My first venture into craftivism for the We Believe You campaign

So, fired up by the Mumsnet “We Believe You” campaign I decided to take my first foray into craftivism, using craft to promote a socio-political message. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I’ve found it hard to get fired about anything. I mean, I can get faux-fired up about things, and off course there is plenty in the news to get worked up about, but my political knowledge is limited, and world events aren’t often at the top of my priority list.

 

But when I read about campaigns like the “We Believe You” and am reminded about the awful abuses people I know have faced, the embers start to stir a little.

 

I knocked a couple of things up in the space of last night and this morning. Now, normally I am in total awe of most of the crafters and artists I read about online, and what they manage to achieve. Today was my day at home with Iris, and because I have been feeling a little under the weather and running on empty my lovely husband spent the past 2 days emptying the laundry basket, cleaning the house, and making lasagne so that I don’t have to do anything except stop the baby from killing herself for two days and the go on the school run. So with that and the help of Peppa Pig I managed to produce a couple of craftivist pieces.

 

The first one is inspired by the mini protest banners developed by the Craftivist Collective:

More than 80% of women who are raped know their attacker*. Putting these out tonight was a bit of a whim, I drove until I found somewhere to put it. I chose a fence just outside the University campus. I have no research to back this up, but my gut instinct say that University students are pretty vulnerable to sexual attack. Young, sometimes naive adults, with their first taste of freedom, finding their way in the world, coupled with copious amounts of alcohol, close living quarters are almost a perfect storm for sexual exploitation.

 

Outside the University campus

 

The next one I fear hasn’t quite met it’s potential…

 

Laid out flat it looks cool, but I ended up dumping and running with this one. I drove into the nearby city which I rarely go to because I used to live in the nearby town which I ‘naice’ and the city is not. But the city is now closer and I should really get used to that rather than schlepping 6 miles into Naice Town. I parked my car at the station without paying for a ticket as it was 7pm and I thought I’d chance my luck, but already I was nervous. This was a difficult one too as I had no idea where this yarn bomb would fit so I just picked a post that I thought was suitable and got sewing, conscious of the men standing outside the nearby pub. I wonder if I will ever not feel stupid doing this?! But here is is anyway:

 

Well, if one person reads it and checks out the hash tag then it has served it’s purpose. Maybe I can inspire some other people to give this craftivism thing a crack. The stupid feeling only lasts about 3 minutes!

 

*Investigating and detecting recorded offences of rape. Home Office, 2007

 

 

 

You’re not going out dressed like that

So, for those of you who read my blog just for the craft you might want to skip this post. This is where I get a bit serious, but I am not going to apologise because this is important to me, and what is the point in having people’s ears (or eyes) and not using it for good.

 

1 in 4 women have experienced rape or attempted rape. How many women are in your house? How many female friends and family do you have? Think about that statistic 1 in 4 women have experienced rape or attempted rape.

 

So, there are so many issues that I could tell you about rape, about how in no other crime is the victim grilled about what they were wearing during the crime, what their sexual predilections are. I could remind you that last year the Coalition started talking about anonymity for men accused of rape, when there is no evidence that false allegations of rape are higher than for any other crime. But for those of you who are concerned for those men at the mercy of all these women out there they have The False Rape Society advising them how to avoid being falsely accused of rape, including avoiding sex with young girls who may want to hide it from their parents, group sex with just one woman several men and sex with a woman who has a husband or boyfriend. Now, I’d like to reiterate those warnings to men, but not because you may get accused of rape, but because they are morally repugnant.

 

But I am going to skate over those issues, serious as they are. I am joining Mumsnet’s “We believe you campaign” to try and bust some common rape myths some of which I have copied here:

 

MYTH: Women provoke rape by their appearance or their behaviour

It’s never your fault.  No woman ‘asks to be raped’ or ‘deserves what she gets’ – only the rapist is responsible for the rape.

REALITY: Dressing attractively, or flirting, is never an invitation to rape. Rape is not a ‘crime of passion’ – it is an expression of power and control.

No woman ‘asks to be raped’ or ‘deserves what she gets’ – only the rapist is responsible for the rape.  Rape happens to all types of women, from the very young to the very old – physical appearance is irrelevant.

There is no ‘typical rape victim’. There is only one common factor in all rapes, and that is the rapist. So when someone says to you “You’re not going out dressed like that” it should be because they have toilet roll stuck to the bottom of their shoe, or are wearing a Jedward t-shirt.

 

MYTH: Women are most likely to be raped by a stranger, outside, in dark alleyways

Myth

REALITY: More than 80% of women who are raped know their attacker; 53% of perpetrators of serious sexual assaults are current partners or ex-partners.

In fact, over two-thirds of rapes take place in the victim’s home, the suspect’s home or the victim/suspect’s shared home. This myth can mean that women who are raped in these circumstances don’t identify their experience as rape, and therefore don’t report it.

It also puts blames the victim, and limits women’s freedom of movement by implying that rape can be prevented by avoiding certain places.

 

The exemption for rape in marriage was only abolished in England and Wales in 1991. Until then being married held an ‘implied consent’ to sex. This isn’t meant to scaremonger people to be be afraid of their friends and family. It is meant to stop women having to be afraid of every stranger they pass in the stress.

 

Now, I am lucky enough to have never been the victim of rape or any kind of physical sexual assault, but I know people who have, and I am the mother of daughters so I want to show my support to this campaign and get people thinking a bit more about the facts and realities surrounding this awful crime.

 

I want you to know, I Believe You.