During a busy morning commute, hill staffers and DC professionals had their regular routine disrupted by a group of Native women praying in Union Station. At 8am on Tuesday Nov 15, 20 people, led by DC Standing Rock Coalition and FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, gathered in Union Station, DC to pray that President Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Hope Butler (Piscataway Conoy Tribe of Maryland) stated, “President Obama, we fear what the future holds under Trump. If you do not stop the pipeline during your term, the blood of our relatives will be on your hands.”
While the profile of sexual consent has risen dramatically in the past few years, there is still a lot of confusion about consent in the mainstream media. Some people try to argue that consent is complicated, confusing, awkward or too difficult to practice. But we know that open and direct communication improves sex, and sex without consent is assault.
To show the endless ways people are happily practicing consent FORCE is hosting the “Negotiating Sex in 30 Seconds or Less” video contest. Groups from colleges and the general public are invited to make 30 second videos that demonstrate negotiating sex: from asking for a kiss, to discussing condom use, to describing just how you like it.
Here is the deal:
The contest will run from April 25 to October 1. Thanks to our funders and sponsors the Harnisch Foundation and Sugar, the video with the most “likes” will win a $1000 cash prize!
To enter the contest, upload your video to youtube and email the link to firstname.lastname@example.org the subject line “30 seconds”. Your video will be added to the official contest youtube playlist.
1. All videos must be 30 seconds long or less. Compilations of a series of 30 second clips will be accepted.
2. Videos must by submitted by midnight on OCTOBER 1 at 5p EST. All voting must conclude by October 3 at 9a EST
3. Voting will be by viewers choice, meaning that the winner will be the video with the most “likes” on youtube. Make sure you share your video widely for a fair shot at winning!
4. All videos must demonstrate consent. Consent is communication between sexual partners about what they do and do not want for their bodies. Consent must be enthusiastic and it must be ongoing. That means if you give consent once, you haven’t agreed to that sexual act for all time. Sex without consent is rape.
5. All videos should demonstrate how sex can be safe, empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent. Any videos that perpetuate rape culture will not be included in the contest.
6. FORCE reserves the right to disqualify any videos which do not follow the above rules.
The Monument Quilt
The Monument Quilt is an on-going collection of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. Written, stitched, and painted onto red fabric, our stories are displayed in city and town centers to create and demand public space to heal. The quilt resists the popular and narrow narrative of how sexual violence occurs by telling many stories, not one. The quilt builds a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.
To date, over 1,500 collected quilt squares have been displayed in 25 different cities across the US (read more on CNN and MSNBC). As the quilt continues to grow, survivors, loved ones and supporters are encouraged to make a square. In a culminating display in Washington DC, 6,000 fabric squares will blanket over one mile of the national mall to spell “Not Alone.”
FORCE created a coupon saver to protest a case in which, despite the fact that its store supervisor sexually assaulted a 13-year-old, Dollar General was fighting the survivor’s family and the survivor’s tribe to avoid paying any penalty for the molestation of a minor interning at their store. If ruled in Dollar General’s favor, this case would severely limit all American Indian Nations’ ability to protect their citizens from crimes like the sexual assault this young person experienced. In coordination with fellow Native American activists, FORCE created a fake “coupon saver” to bring attention to the above-mentioned Dollar General Supreme Court case.
In a rape culture, people are surrounded by language, laws, and everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape; it creates an environment where rape is a problem that seems like it cannot be solved.
Mourning and Rage
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.
PINK loves Consent
“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. You can read more about the campaign and people’s reaction in this Huff Post Article.
Rape is Rape
FORCE projected “RAPE is RAPE onto the US Capitol Building with stories of survivors during the 2012 national election. The stories fell outside of the definition of “forcible rape” and illuminate what is missing from the national conversation on the politics of rape: the experience of survivors. The demonstration was carried off in collaboration with Luminous Intervention.
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 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”
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. These stories were projected to force the issue.