What You Need to Know About Take Back The Night & Craftivism

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Women’s Center is hosting its fifth consecutive Take Back The Night (TBTN) on Thursday, April 13th. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of questions about what Take Back the Night exactly is, why it looks the way it does, and how students can get involved. To help get those questions answered this year, we’ve doing a “What You Need to Know” series focused on TBTN so stay tuned for more posts over the next couple of weeks. This is the fifth post in the series and it focuses on the last part of Take Back the Night which is craftivism and community building.

Hearing and sharing survivors’ stories of sexual violence can be empowering, challenging, and emotional. We know that people process their feelings in different ways, and so following survivor speak out and march, the event continues with Craftivism on Main Street. This portion of the program is intended to provide space for reflection, creative expression, and community building.

When the marchers return to Main Street, there will be tables set up with art supplies for anyone wishing to contribute to one of the community craft projects we’ll have available: the FORCE Monument Quilt, the Clothesline Project, and the Dear Survivor scrapbook. We also encourage attendees to check out the resource tables to learn more about various campus and community organizations and services.

A volunteer from FORCE will be present to assist anyone interested in making a quilt square for the Monument Quilt. The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of testimonials from survivors of sexual violence, as well as their allies. This national project will eventually blanket the National Mall with the phrase Not Alone. The quilt is a way to demand public space to heal, and create a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.

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A community member works on a Monument Quilt square.

All are welcome to add a page to our Dear Survivor scrapbook, which features messages of hope, healing, and solidarity from survivors and allies who have attended TBTN in past years. The scrapbook can be found in the Women’s Center lounge.

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The Dear Survivor scrapbook offers messages of healing and solidarity.

Materials for the Clothesline Project will be available for survivors who would like to give voice to their experience by decorating a shirt that will be displayed during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every April, these shirts are hung shoulder-to-shoulder on a clothesline on Main Street to give public testimony to the problems of sexual and gender-based violence. Please note that while allies are invited to participate in the Monument Quilt and Dear Survivor scrapbook, the Clothesline Project is intended for those who identify as survivors.

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TBTN attendees decorate T-shirts for the Clothesline Project.

For those who prefer a quieter space for reflection, there will be a self-care station set up in the commuter lounge available during the survivor speak out and the rest of the evening. There will be tissues, stress balls, coloring supplies, and other resources for self-care. The station also provides a more private space where attendees can speak with one of the counselors on call, if needed.

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Tissues, coloring, and other self-care resources will be available in the self-care station during and after the speak out.

For more information about UMBC’s TBTN (check out Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too by searching the hashtag #UMBCTBTN):

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Slaying on the Weekly: Prison Reform and other Cool Things

A weekly round-up curated by Women’s Center staff member, Michael Jalloh Jamboria

In the spirit of my friend, who gave us the glorious name ‘Slaying on the Weekly’, every week I will be bringing you some interesting, funny or thought-provoking content from the internet! Be sure to join us next week for more and continue to slay!

This week I watched Do I Sound Gay? on Netflix. It’s an interesting documentary which explores the origin of the ‘gay voice’. It’s also available on Youtube.

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As we prepare for the October Roundtable, Queer (De)coded, some of the Women’s Center staff are re-reading Women’s Center staff member, Daniel Wiley’s post on ‘Gay Hair‘. Check it out!

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Finally, in worldly news, President Obama shortened the sentences of 102 inmates who committed non-violent crimes. This makes 774 commuted sentences in the entirety of his presidency! We applaud Pres. Obama’s commitment to prison reform!

Continue to slay! See you next week!

 

What does the overlap of art and activism look like?

Kelly Martin Broderick with her Self(ie) Portrait

A year ago, I was working at the Howard County Arts Center when Diana Marta, one of the resident artists,  bought an antique dress form.  While looking at the mannequin in her studio,  she wondered what an ordinary women’s wardrobe would look like through time.”  I remember talking to her after she purchased the form and discussing this topic with her.  Diana decided that she wanted to curate a show exploring the topic of “ordinary women” and the clothing they would wear. Each artist was asked to create a garment that could be worn by the dress form and to also create a self portrait to be displayed along with the dress. It was 2012 when she asked me and 13 other women  to participate in the show and that’s when I started to think about what the phrase “Ordinary Woman” meant to me.

I knew I wanted to do something that challenged our expectations of womanhood and how we’ve constructed being a woman in our society. First, I needed to find a garment.  I don’t sew, so I would have to find a dress.  I wanted something that was the epitome of femininity, to give me a starting point to disrupt that expectation. I found the perfect dress in a thrift shop in Baltimore; it was pink, satin, long, and once upon a time had been a bridesmaids dress.  It said everything I wanted it to say.

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Next, I had to figure out what I was going to do with the dress.  At first, I thought I would be gluing or sewing different objects or embellishments onto the dress.  Like a giant collage of objects that defined womanhood to me.  But the longer I thought about the project, I realized how difficult it would be to find these objects, so I started to think about covering the dress with words.

As children we are told that “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you” but in reality, words DO hurt us.  If they didn’t we wouldn’t have a rash of kids committing suicide because of bullying or the pain of microaggressions that so many people experience daily.  For women, many of the words that define our lived lives are double edged — tell a girl she’s pretty and that’s a good thing, but only as long as she isn’t too pretty.  Almost all of the descriptors written on the dress create a world of expectations that keep women in their “place,” or so distracted as we try to meet every expectation that we don’t have a chance to question the treatment we receive in society. The bottom of my dress is stained black, to symbolize how these expectations drag women down. 

Self(ie) Portrait, 2014 – Kelly Martin Broderick

For my self portrait, I was inspired by the backlash and support of “selfies” that has been unfolding in the online feminist community these last few months.  It seems like every time you turn around there is another article disparaging selfies as vain, objectification,  a cry for help, or singing their praises as political, radicalempowering, as good for girls, or as a revolution. Veronica I. Arreola at Viva La Feminista called for a #365feministselfie project, stating “Women of Color rarely see themselves reflected in media, people over a size 4 are told to hide themselves, transgender persons want to be seen…hell, a lot of people responded to anti-selfie moments by saying, “I do not see myself represented in the media, so I’m making my own!”  This project brings attention and visibility to feminists and helps to garner the political power of the selfie.  I’m participating over on Instagram (follow me! @artsykelly) and I am loving the new community of feminists I’m meeting through it.  I used the selfies I had taken throughout the last year and created a collage of images representing myself.

Ordinary Woman at the Howard County Arts Council through Friday, February 21st.

This is where that overlap of art and activism is created for me.  I knew how I wanted my dress to look and I knew that the visual of a typical bridesmaids dress covered in words that can be positive or negative would be impactful.  I wanted people to walk away from my dress disturbed.  I wanted to jar them and make them think, while also creating something that was visually interesting.  It isn’t art just for art’s sake, it’s art with a message, open to interpretation by the viewer.

monument quilt 2This March, as a part of Critical Social Justice and UMBC’s Art Week 2014, the Women’s Center will be presenting a Feminist Art Show on the Mezzanine Gallery in the Commons.  We will be featuring pieces of the Monument Quilt, an art project being curated by FORCE, an art activist effort to upset the dominant culture of rape and promote a counter-culture of consent.   The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse. We are also asking for students, staff, and community members to submit feminist art of their own.

Call For Art

To submit art, please email your images to kelly23@umbc.edu