Dealing with Rape Culture // Installation THEN HE CAME INTO MY ROOM...
On Wednesday 3rd of July, during the punk bar of our house project, we dealt with an act of sexual assault. A man invaded our house, went into
one of the rooms and raped one person who was inside. Regarding to this we wrote a statement and started an installation in front of our house,
at Dorfplatz, with the mattress of the rape on Monday, the 30th of July. On Friday, the 3rd of August it will be outside again.
On Wednesday 3rd of July, during the punk bar of our house project, we dealt with an act of sexual assault. A man invaded our house, went into one of the rooms and raped one person who was inside. The man was followed outside the house, confronted verbally and questioned. He pretended not to understand what the person was talking about and denied any involvement.
Violence against women is based on systems of power, male supremacy and the construction by the male gaze of women and female bodies. A construction of objects always ready to fulfill their needs.
Rape is not a man natural's desire for sex.
Rape is the consequence of patriarchy and domination: it is systematic and structural.
Those threads of domination exist within us, in our every day actions and relationships (sexual or not), in our political groups, in the places we work. Every time a man cat calls a female body in the street or thinks that a woman is asking for it, or even deserves it because of the way she's dressed or walks, he reproduces all the sexist and misogynistic behaviour in which rape culture is built upon.
Since we were born, we have been raised to believe that men are entitled to privileges to which we are not, that they are the strong ones, those who possess knowledge and that we must be quietly left behind, silent and obedient. We have been told that rapists are a special kind of people ouside of normal behaviour.
But rapists are not a special kind of men: they are the healthy sons of patriarchy.
We pathologize the rapist as someone with psychological problems and in special need of help. But rapists can be anyone. Your father, your friend, your comrade. Every cis-male can be a potential rapist because every cis-male has been raised to be dominant. Male dominant behaviour is built in schools, in the football fields, in brothels.
Men are the ones who can impose their existence to us, who can put our gender at a constant risk of violation.
Men are the only ones who have this predatory practice of entering a home into the night, raping a person sleeping in her room, leave as if nothing happened and pretend that nothing did when confronted.
Because really, in their mind, this is their right.
And we are the ones who grow up with the intrinsic consciousness that this, one day, might happen to us.
We can't destroy rape culture without destroying society in the same way we can't destroy capitalism without dismantling the economical system and class structure. We keep shouting why feminism is important and we are always confronted, even among fellow comrades of political groups, that feminism is something secondary and sexism or oppression of gender is something that doesn't exist.
Feminism is our tool to define our needs and our own desires, to protect ourselves from cis-men violence and power dynamics. Feminism is our tool to take control of our bodies, to create safer spaces to breathe and exist while reflecting on our privileges. Feminism is our way to organize ourselves against all forms of oppression, to build our own networks of self-defense, deconstructing 'justice', the legal system and its deeply racist, classist and misogynistic structures.
We are not expecting anything from the state. We are fighting it.
And as we think that this incident cannot be solved in court cases, we have to find our own ways, take responsibility for our reactions and actions, and reflect our tactics.
Our communities are as vulnerable as any other space.
There are no safe spaces.
To make our spaces safer and for people to feel confortable in them, we need to be on permanent alert during organized events. It is everyone's responsibility to keep an eye on what's happening and protect each other.
In the same way we have internalized the likelihood of rape, we must also internalize a permanent sense of alert and defense, and trust our instincts and feelings when we don't feel confortable in the presence or behavior of a person. In particular in vulnerable situations like parties where alcohol is involved.
Feminist spaces must have this as a premise to every actions and event.
But other groups also have to rethink their issues and organize themselves accordingly.
Many people from the political groups may invalidate the incident or even doubt that it's true. It is time for everyone to make their own self-critique and deconstructions. Rape is not about sex but about power and its culture has been built upon normalized mechanisms and behavior that we have internalized and that we reproduce consciously or unconsciously, every day.
