Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Project Unbreakable - Trigger Warning

"In October of last year, Grace Brown began a photography project called Project Unbreakable. Grace uses photography to help heal sexual abuse survivors by photographing them with posters that hold quotes from their attackers. Rape survivor and advocate for victims of sexual abuse, Yvonne Moss, describes the project as a way for victims to take the power back of the words that were once used against them."

This is the description for the Project Unbreakable Tumblr. Brown's incredible mission is just that, incredible, and her dedication is inspiring. In response to one reader's comment to "Never, ever, stop" Brown replied:

"This fills my heart with so much gratitude. I don’t plan on stopping. It would take an army of millions to even make me think about stopping."

There are scores of difficult-to-read but wonderful submissions from women and men, and each page of submissions is interspersed with comments and questions from readers. I think this one is my favorite:

"Anonymous asked: Hi. I am 16 years old and male and I want to share this with someone. I have had desires towards my half sister who is 4 years old, and I hate myself for it. I am able to maintain common sense, empathy, and logic, and I would NEVER follow through with what I sometimes feel. I wanted to share this because it's not something I can say to anyone that I know personally. It sickens me that someone might think it's something that can't be controlled. I am so thankful that I can control it. Thanks."

I read this three or four times before I processed it fully. This young man is trying to understand himself and better himself, to keep his sister safe and (thought maybe not consciously) rebuke the notion that we are ruled by our bodies and our sexual desires. I can't claim to understand his experience, but I applaud him for seeking help. Men are not born to be abusers. Neither are women. Women are not born to be victims. Neither are men - at the hands of other people or our own minds.

We can all move past victim blaming, past harmful gendered assumptions, past a society that silently condones violent, non-consensual sexual acts. We can do it together. We can do it by supporting the efforts of Project Unbreakable and activists like Grace Brown.

Here's the video that clued me in to this wonderful movement:

Also, if you're so inclined, check out the shiny Donate button the Project Unbreakable site and help fund Brown's travels so she can photograph more survivors and add to this brilliant visual display of strength and resilience.

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