DAY TWO: Museum of Rape Threats and Sexism

Museum of Rape Threats and Sexism is a digital installation created with crowd-sourced screenshots of rape threats and sexist comments that women have received online for raising their voices for social justice.

Isha Yadav

Museum of Rape Threats and Sexism is a digital installation created with crowd-sourced screenshots of rape threats and sexist comments that women have received online for raising their voices for social justice.

 It is a crowd-sourced project where over 70 Indian women have contributed screenshots of harassment, rape threats, violence, sexist comments and incidences of receiving unsolicited images of genitalia. 

It memorializes the verbal violence and visualizes the effect of violence and addresses the global menace of violence threats. Museum is part of a growing movement against sexual harassment and solidifies all women and their courage to speak against it, and in broader terms, the #MeToo movement. 

On-line harassment including rape threats  has become a new age mass crime that exists privately and is faced by a large number of women. These are not isolated incidents, and often the perpetrators escape from the clutches of law with impunity, through deliberate failure of mechanisms to address these crimes. Suffering in silence deprives women of their citizenship rights guaranteed by the constitution.

Museum is a form of social movement: it exposes structural violence and seeks to create an intervention into rape culture; not only displaying the threats but also the responses and resistances of women, many of whom have internalized the abuse as the new normal.

In a demonstrative sense  it creates an ongoing, peaceful and democratic conversation about the digital violence women endure, and women can keep contributing their screenshots to the same. 

Some documentation of the in-process museum creation. Screenshots crowd-sourced from anonymous women, a tapestry of imagination on cloth material, screenshot of Google form link how it was crowd-sourced, the Facebook post created to advertise this project

This is my attempt to memorialize our collective past that delves into political violence. This memorialization and remembrance and our phone galleries become the spaces of contestation of our radically gendered histories, ideologies, subjectivities and imaginaries. The number of screenshots that women have contributed towards this project demonstrate the urgent need for such an intervention. The exhibition seeks to explore the dynamic ways through which affected communities can speak for themselves. 

Created with screens and slides of rape threats and sexist comments that women receive on-line, for raising their voices for social justice, these have been crowd-sourced through a Google Form Link. Screenshots of verbal assaults, violence and harassment, incidences with pornographic images, unsolicited genital pix that women receive in their inboxes through social media are curated into motion graphic videos and projected simultaneously using 3 projectors. The screening viewers/visitors are given a Trigger Warning Note at the door, to protect them from viewing triggering content without their will. On entering the exhibit, the viewers roam around the exhibition-room, the room is vacant with nothing other than projectors placed. 

It is an experiential walkaway. There is no sound. The tone of the exhibit is serious, yet calm.

I invite the viewers to experience a sense of trauma, yet only passively. The screenshots, although sourced over time, and through different individuals, when collated together evoke a sense of repulsion, outrage and hostility. The installation titled as a ‘museum’ presents itself as a visual archive of the subject, the vast expanse of not only data, proofs and records but also of inflicted emotions like trauma, pain, shame, conflict, rage, and verbal violence. 

I began this project by writing a social media post on Facebook and Instagram, crowdsourcing screenshots from women around me. I forwarded a Google form link, and sent personal messages inviting screenshots and making conversation about this, it is an ongoing project. Several of them said they deleted, several of them engaged in conversations with the senders about the affect of the verbal abuse and did not let the incident traumatize them. A few of them did not want any conversation till they were comfortable recalling the incident, and a complete new category of women laughed off at the commonality of these incidences. 

My idea was to explore connection, and create a lens for memorializing violence. The ethnography, overall, triggers action for the cause and becomes a strong indicator of where rape culture lies. It excavates the verbal violence from the normalization. 

The visual media here not only brings the digital artifact (screenshot) into the physical space of the exhibition but also transcends the private into public. The messages and comments that are often received on private chats are enlarged and publically displayed (names of the senders are concealed). The act of viewing somebody else’s private chat and trespassing into somebody’s moment of shame and rage points out to how much more is hidden and endured. The metaphor of museum is then evoked to point out to the large amount of facts hidden. 

Museum of Rape Threats and Sexism is a project that expands our understanding of sexual violence, gender based violence, victimhood and resistance and urges us to seek constitutional justice for the same.

Isha Yadav is Founder and Curator of Museum of Rape Threats and Sexism and PhD candidate in Women and Gender Studies at Ambedkar University Delhi.  In her doctoral thesis she is exploring some of the art installations created around the world that report and challenge violence against women. 

DAY TWO: Digital Women – Gender Based Violence in the Online Space

What happens when the same digital space that enables women to be who they want to be is also the same space where women become targets of misogynistic threats? This articles delineates the author’s experiences with perpetrators and an unhelpful police force.

