This project was a collaboration between 2 collectives that I am a part of: feminist team FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture and the activist collective Luminous Intervention. The project was conceptualized by Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle, and carried out by the two of us along with Dan Zink and other members of Luminous Intervention. Photos are courtesy of Casey McKeel.
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.
Between the stories, the words RAPE IS RAPE were projected.
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:
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 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.