FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture

Jul 08

PUBLIC MONUMENT TO RAPE SURVIVORS TOURS THE UNITED STATES

This August, visitors across the US will witness stories from survivors of sexual violence emblazoned on 200 bright, red quilt squares. During a 12-city tour, The Monument Quilt will be displayed at public parks, town squares, college campuses and high school football fields from White River, SD to Queens, NY. Larger than two basketball courts put together, the traveling quilt is part of an on-going project to create public healing space for survivors of rape and abuse.

“By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal,” says Hannah Brancato, Force Co-Director. “The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how our country responds to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.”

Sexual violence in the United States is nothing short of an epidemic.  In the US, 1 in 3 women, 1 in 3 trans people and 1 in 6 men will be raped or abused in their lifetime.  Women are twice as likely to experience rape as breast cancer.

At each of the twelve displays, attendees will witness survivors’ stories, demonstrate public support, and transform their local response to rape. The Monument Quilt provides 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.

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“Our community is not whole without all of the people that make it up, and as part of our community, if survivors are hurting then the community itself is fractured.  We are grateful that the Monument Quilt will give us a chance to publicly support our survivors so that they, individually, and we, the community, can start to become whole.”  - Maria Bady, event coordinator, Fox Valley, WI.

The official tour dates and stops for the 2014 Monument Quilt tour are…

Aug 9: Arden, NC

Aug 10: Birmingham, AL

Aug 12: Baton Rouge, LA

Aug 13: Quapaw, OK

Aug 14: Des Moines, IA

Aug 16: White River, SD

Aug 18: Fox Valley, Wisconsin

Aug 19: Chicago, IL

Aug 20: Pittsburgh, PA

Aug 23: NYC, NY

Aug 24: Durham, NC

Aug 30: Baltimore, MD

Sept 2: Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT

Local partners have this to say about bringing The Monument Quilt to their community:

“We are thrilled to bring The Monument Quilt to Baton Rouge,” says Racheal Hebert, Executive Director of STAR. “Often rape survivors feel ashamed, isolated and stigmatized by their experiences; the Monument Quilt will help bring together hundreds of stories of survivors and supporters to help survivors in our community know that they are not alone.”

"This project has helped White Buffalo Calf Woman Society build stronger than ever relationships with relatives in our surrounding communities,” says Chelsey in South Dakota. “White Buffalo Calf is dedicated to providing resources & services to all those who have been affected by sexual violence. The Quilt Monument Project; which encompasses our tradition, has helped heal spirits that were once broken.”

“In a public project such as FORCE, there is a deep need to create safe space to acknowledge and discuss the impact of historical and present-day race and gender-based trauma on female-bodied persons of color,” says Kalima Young, a Doctoral Student and Instructor at University of Maryland College Park and coordinating space for female-bodied persons of color at the Aug 30 Baltimore display. “Sexual trauma is complicated by racism and white supremacy and by creating an opportunity for female-bodied persons of color to discuss their unique histories around survivorship, we can hopefully begin to heal and organize in inclusive and affirming ways.”

"Bringing the Monument Quilt to the heart of the Tar Creek Superfund Site in Oklahoma links forever the rape of our lands with the violence experienced by us as individuals. LEAD Agency is proud to be able to host this viewing of the Monument Quilt.” says Rebecca Jim coordinator of the Quapaw, OK display.

“A broad base of Americans are affected by rape and abuse,” says Rebecca Nagle, co-director of Force. “People experience violence, recovery, justice and access very differently based on gender, sexual orientation, class, race, citizenship and ability.  However, the mainstream narrative of how sexual violence happens and who is experiencing it does not match this reality. Many survivors don’t see themselves and their experience in our media’s very narrow depiction of rape. The Monument Quilt seeks to create a highly public narrative of sexual violence that tells many stories, not one. Correcting the public misconception of who is experiencing sexual violence and how it is happening is one step towards ending rape.”

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The 100 x 100 foot quilt that will be witnessed during this summer is only the beginning. Over the next two years the quilt will continue to grow.  In a final display, the Monument Quilt will blanket over one mile of the national mall with thousands of quilt squares to spell “NOT ALONE”.

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.  If you are interested in volunteering at a quilt display email upsettingrapeculture@gmail.com.