I put my story and my voice out into the world. I braced myself – I knew what was coming…

Megan Bellatrix Archibald

Women living in 2020 have an opportunity that many women who came before them did not have – and that is the opportunity to present themselves to the world exactly as they wish to. This is perhaps especially poignant for female-identifying celebrities, who would formerly have had everything they said to the press about their lives come through the filter of a (likely, male) PR representative. However, irrespective of your celebrity status, women now have the opportunity to entirely control the narrative around their own lives, to express their views, their artworks and their expertise to a global audience – at their fingertips. We are entirely in control of our own image, and that’s what fourth-wave feminism is all about, empowering women, utilising the Internet to do it. However, this online space has opened up the opportunity for a new, unique form of gender based violence against women.

Continue reading “DAY TWO: Digital Women – Gender Based Violence in the Online Space”

DAY ONE: Introducing the 16 Days Blogathon 2020!

Welcome to our annual blogathon to mark the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

Photo: UN Women/Patrick Reoka licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Welcome to our annual blogathon to mark the global  16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. We are now in our fourth year of bringing together voices from civil society, academia, art, activism, and government around the world as our contribution to this ongoing struggle. The blogathon marks a continuing collaboration between GenderEd at the University of Edinburgh, the Australian Human Rights Institute at UNSW Sydney and Ambedkar University, Delhi

Gender-based violence – including domestic violence – is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms and cultural practices. One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence.

We know that during times of crisis and instability, the threat of GBV increases. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has had wide ranging consequences globally and has exacerbated economic and social inequalities. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have also thrown into sharp relief the longstanding hidden pandemic of gender based violence.  And it has underscored the grim feminist insight that ‘home’ can be a dangerous, sometimes deadly, place for women and girls – and for people with marginalised gendered identities.  As the UN Secretary General has noted:

“Accompanying the crisis has been a spike in domestic violence reporting, at exactly the time that services, including rule of law, health and shelters, are being diverted to address the pandemic.”

Gender-based violence – including domestic violence – continues to be an urgent and intractable issue that blights the lives of women and girls and diminishes their rights. Along with the writers whose work you will read over the coming days, and the more than 6,000 organisations who run 16 Days campaigns across 187 countries every year, we are united in our commitment to women’s equality and share a desire to see a world free from sexual and gender-based violence.

From Monday 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day), we will be posting blogs that explore pressing issues in gender-based violence. 

Through their blogs, we travel from Scotland to South Korea; from Australia to South Africa via India and beyond. We see how gender-based violence exists in all spheres – from past to emerging and ongoing conflicts, historic injustices, in houses and on university campuses, in villages and cities. And increasingly, overwhelmingly, in virtual spaces. 

Our remarkable contributors look at digital violence and resistance; they interrogate the multiple meanings of home and the role of art and design based practices to rethink gendered space.  We report on ten years of ‘counting dead women’ in the UK one of the first femicide censuses in the world. And we learn about the power of art  (visual, performance, music and dance) to resist, expose and survive gender-based violence; to provoke a reckoning and to seek justice and change

As well as artists and performers, this year we have amplified student voices and we are delighted that our contributors in 2020 include current and recent students of AUD Women and Gender Studies, Social Design and Sociology, Edinburgh College of Art and SOAS,UK .

We will be posting updates on Twitter from @UoE_genderED and @HumanRightsUNSW and look forward to sharing these stories with you over the next 16 days. We hope that you will share them further.  

Opening our 2020 blogathon is Jo Clifford  – playwright, trans performer and activist – and creator of The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven  an extraordinary piece of work which has been transforming lives – and provoking hate for ten years. She writes about the experiences faced by the Brazilian production in a country which is the most dangerous in the world for trans people.

Signed, Co-curators of the 16 Days blogathon

  • Fiona Mackay, Director genderED, University of Edinburgh
  • Louise Chappell, Director Australian Human Rights Institute, University of New South Wales
  • Rukmini Sen, Director Center for Publishing, Ambedkar University Delhi
  • Aerin Lai, student editor, University of Edinburgh
  • Jessica Shao, student editor, University of New South Wales

DAY ONE: Art as resistance in the face of hate

In Brazil – a country that kills more trans women than anywhere else – performing trans art as resistance can be a matter of life and death.

Picture above: Actress Renato Carvalho in O’ Evangelho Jesus, Rainha Do Ceu (Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven). Reproduced by permission

Jo Clifford

The show had gone really well, considering.

The actress and crew were exhausted: they’d flown up the night before, had to stay in a different town from the performance, and Jimmi, the stage manager, had had very little time to set up.

Natalia, the director, had been with the actress while she’d been vomiting with fear.

This wasn’t just stage fright. The threats Renata had received before coming up to this town in north Brazil had been graphic and horrifying.

Brazil is the country which kills more trans women than anywhere else on earth.

Continue reading “DAY ONE: Art as resistance in the face of hate”