexual empowerment on their facebook page. We are targeting their annual fashion show which is TONIGHT at 10pm. Thanks guys! Please feel free to forward W I D E L Y
Victoria’s Secret does NOT heart consent. Young customers play prank on lingerie giant.
Yesterday, young facebook users hi-jacked the social media outlets of Victoria’s Secret to promote something very different from panties and push-up bras. Within ten hours, over 50,000 people visited PinkLovesConsent.com, where they saw Victoria’s Secret’s image “promoting consent to fight rape.”
The satirical website was launched at noon on Monday, December 3. According to the site, “PINK loves CONSENT is our newest collection of flirty, sexy and powerful statements that remind people to practice CONSENT. CONSENT is a verbal agreement about how and when people are comfortable having sex.”
Through Victoria’s Secret’s social media, the concept of consent was cropping up in some unexpected places. The Victoria’s Secret facebook pages were flooded with “I heart consent” posts, excited campus reps were retweeting pinklovesconsent.com, and the “pink hearts” at pinknation.com were declaring their love for “open sex talk.” One employee tweeted, “I am so happy to currently have a job for a company that stands for something so beautiful!! @LoveConsent #victoriassecret #loveconsent” Highschool students were tweeting “I’m loving the new @LoveConsent! Victoria’s secret goes feminist!” At the outset, 100 young facebook users were in one the prank. It just went viral from there.
How did customers respond to the prank? Victoria’s Secret fighting rape? Some people were skeptical, some people were confused, and most people LOVED it.
“Hey, I just wanted to say that I am really incredibly happy about PINK’s consent line. It’s really encouraging to see mainstream clothing that promotes women’s safety and choice while still being fashionable and letting her feel good about her body. I wasn’t a Victoria’s Secret customer before, but I sure as hell am now
“Dear Anyone who made this happen at VS, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! As a college student, and as someone who is constantly trying to create awareness of consent and body image awareness, I love this. As someone who is a survivor of assault, I love this. I love this times a million. I am floored, and a proud customer. I will flaunt these the minute I am able to buy them.”
Why should Victoria’s Secret (or anyone) promote consent? To end rape. By the time American women graduate from college 1 in 4 will have been raped. Every 21 hours, a rape occurs on an American college campus. Women are twice as likely to be raped in their lifetime than to develop breast cancer.
Turns out feminist duo FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is behind the campaign. Just last month, on the eve of the last presidential election, the same team projected “Rape Is Rape,” along with stories of survivors, onto the US Capitol Building. FORCE says, “We envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent.”
Will Victoria’s Secret take a nod from the customer fan mail and change their styles? Fighting rape would be a major shift for the brand. Though they are a woman-focused company, VS has never taken a stand on any women’s issue. In fact, their current designs seem to lean more toward rape culture than consent. Their PINK brand, marketed at high school and college-aged women, sports thongs with the slogan “SURE THING” printed right over the crotch. Young women across the country are wearing underwear with “SURE THING” literally printed over their vaginas. We can think of one circumstance where a vagina is treated like a “SURE THING”: rape.
So if Victoria’s Secret clearly would NEVER promote consent why use their brand for a consent campaign? The organizers say, “We could write a pamphlet about consent. In fact, we have written and distributed pamphlets about consent. But how many people are reading pamphlets about sexual practices and how many people are reading facebook post about Victoria’s Secret? Consent needs to become a mainstream idea. Condoms became a mainstream idea in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Just like pausing to put on a condom prevents the spread of STDs, pausing to check in with you partner prevents unwanted sexual experiences.
Social media is becoming a tool for social change. We have seen the role of social media in revolution in the Arab Spring, but change Victoria’s Secret? “Probably not,” says the organizers. “We’re not about taking Victoria’s Secret down. We are about changing the conversation. The sexiness that is being sold to women by Victoria’s Secret is not actually about sex. It is not how to have sex, relationships or orgasms. It in an IMAGE of what it is to be sexy. So while we are sold cleavage, white teeth, clear skin and perfect hair no one is asking us how our bodies feel and what we desire. Victoria’s Secret owns the image of female sexuality, instead of women owning their own sexuality.”
As the project went viral, some saw right through the shenanigans. Many who knew it was a prank openly wished that it was real. After a first incredulous look and some detective work, Jezebel blogger Katie J.M. Baker said, “If only Victoria’s Secret focused on empowering women rather than objectifying them!” Bloggers wrote about how the Pink Loves Consent project makes women look powerful and strong. Jezebel users commented on the “fiercely real” body types represented on the site. “Too bad they don’t use some models like her for their regular advertising. The girl’s gorgeous and it’s awesome to see a different body style once in awhile.” A frustrated Facebook user commented, “Damn, I wish these were real. I just got paid.” And a savvy Victoria’s Secret customer tweeted, “So I guess the #loveconsent campaign isn’t actually affiliated with Victoria’s Secret but they SHOULD BE I WOULD BUY SO MUCH UNDERWEAR.”
Why do so many women love something they know is not real? FORCE made something that people want, but that a company like Victoria’s Secret can never give them. Imagine how different our lives would be if we put as much time and thought into sharing ideas like consent as we do into selling underwear.