The 2014 Monument Quilt tour is being planned and created by…

Alternate ROOTS, AAUW Younger Women’s Task Force Baltimore Chapter, American Visionary Art Museum, Crisis Center, Inc., Deaf Iowans Against Abuse (DIAA), Domestic Violence Program Initiative, Durham Crisis Response Center, Hollaback! Baltimore, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Women of Color Advisory Network (WOCAN), Immigrant Movement International, Johnson C. Smith University, Kiran Inc., La Casa Mandarina, Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer (LUNA), LEAD Agency, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, LSU Women’s Center, Meskwaki, Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, National Sexual Assault Conference, National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), Nisaa African Women’s Project, North Carolina Central University Women’s Center, North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC), Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), People of Color Queer Allies Trans, Phynyx Ministries, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Quapaw Tribe’s Domestic Violence Program, Queens Museum, Rape Victims Advocate, REACH Counseling, REACH of Macon County, SART Baltimore Community Partners, Sguympa Program, Shaw University, Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR), Stop Sexual Assault in the Military, TurnAround, Inc., University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Women’s Center, Violence Intervention Program, Inc (VIP Mujeres), Wesleyan Feminist Underground, White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Pittsburgh Center for Race and Gender Equity.

FORCE, the group behind The Monument Quilt is (as they put it) “an art and activist campaign to upset the dominant culture of rape and promote a culture of consent.”  Recently, FORCE has received international press for pretending to be Playboy releasing a “Top Ten Party Commandments” guide to consensual sex for college students. The group is also widely known for their viral panty prank, where they pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting consent themed slogans on undies and thongs.  They also received national attention for projecting “RAPE IS RAPE” onto the US Capitol Building, and for floating a poem written by a survivor in the reflecting pool of the national mall.

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Apr 30

From Baltimore with Love

Twenty Baltimore bands and musicians create all-star mixtape to support anti-rape activists Force

Baltimore, April 28, 2014From Baltimore With Love brings together twenty Baltimore bands and musicians to support the art and activist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. Embracing the theme of a summer road trip, 20 artists donated tracks to keep Force company on the road including Dan Deacon, Flock of Dimes, AK Slaughter, Soft Cat, Ami Dang, Abdu Ali, DDM and more.  The mix is being released as a prize for The Monument Quilt Tour Kickstarter campaign.  

From Baltimore with Love is a sampling of Force’s hometown Baltimore’s varied and vibrant music scene.  For only $15, Kickstarter backers can enjoy the psych soul rock of Katrina Ford, feminist punk rock War on Women, cellist and political artist Paul Rucker, and composer and electronic musician Dan Deacon, to name a few.  With an all around all star line up, the compilation spans the genres of hip hop, R&B, club, ambient, electronic, experimental, pop, punk and everything in-between.
Abdu Ali

While Baltimore is well-known for its home-grown musicians, it is also becoming well-known for its home-grown feminist activism.  Force: Upsetting Rape Culture is mostly widely known for their viral panty prank where they pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting consent-themed slogans on panties and thongs or more recently when they tricked the internet into believing Playboy was promoting consensual sex to undergrads.  They are currently raising funds via Kickstarter for a 10-city tour of the Monument Quilt.

The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse,” says Hannah Brancato, Force co-director. “By stitching our stories together we are creating and demanding public space to heal.  We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed” 




In 2016, the Monument Quilt will be on display at the National Mall in Washington DC. The Baltimore mixtape will help Force raise funds to bring the quilt to 10 cities across the US this summer.

“After holding displays in Baltimore and DC, we realized more people in more places need to see and experience the quilt,” said Rebecca Nagle, one of the project organizers. “That’s why we are taking the quilt on the road across the US, and we need your support to make that happen happen.

“Baltimore has a culture of support.  When we asked our community to contribute, every one was on board! We’re lucky to live in a city with so much talent and so much generosity,” says Brancato, Force co-director.


Ami Dang

​ As
experimental vocal, sitar and electronic musician Ami Dang puts it,
I’m contributing to From Baltimore with Love to support The Monument Quilt because the project provides a way for survivors and their communities to heal together. Survivors need to know that their families and friends are on their side; they shouldn’t feel isolated and shamed.  The Monument Quilt gives communities clear steps to heal together. Furthermore, Force is a large part of a movement to address rape culture and help ordinary people understand that, in order to eradicate rape, we all need to talk about consent and understand the true meaning of consensual sex.”

When you get the From Baltimore With Love mixtape you will enjoy:

Rapper and musician Abdu Ali who raps, sings, and chants over unorthodox beats for the creation of inspirational melodic poetry.

The old-school style hip-hop duo AK Slaughter.

