Swears ahead! Delicate subject!
Okay, I know, I know. I hate the phrase "rape culture" too. It irritates me and I dislike it (though I can't really explain why). But I think it's the only way to explain this project.
And when I asked a question on my personal Facebook yesterday, it was the only phrase that came to mind when I read the answers I was getting. I realised it was (is) a very real thing.
I asked the women (men, and non-binary individuals) of my Facebook what they did/used when they felt unsafe walking alone/at night/in dodgy areas. The responses regarding improvised weapons and actual attack/harassment scenarios were pretty frickin' mortifying.
I had my friends tell me they refused to wear headphones so that they could listen and stay aware; that they deliberately walked lightly so they could hear following footsteps - or conversely that they walked very heavily to deter potential attacks. Some told me they called their dad, or their partner, or even just pretended to call someone so that if someone were to attempt an attack, they may be deterred by the fact that - at least to their knowledge - someone would notice if they disappeared, or didn't turn up on time.
"Hi, yeah! I'm on my way right now! I'll be there in five minutes!"
Friends told me they watched for reflections and unusual shadows in shop are car windows; that they looked for potentially friendly people or buildings, to know that if they had to scream someone would hear them; that they held their phone ready to use as a club; or stuck their keys between their fingers ready to gouge.
I had friends tell me that they had used spray deodorant as a defensive weapon because it was all they had and they needed something. Some female friends told me that they put their hood up so they would look less female.
The worst part is when someone pointed out to me that what we're really all doing here is saying "no, not me, I'm on the phone, I'll make a fuss - attack her instead, she's an easier target".
That makes me feel sick. I've wanted to do this project for a while and I'm not sure how I want to use some (or all) of the profits (likely a donation to some kind of charity which supports victims of violent attacks/rape etc.).
I know so far is that I'm liking the concepts so far:
The Will Be Missed - 5" by 7"
The Less Female - 5" by 7"
The Eye Witness - 5" by 7"
The Keys - 5" by 7"
Mostly all I know so far is that I want simplicity, basic black line work and few colours. I want the violence to be imbued by the chaotic red in the background. I also quite like the quotes on the pieces themselves.
This project is still very much in its infancy but I really want to develop it because it's definitely an issue pretty close to my heart (though I'm really grateful and lucky that the worst kind of street harassment I've suffered is drunken chuntering in my general direction) and I really want to raise awareness of it.
Especially because the worst part of all of this is that if you have never experienced it, it's pretty likely that you have no idea that this is something people may experience when leaving the house. That they need to think of something else to use if someone attacks them, because they don't happen to have their keys.
Because I can exude as much confidence as I want, and I know I'm not an easy target - but the reality is there are still messed up individuals in this world who may think I am, so I gotta have an out if I ever encounter them.
If you want to help me out with this project you can message me through the contact form on here or just email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you use/do to protect yourself or make yourself feel safe when you're out and about on your own/at night/in dodgy areas.