On the eve of the presidential inauguration in 2017, survivors of rape and abuse projected building-sized statements of how Trump reminds them of their abusers in Oakland, California and Washington DC. The projections were stills from a video by DISCLOSE, an Oakland-based art-activism collective.
As Trump supporters and protesters poured into the nation’s capitol for inauguration weekend, the front facade of the Washington DC Convention Center was lit up with statements like “In this man’s words I feel the anger of the man who pinned me to the floor when I was 14”. The next night, the convention center hosted an inaugural ball, celebrating Trump’s presidency. In Oakland, California, DISCLOSE organized survivors and allies to march to the Oakland Police Department headquarters, where they projected the video upon the building’s front facade. The Oakland action was in protest of the inauguration of a “Rapist in Chief”, and to the repeated sexual exploitation, coercion and intimidation of sex worker Celeste Guap, whose story made national news in 2016.
“The members of the OPD who exploited Guap, like Trump, are examples of the endemic perpetuation of gender-based power and sexual harm, resulting in the continued oppression of all women, especially women of color and trans women,” said Jadelynn Stahl, from DISCLOSE.
In the video, titled “We Will Not Be Silent”, survivors name the parallels between the violence of the Trump presidency and the violence they’ve experienced in their own lives. The video concludes with a commitment to survivor-led organizing and resistance. The video was created by DISCLOSE, and includes the voices of several survivors of gender-based violence. It was projected by Luminous Interventions in collaboration with FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture in DC, and was projected by the San Francisco Projection Department in collaboration with DISCLOSE in Oakland.
“Survivors of rape and abuse, along with our supporters, are coming together to use our collective voice to name what is happening: a rapist is becoming president,” says Jadelynn Stahl from Oakland-based group DISCLOSE. “Not only has Trump bragged about sexual assault in his personal life, but through his public actions, rhetoric and policies, he - and the administration he has appointed- embody the racist, misogynist, xenophobic, classist, ableist, transphobic, and homophobic agenda that is the bedrock of rape culture in the US. We, as survivors of gender-based violence, came together to assert that our collective vision for a world without gender-based violence persists in the face of the impending administration. ”
“As survivors of violence, we know best the tactics that Trump uses to maintain power because we have lived it,” says Rebecca Nagle FORCE Co-Director. “We have been violated, we have been lied to, we have been gaslit. Trump is not new, but all too familiar. As a survivor and as a queer, Native woman I know deeply the hate that Trump embodies, because I live it everyday.”
The full video was released online as part of a #WeWillNotBeSilent Twitter storm coinciding with Trump’s swearing in ceremony. From noon to 1pm EST on Friday January 20th, survivors will be stating the ways Trump reminds them of their abusers using the hashtag #InThisMan. Survivors will also be naming how they plan to organize against and resist Trump with the hashtag #WeWillNotBeSilent. The Twitter storm is co-sponsored by Disclose, Force: Upsetting rape culture, Sister Song and North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault. A Storify from the event is available here.
DISCLOSE is a Bay Area, art-based, collectivist organization founded in the Spring of 2013 to address the pervasive issue of sexual violence. Project-based, they collaborate with artists, organizers and educators on events which aim to actively consult with and engage their diverse communities through outreach, education and direct action in order to facilitate dialogues that address the complex oppressive systems that allow sexual violence culture to thrive. We center the voices of POC, trans and gender-nonconforming folks and all Women.