The vocals, sitar, and electronics fusions of Ami Dang, who blends North Indian classical music with noise/ambient electronics to experimental dancepop.

Dan Deacon, a composer and electronic musician who layers electronic sounds, samples, textures, and rhythms to create ecstatic experimental symphonies.

The sloppy, melodic pop and post-punk of Dungeon Kids.

The witty and sassy DDM, who spits abrasive but welcoming rhymes inspired by inner-city youth.

Flock of Dimes, the atmospheric pop project of Jenn Wasner, lead singer and multi-instrumentalist of Wye Oak.

The sound, video and performance artist Jenny Graf Sheppard, who explores peripheral places and states through composition, improvisation and participatory works.

Composer and sound artist Jesse Stiles, whose work ranges from highly experimental, using texture and spatialization to create abstract clouds of sound, to highly danceable, exploring the sounds of electronic dance and rock music to create avant-garde performances and recordings.

Singer/songwriter Lizz King, who creates catchy, cabaret pop songs with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, belted vocals, and stripped-down production.

Singer/songwriter and lead vocalist for psych soul rock band Celebration, Katrina Ford.

Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and sound artist Melissa Moore, whose performative sound work ranges from noisey finger-pickin’ folk guitar, invented instruments, voice, and electronics to music based in field recording composition

Cellist, conceptual and political artist Paul Rucker.

DJ and prolific Producer Schwarz, who makes emotional dance tracks to move your body and make you feel something.

The powerful words and R&B melodies of Shameeka Dream and Deletta Gillespie.

Beyond beatboxer Shodekeh, who creates sounds and impossible expressions with his mouth and voice.

SOFIA RETA CO. - an international collective of musicians, artists, and comedians using their various talents to act as voices for marginalised, slighted, and abused groups of people. Using entertainment as an access point, SOFIA RETA CO. assimilates the rules laid down by the pop complex, using this as a springboard for guerrilla style rerouting of marketing practises for more humanitarian goals.

The folk ensemble that blends pastoral images with lush orchestral pop, Soft Cat.

The mix of 90s indie-rock and catchy, guitar pop of Us and Only Us

In-your-face feminist punk rock War on Women, led by the Hollaback! Bmore director, Shawna Potter.

Wendel Patrick, who fuzes jazz, electronica and hip hop to create lush musical arrangements.

Which Magic features doomy folk rock songs and pop production. Lead by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Sara Autrey.

From Baltimore with Love will be a digital release available via a digital download code to people who back the Monument Quilt Tour on Kickstarter.  The mixtape will also be available in the future for purchase at Force events and online. Special thanks to Mat Leffler-Schulman of Mobtown Studios in Charles Village for mastering the compilation.

This summer, Force will celebrate the release From Baltimore With Love as well as the Monument Quilt Tour with a live concert featuring artists on the album. Information and tickets about this event will become available in the coming months.

Apr 14

Force and Say it With a Condom launch a new line of consent themed condoms

Force is partnering with Say It With A Condom to promote their new line of Consent Condoms! The condoms Say It With A Condom has designed are wrapped in slogans that say everything from “I <3 consent” to “Drinking is not a crime. Rape is.” Through the partnership, both organizations are working to find fun and creative ways to make consent part of everyday hook up culture.  
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Force Upsetting Rape Culture is a creative and activist effort to upset the dominant culture of rape and promote a counter culture based on consent.  They are most widely known for their viral panty prank where they pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting consent-themed panties and thongs.  They more recently received international press for pretending to be Playboy releasing a “Top Ten Party Commandments” guide to consensual sex for college students.

“Consent needs to be a mainstream idea and practice.  We need to see pop culture examples of healthy sexuality and respecting boundaries as much as ‘blurred lines’.  Communicating boundaries, needs, and desires is hot! We need a sexual revolution that makes practicing consent at the front of having good sex.” says Rebecca Nagle, Force co director.

Nagle continues, “Looking at the history and promotion of condom use, is a great example of how we can change behavior to slow an epidemic. Condom use was promoted for sexually active people in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 90s in order to prevent the transmission of HIV. Today, communication needs to be promoted among sexually active people in response to the epidemic of rape, assault and sexual violence in order to prevent unwanted sexual experiences. Just like pausing to put on a condom prevents STIs, pausing to check in with your partner prevents unwanted sexual experiences.”

