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GRLCVLT's FvckRapeCulture NYC Event Brought Hundreds Together In Solidarity

A crowd of angry men and women sent 800 letters to de-seat Judge Aaron Persky last night. And that's only the beginning.

The line for GRLCVLT’s FvckRapeCulture event at Brooklyn's Holyrad Studios was around the block for most of the evening. Women and men were waiting to join their friends and strangers to take a stand, or a pen, against law enforcement’s complicity in rape culture. Inside and outside, attendees were filling out form letters to be mailed in a campaign to unseat Judge Aaron Persky, who infamously gave convicted rapist Brock Turner the shockingly short sentence of six months. The decision enraged people everywhere, though many struggled with how best to take significant action.

Remy Holwick is one of the main organizers of FvckRapeCulture events, which have now become an international movement with another one springing up in L.A., Sydney, and more to come. Thousands are attending. What started as a proposal for an evening of letter-writing became a coast-to-coast party dedicated to grassroots organizing. Holwick’s letter-writing suggestion on secret Facebook forum GRLCVLT had the group of 3,000 women jumping at the chance to actually do something with their feelings of anger and frustration.

For many, the story of Brock Turner’s victim was intensely personal. During some remarks to the crowd, Holwick asked for a show of hands:

“If you have been the victim or survivor of a rape or sexual assault, put up your hand. If your assailant went to jail, put your hand down.”

Of the dozen or so people in the room who felt safe enough to raise their hands, few appeared to put them down at the second part of Holwick’s question. She continued, “Out of this crowd, this many people’s assailants [gesturing to the raised hands in the audience] have served no time. This is why we’ve done this, this is why we are fighting rape culture, and this is why we have written the letter.”

#grlcvlt #fuckrapeculture

A photo posted by Laura Rubin (@laura_alyse) on

 

The letter itself demands the removal of Judge Aaron Persky, a symbolic gesture against the “proliferation of rape culture in the United States.” It reads in part:

“My stance concerning rape culture is as follows: It is unacceptable that we live in a society where victim blaming is tolerated in discussions concerning cases of rape and sexual assault. It is unacceptable that we live in a society where women fear reporting rap, sexual assault, and gender-based hate crimes...My dissent is part of a national movement with the goal of overcoming rape culture in the United States.”

And what an amazing night it was @fvckrapeculture #grlcvltnyc @holyrad_studio ❤️

A video posted by Ashley (@ashleyhefnawy) on

 

Nora Swidley, a volunteer at the New York event, agreed to share her story in an interview. It was disturbingly similar to the Turner case: Swidler was 19 when she got blackout drunk for the first time in her life. Swidler says she had never experimented with drinking in high school, and rarely after entering college, and the alcohol quickly took effect on her.

“It was at the biggest party of the season basically, it was alumni weekend. I can’t remember anything from when I was dancing to when I came to on the floor of the wheelchair accessible bathroom, facedown planted, with someone inside of me from behind. I started screaming and no one could hear, because the music in the frat was so loud. I was screaming ‘no’ over and over and over again, and I screamed 'stop' and he didn’t stop. Eventually when he finished inside of me he, slapped me on my ass and sent me on my merry way.

“I didn't sleep for four days because it must have been my fault. Because I had gotten so drunk that even though I screamed no, I must have at some point said ‘yes.’ because there’s no way a human being could do that to another human being unless I had at one point said yes. I thought it would never have happened if I hadn’t gotten that drunk. For so long it was my fault that it had happened -- until after a lot of therapy...No person could do this to someone else while they’re screaming no...I wasn’t brave enough to say anything, but somebody else was," she said, referring to the anonymous victim who wrote a powerful letter to the judge during Turner's sentencing hearing, "You gotta support that.”

Swidler’s boyfriend, Ben Mountain, was volunteering by her side. He said he was inspired to come not only for his partner’s sake, but because of his disgust with the “insensitive heteronormative patriarchy” represented by Judge Persky’s decision. Mountain believes it’s the responsibility of men to stop rape, and one of the best ways is through supporting women’s stories and political actions. He says, “I think if all men in the world were allies, we wouldn’t have any rape...I came here thinking I would be one of the only men and I’m glad that’s not true. And I hope the next time this happens [the event] there’s even more.”

About 800 letters were sent from the New York event alone.

well, if nothing else, whoever did THIS has improved my mood this week...#fuckrapeculture

A photo posted by megan burns (@parleamamain) on

 

The night wasn’t all letter writing. There was an atmosphere of celebration and support in the air. DJ Night Doll spun, and three women-fronted bands took the stage. The night featured Edith Pop, It Was Romance headed by Lane Moore, and the trio FEATHERS+EYES.

fighting rape culture one #itwasromance show at a time. #fvckrapeculture #gvrlcvlt #holyradstudio #grlcvlt

A photo posted by Lane Moore (@hellolanemoore) on

 

Drinks were given away for free, though Holwick says that half the bartenders' tips were donated to Professor of Law and Sociology at Stanford University Michele Daubar's campaign to unseat Judge Persky. Dauber skyped in to the event from California to express her outrage at the Turner sentence and to show solidarity with the crowd.

Also skyping in was Jessicka Addams, founder Jack Off Jill, a riot grrrl band that formed in the 90s. She is now the frontwoman for noise pop band Scarling. For the first time, Addams publicly shared the story of her rape, which she never reported.

 

She says she was raped by another musician, and was counseled at the time by a friend to not report it or it might kill her music career. She says that now her friend has a 15-year-old daughter and the advice he gave haunts him. Addams became emotional as she told her story, but she finished on an inspirational note, telling the room of women and men, ”Whatever you set out to do, you’ll accomplish because you have each other. F*ck rape culture.”

Check out more photos from the evening below.

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