Founded in 2010 by and for survivors, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is an art and organizing collective that creates actions to disrupt rape culture. Nationally known for producing large-scale public art projects, FORCE believes that a more difficult and honest conversation needs to happen in America in order to face the realities of sexual violence, and create a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent.
FORCE was founded by Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle, and the collective is currently led by Hannah Brancato, E Cadoux, Charnell Covert, Mora Fernández, Shanti Flagg and Maia Owen. A 15-person Leadership Team guide FORCE’s work, currently including: Kate Bishop, Liz Ensz, Alexis Flanagan, Rachel Gilmer, Greg Grey Cloud, Norwood Johnson, Lorena Kourousias, Amber Melvin, Winter Miller, JP Przewoznik, Ella Rogers-Fett, Leigh Ann Sham, Jacob Simpson, Jadelynn Stahl, and Kalima Young.
At FORCE, we believe that rape is a systemic and normalized phenomenon in our culture, and it is used as a tool for building and upholding white supremacy. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.” Our organization’s mission is to foster relationships between survivors, provide support and education, and create spaces where survivors can experience the world we/they deserve. We honor art and expression as invaluable communication tools that make a better world–and value survivors’ stories in all their vast diversity as holding the answers. In fighting rape culture, we must honor the humanity/individuality of every person.
FORCE’s definition of rape culture is a world where we do not have control over our own bodies. In a rape culture, society is surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape, such as jokes, TV programming, music lyrics, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words, and imagery that make sexual violence and coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable.
FORCE organizes regular opportunities for survivors to gather together, with a focus on leadership development. Survivors and other community members participate in FORCE’s work through volunteer opportunities in our Baltimore studio; by attending one of two monthly gatherings for survivors in our studio, which is hosted by our survivor collective, Gather Together; and, prior to the time when we stopped collecting Quilt squares in 2019, by hosting a workshop, Monument Quilt display, or making a Monument Quilt square. The best way to learn about how to get involved is by following us on Facebook or Instagram.
FORCE is most widely known for their viral panty prank, where we pretended to be Victoria’s Secret promoting consent themed slogans on underwear. In 2013, FORCE tricked the internet into believing that Playboy had released an updated anti-rape party school guide dubbed, “The Ultimate Guide to a Consensual Good Time”. They have also received national attention for projecting “RAPE IS RAPE” onto the US Capitol Building and for floating a GIANT poem written by a survivor in the reflecting pool on the national mall.