Last month, a group of sexual assault prevention activists erected a makeshift monument to rape survivors on the National Mall, blanketing the nation’s capital with quilts displaying stories of sexual assault and abuse. And now, that installation could be headed to a city near you.
FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the feminist activist group behind this “Monument Quilt” project, hopes to take their work on the road with a 10-stop tour across the Eastern half of the United States. Last May, a successful crowdfunding effort raised enough funds for the first displays, and now FORCE wants to expand. They’re currently soliciting donations through Kickstarter to finance the effort, which they describe as a “public space for healing” within a culture that tends to shame rape victims instead of supporting them.
“After holding displays in Baltimore and DC, we realized more people in more places need to see and experience the quilt,” Rebecca Nagle, one of the project organizers, explained. “That’s why we are taking the quilt on the road across the US.”
Nagle and her fellow organizer, Hannah Brancato, have received largely positive feedback so far. Some of the people who have visited the Monument Quilt in person have described it as “powerful” and “life-altering.” Survivors have indicated that it gives them a safe and supportive space to tell their stories, which are displayed on different quilt squares and stitched together to form a large-scale response to the issue of sexual violence.
The forthcoming displays in new cities haven’t been finalized, but FORCE is interested in partnering with local groups that may better understand the specific needs of their community. On the Kickstarter page, the group is encouraging activists to get in touch if they’re interesting in bringing the Monument Quilt to their town.
“We are going to work with schools, churches, advocacy groups, crisis centers and community organizations in each city to plan their display,” Brancato explained. “At each display attendees will be able to witness survivor’s stories, write their own reflections, enjoy cookies, listen to music and speeches, and join in community.”
FORCE is well-known for its creative campaigns to get people talking about the issue of rape culture. The group has installed other temporary monuments in Washington, DC — like projecting “rape is rape” onto the side of the U.S. Capitol and floating a poem written by a survivor in the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial. Eventually, FORCE hopes to build some type of permanent monument to rape survivors.