Say It With A Condom is an alternative marketing company that advances strategic messages through condom packaging. The goal of their Consent Condoms campaign is to promote the idea that a conversation about consent prior to engagement in any sort of sexual activity is essential. “Consent should never just be assumed or implied, and that is what we hope this line of Consent Condoms will convey,” says Alicia Thomas, Director of Marketing and Communications at Say It With A Condom.

"The goal here is to upset rape culture by making a conversation about consent an essential, sexy part of any hook-up,” says Benjamin Sherman, founder of Say It With A Condom. “We knew Force was the right partner for this campaign because we have the same end goals. We’re both trying to encourage consent in unique, fun ways that are just crazy enough to make a real difference."

Condoms are a great place for a consent message because knowing and respecting people’s safer sex needs is part of consensual sex. Before sex, talk to your partner about standards for using protection and then follow those standards. You might be accustomed to using condoms for vaginal or anal sex, and learn that your partner also uses condoms for oral sex. If you are in an open relationship, its good to talk about what protection to use when hooking up with other people. Decide what everyone is comfortable with and set clear guidelines. After you have had a conversation about safe sex, it is easier to follow your safe sex practices (to grab that condom) when you’re all hot and bothered.

In addition to promoting consent, Say It With A Condom is supporting Force by donating 25% of the profits to the activist group.  For a limited time, you can purchase a consent condom and support Force’s Kickstarter for The Monument Quilt Tour.  The Monument Quilt is a collection of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. By stitching our stories together we are creating a new culture where survivors are public supported rather than publicly shamed.

Consent Condoms

Support our Kickstarter and get a 10 pack of these consent condoms!!

Apr 07

Force announces a 10-city tour for the Monument Quilt.

Today, Force launched a Kickstarter to fund a tour of The Monument Quilt. The 2014 tour will give cities and towns the opportunity to witness the quilt, engage in the project and transform their local response to rape.

The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse.  Created by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the quilt creates public space for survivors to heal.  

“By stitching our stories together, survivors are creating and demanding public space to heal.” says Hannah Brancato, Force Co-director. “The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but to work together to forever change how people in the US respond to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed.”

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At our first display in DC, visitors gather at the quilt to support survivors. Theresa Keil Photography

The tour will make 10 stops in cities, towns and communities across the Eastern half of the United States this August.  Tour stops are determined by local interest and partner organizations. If you are interested in bringing the Monument Quilt to your town contact us at upsettingrapeculture@gmail.com.

“We are going to work with schools, churches, advocacy groups, crisis centers and community organizations in each city to plan their display,” says Brancato. “At each 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. The tour will strengthen and deepen the impact of the monument quilt by engaging communities on the ground.”

Last May, FORCE raised nearly $27,000 to kickstart the Monument Quilt. Since then, they have also leveraged more than $300,000 in in-kind donations. With these resources they have moved into a studio, held two public displays, launched a new website, and are continuing to collect and stitch together squares from across the country.

“After holding displays in Baltimore and DC, we realized more people in more places need to see and experience the quilt,” said Rebecca Nagle, one of the project organizers. “That’s why we are taking the quilt on the road across the US, and we’re looking to you to help make this tour happen.” 

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Witnesses to the Baltimore and DC display had this to say about being with the quilt:

"I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that FORCE started this project, because it means that my experience matters," said Melanie. "It means that what happened to me and others like me shouldn’t be kept hush-hush and shouldn’t be ignored because it’s part of a larger system of gender-based violence.  Until now, no one has prioritized survivors of rape enough to create a public space for us to heal, be safe and for others to reflect on its place in our society."

"If I had to sum up my experience of the quilt in one word, I would say the quilt was ‘safe,’” said one visitor to the DC display.  “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."

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To support the Monument Quilt tour you can donate to the Kickstarter and share the link with friends and family.  If you are interested in engaging your local community in the tour contact Force at upsettingrapecultuare@gmail.com.

There are many other ways to get involved in the quilt project.  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. All the different ways to engage, resources for survivors, information about upcoming events, and more can be found at themonumentquilt.org.

About FORCE

FORCE recently received international press for pretending to be Playboy releasing a “Top Ten Party Commandments” guide to consensual sex for college students. Force is also widely known for our viral panty prank, where we pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting consent themed slogans on undies and thongs.  We also projected “RAPE IS RAPE” onto the US Capitol Building, and  floated a poem written by a survivor in the reflecting pool of the lincoln memorial.

Their work has been covered by national press including NPR and the New York Times. The Huffington Post has said, “FORCE is doing a good job with a hard to digest topic, capturing the public imagination with their tactics.”