A Monument for Rape Survivors

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A Monument for Rape Survivors

A Monument for Rape Survivors
Giant quilt of stories to blanket National Mall, mirroring AIDS memorial.

One group aims to highlight rape and abuse survivors’ personal stories in a very public space.

Art activists FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture set up the Monument Project to create an enormous quilt made of victims’ stories. The quilt, which will be placed across the National Mall in summer 2014, is envisioned to be a series of blankets assembled in giant fabric letters spelling the message: “We are heard. This is not our fault. We are not alone.”

Website: http://themonumentproject.org/
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Members: 1
Latest Activity: May 31, 2013

A Monument for Rape Survivors

A Monument for Rape Survivors
Giant quilt of stories to blanket National Mall, mirroring AIDS memorial.

One group aims to highlight rape and abuse survivors’ personal stories in a very public space.

Art activists FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture set up the Monument Project to create an enormous quilt made of victims’ stories. The quilt, which will be placed across the National Mall in summer 2014, is envisioned to be a series of blankets assembled in giant fabric letters spelling the message: “We are heard. This is not our fault. We are not alone.”

Survivors can submit their own stories on themonumentproject.org, which is due to launch the first week in June of this year. FORCE is collecting quilt stories for a year, but the website will always live on as a “virtual quilt.”

FORCE co-director Rebecca Nagle said the project’s intention is to provide a much-needed public monument for rape and abuse survivors. Since clinics and support groups formed in the 1970s, rape has historically been relegated to the private sphere, she said. The quilt will not be an ordinary stagnant monument—it invites people to sit, eat, and talk on it. Nagle said survivors’ stories will be positioned in such a way that viewers will have to interact with them in order to read the full stories.

The Monument Project is reminiscent of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was first displayed on the National Mall in 1987 and continues to exist online as the Name Project. As FORCE put it: “While the work of preventing AIDS is not over, the movement is a model for how a cultural shift can affect public health. Just as removing the stigma from AIDS slowed a growing epidemic, removing the stigma from rape could forever change the epidemic of sexual violence in the United States.”

Since FORCE is based in Baltimore, it will have a test run of a smaller version of the quilt in that city before it moves to Washington, D.C. Nagle said she wants to work with various churches, community groups, and feminist organizations to help build the quilt.

Some of the inspiration behind the Monument Project came from the book Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, Nagle said. One facet of the book is how posttraumatic stress disorder affects its victims, including war veterans or domestic-abuse survivors.   

FORCE gained attention for a temporary monument in the National Mall’s reflective pool last year, which was a giant poem reading, “I Can’t Forget What Happened But No One Else Remembers.” The group also pretended to be Victoria’s Secret, promoting consent-themed slogans such as “Ask First” and “No Means No” on underwear.

FORCE is raising funds for the Monument Project through Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/230742001/force-upsetting-rape-culture.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/cheats/2013/05/30/a-giant-quilt-for-rape-victims.html

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