The #FBrape campaign is the most recent cue shining light on the stage of complex issues involving assault against women in the U.S.
Last Tuesday America’s supreme obsession and top four tech company, Facebook, announced it will update its policies on hate speech to include material that is degrading to women.
The statement was the result of a nationwide protest led by over 100 women’s advocacy groups in response to images on Facebook that depict graphic images of violence against women.
While Facebook initially defended the content as “crude attempts at humor,” the company quickly turned the dial down on corporate posturing when over 60,000 users bombarded the company's advertisers with tweets tagged #FBrape and received over 5,000 emails due to the widespread awareness brought by these women’s coalitions like, “Women, Action and the Media” (WAM!)
Important and dynamic problems like this would be thrown below deck as the ship of status quo sailed on if it wasn’t for the multitude of spectacular women's groups that fight tirelessly to keep these issues above water and patch solutions together like sails guiding our culture in a progressive direction.
There are a hundreds of fabulous organizations all with their own history, mission and unique twist on how to better the current culture of sexual violence in the U.S.
Here are two awesome emerging organizations to watch in action:
1. Human Rights Project For Girls
“An estimated 293,000 American children are at risk of becoming victims of child sex trafficking each year.” This is one of the most astounding of many statistics this organization relays as part of their mission for political revolution.
Rights4Girls works to frame issues of gender-based violence in the U.S. as a human rights issue.
“This is the way we as a society construe such issues when they happen in the third world. The rate of sexual and physical violence against women here in the U.S. is actually on par with the rates in developing countries,” says Yasmin Vafa, Director of Law and Policy for Human Rights Project For Girls.
Based in Washington D.C., they give young women a platform to be heard by legislators creating a meaningful conversation through educational events and forums all of our Nation’s Capital. From The White House to Congress to the Department of Justice, Rights4Girls trains policy makers on these issues that impact girls nationwide to help foster better strategies and practices to improve the lives of girls “at the margins.”
The focus is on domestic sex trafficking, one of the most pervasive forms of sexual violence affecting girls in the U.S. today.
Among numerous notable accolades, they successfully assisted development of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Trafficking Victims Protections Act (TVPA), which President Obama signed into law on March 7. The expansive version of the bill includes new protections for minorities who are disproportionately affected by violence and for the first time ever recognizes child victims of trafficking as victims of sexual violence.
On June 5, Rights4Girls will co host an event with Google for the female members of the House of Representatives. It's a bipartisan event on Capitol Hill inviting the "Women of the House" to stand up on behalf of American girls who have been trafficked and exploited in the U.S. using the “Our Daughters Are Not For Sale Proclamation.”
Pretty amazing stuff. You can contribute to here.
2. FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture
FORCE asks, “What culture do you want to live in?” With a completely different approach than Rights4Girls, Force uses a creative artistic approach to activism in the hope of sparking “honest conversation” in America around sexual violence. Their “Art Actions” are a remarkably unique and dynamic way to trigger dialogue around what they call “rape culture.” Their view is that we as an American society are bombarded by “images, language and laws that perpetuate rape.” Like our recent reminder in the #FBrape campaign, FORCE explains that this barrage of sexist and violent innuendo makes assault against women seem normal and that normalcy in turn preserves a culture where rape and violence are inevitable. The FORCE solution: Fierce imagination will inspire change.
In February, they floated 24 massive Styrofoam letters spelling a poem written by a rape survivor on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
They formed a partnership with “Pink” underwear line called “Pink Loves Consent” promoting a sexy spin on the principles of consenting sexual partners.
During the 2012 national election, FORCE projected “Rape is rape” on the side of the Capital building with personal stories from survivors, all of which fell outside the legal definition of “forcible rape.” The activation literally illuminated what is missing from the legal conversation on violence against women: the experience of survivors.
In 2014, FORCE plans to create a giant quilt of rape survivor stories that will cover the entirety of the national mall in Washington D.C. for a full week installation much like the historic AIDS quilt. “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 Rebbecca Nagle, co-director of FORCE. Go here to add your story.
You can check out all the latest FORCE stories and resources here.