As one high school student eloquently blogged:
“i’m still freaking out over this pink loves consent thing. And people say nothing’s gonna change, that talking and educating doesn’t help. Watch how many people will second-guess their actions when a widely popular company is pushing the issue. This is so fucking cool.” —a seventeen year-old high school student posted on tumblr
We are so sorry to tell young women that Victoria’s Secret is not using its voice to create the change you need to grow up safe and free from sexual violence. Victoria’s Secret is not using its brand to promote consent. They are not promoting consent to their 4.5 million “PINK nation” members, to the 500,000 facebook fans or the estimated 10 million viewers who will be watching tonight’s fashion show. But what a different world would it be if they did? What if consent and communication showed up in the bedroom as much as push-up bras and seamless thongs? Things WILL change and talking and education DOES help. We can create a culture where the sexual empowerment of women is more common than their sexual assault. But it’s going to take some work to keep on fighting against the messaging from giants like Victoria’s Secret.
While we can’t expect a message that is empowering for women to come from a brand like Victoria’s Secret, we can make it come from their hashtag. This campaign has only begun.
Tonight you can celebrate the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show by joining more than one thousand social media activists who will be posting, pinning and tweeting about consent. Join the CONSENT REVOLUTION! Tweet at #VictoriasSecret why you #loveconsent. Facebook @VictoriasSecret about why @loveconsent is revolutionary. Combat the sickening reality of rape culture by making the culture of consent go viral!
“RAPE IS RAPE” projected onto the United States Capitol Building.
October 21, 2012
“RAPE IS RAPE” projected onto the United States Capitol Building. Stories of rape that fall outside of the definition of “forcible rape” illuminate what is missing from the national conversation on the politics of rape: the experience of survivors.
[Washington DC] Stories of survivors of sexual violence were projected onto the US capitol building on the eve of the final presidential debate. The text tells the experience of survivors, which in a national conversation about the politics of rape, have eerily been left out.
Women are twice as likely to be raped in their lifetime than to develop breast cancer. Only 14% of all rape fits lawmakers Ryan, Akins and Rivard’s narrow vision of “forcible rape”. The stories projected onto the capitol building last night are from the other 86% of people who have been raped:
“As a young girl I was raped by a group of teenage boys. They put money on the bed afterward. I was convinced it was my fault”
“My boyfriend kept trying to have sex with me. I kept saying no. He stopped after I started crying. I was 15. I remember apologizing later for crying. “
“I was drugged and raped by a man I met while traveling in Greece. He offered to show me around and then put sleeping pills in my food. It was broad daylight. Since my rape was not “violent”, the Greek courts did not charge my rapist”
“I can’t even count the number of time I have had sex against my will. Some of the times I was pressured and other times I was drunk. I’ve never been able to call these situations rape”
“I don’t remember the details of what happened. I pick up clues from the seemingly random things in sex that paralyze me with fear.”
FORCE strongly believes that American culture is uncomfortable to the point of being incapable of recognizing the reality of rape in this country. The organizers believe that the culture of rape will not improve until a more difficult conversation is had.
The organizers of this action say, “The origins of “legitimate rape” or “women who rape easy” are deeper than anti-abortion legislation, conservative views, or a few politically incorrect statements. The problems in the public conversations about rape are bigger than election year politics. The image of forcible rape is the only publicly recognized image of sexual violence in America, and it is not realistic. Rapists do not only use physical violence. Rape is not only committed by a few sick criminals. Rape is not a rare occurrence. Rape is much more complicated and much more common. If sexual violence is going to end, Americans need to drop the story of “forcible rape” and face reality. These stories are here to force the issue.”
VAWA TAKE ACTION: U.S. Activists Thank Your Representatives & Tell Congress to Send A Strong VAWA to the President
The United States House of Representatives bill 4970, or the “Adams Bill” is an unacceptable version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that imposes new reporting restrictions on immigrant survivors of violence as well as Native American women, communities of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender survivors. Although the bill passed in the Senate 68-31, it narrowly lost in the House 222-205. Now is the time to urge Congress to send the President a strong, bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill that protects ALL survivors.
In the coming weeks the House and Senate will reconcile the bill in the conference process where we can all push to ensure that the vote will more closely reflect S. 1925, the version of VAWA that the Senate passed which includes funding for services to previously underserved populations. To do this it’s important to thank those who stood for and with survivors of violence, and express disappointment in those who did not.
What is Feminism Now? @ Mobilizing and Organizing from Below Conference
Join FORCE in conversation with Hollaback Baltimore, Reverend Mary Mois, Kalima Young, and Alexa Richards for a conversation about where feminism is going and how we should ge there. Promises to be a great event!
Saturday, June 2
Village Learning Place, Room #1 (2510 Saint Paul Street)
Come talk about radical curatorial practices with Hannah and Rebecca, curators of FORCE, this Sunday at Area 405! Organized by Marcus Civin’s curatorial practices class at MICA.
CURATING TO PROVOKE: DANGEROUS IDEAS, DANGEROUS PLACES is the semester-end project for Interdisciplinary Approaches to Curatorial Practice (IACP), a graduate level course at MICA, taught by Marcus Civin, that focuses on revealing the history of curatorial practice by analyzing influential curators and influential exhibitions. Inspirations for CURATING TO PROVOKE include the Occupy Wall Street Movement, politically charged artwork, and community art. The idea that curatorial practice can provoke, in addition to educate and inspire, is an idea that is gaining steam across disciplines. Curators can challenge diverse publics by engaging place and sharing artwork that reflects significant, contemporary global and local issues and provides tools for engagement. Please join the discussion. For more information, please contact: email@example.com, 410 230-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org, 415 806-4197.
Recently, there was a heated discussion over the International Women’s Rights Collective (IWRC) email thread. It started when a member posted an article from the Huffington Post about 50 members of a fraternity in Western Kentucky University raising awareness about violence against women by…