Deconstruct your own power structures, your own privileges.
Educate yourself. Your friends. The people around you.
We are taught how to avoid rape but men are not being taught not to rape.
This is not a private matter to be hidden behind closed doors but a political one. The sharing of these experiences can create new bonds of solidarity, help us rebuild networks of trust, support and new tactics to fight back. This is a call for all the groups to discuss your own protocols of security, of self-defense, of support, of reaction to external aggressions. Opening up about gender violence in collective procedures and reinforcing our actions against sexism are playing a central role in our common fight against domination. Those who remain silent about patriarchal oppression and rape culture are only contributing to perpetuate repressive systems.
"In the end, it won't be the words of our enemies we remember, but the silence of our friends"
1. This is a personal account of one person's experience. We are not speaking on behalf of all survivors. Survivors of sexual assault are usually considered to be women but it can be any person that doesn't conform to patriarchal gender identities and sometimes even cis-male.
2. We don't invalidate in any way the decision of those who choose to follow a legal course of actions. In fact, in many other cases it can be the best choice for that particular person or situation. We are simply deciding, for political reasons, not to follow that course of action.
3. We are not looking for revenge. We are not asking for cis-male friends to avenge us either. Put aside your desires for masculine territoriality. Think of other forms of support.
THEN HE CAME INTO MY ROOM
On Wednesday 3rd of July, during the punk bar of our house project Liebig34, we dealt with an act of sexual assault. A man invaded our house, went into one of the rooms and raped one person who was inside.
THEN HE CAME INTO MY ROOM...is an installation that integrates the concepts behind two previous works, Tracey Emin´s 1998 ´My Bed´ and Kansas University´s 2014 ´What were you wearing?´. The ideaa behind it was to both bring our sister relief and also two start a conversation on the high price Rape Culture will have us pay day in and day out.
Rape Culture can be summarized as a set of practices and fundamental beliefs that are passed along from generation to generation, which enshrine toxic masculine behavior designed to create the illusion that anything remotely feminine is inferior to its dominant macho counterpart. Rape Culture is a set of dogmatic principles that institutes that cis men are entitled to anything they want to acquire, specfically femme bodies, and that their ´ownership´ implies neglecting consent, commenting, looking down on and ultimately possessing bodies and disrupting minds, with zero consequence and no regrets. It is a complex device that is deeply seeped into our everyday lives and that if not addressed early on in formative years, or actively dismantled in adulthood, can lead to severe damage, to self and others. No one is safe where Rape Culture is concerned.
Processes of accountability are tricky where Rape Culture is concerned. The victim will usually be found at fault, slut shamed and dismissed. Education, mutual support and public outcry in whichever form imaginable, can be the tools for self and collective healing, and hopefully to raise awareness and have real impact on gruesome statistics.
Throughout history, art has often times been deemed a catalyst for public action as well as the mirror to reflect social practices and find, if not clarity, visibility. Art can often times work as an exorcism to purge the rot and filth that capitalism and the patriarchy feed on. It is a magnet that can collect individual experiences of pain and trauma into one single overarching narrative, and a way of finding unity in singularity, and personal hope in systemic despair.
The installation THEN HE CAME INTO MY ROOM... is an opportunity to share your own story, anonymously, and to witness the elements of the crime be turned into a hammer for liberation. The outline includes a series of items of clothing intervened or re-interpreted through the lense of real stories of abuse in the first person, as well as the mattress and belongings that the assaultant left behind, placed on Dorfplatz, a historic place for typical macho behavior.
Stories have been and will continue to be collected through several means, interpersonal, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by way of a mailbox, placed outside the door at Liebig, where anonymous letters or accounts could be dropped. Power found in our collective scream that says RAPE CULTURE SHOULD BE DESTROYED!
At the 26th of August we will have a manifestation at Dorfplatz regarding Rape Culture, our stories and maybe also your stories. More infos soon!