Founded in 2010 by and for survivors, FORCE was an art and activist collective dedicated to constructing a culture of consent, widely known for creating public art to disrupt rape culture. FORCE was an intersectional, LGBTQ focused, multicultural, pro-black and anti-white supremacist collective, who did their deepest organizing work in Baltimore and Mexico City, and planted seeds globally. We strived for our visual imagery, language, resources, and organizing strategies to have a local and global impact in their efforts to end sexual and intimate partner violence by changing social attitudes and connecting these shifts to policy change.
FORCE is best known for blanketing the National Mall on June 2019 with the Monument Quilt, a collection of over 3,000 stories by survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence and our allies, written, painted, and stitched onto red fabric. Our stories literally blanket highly public, outdoor places to create and demand space to heal, and resist a singular narrative about sexual violence. Over the 6 years that the project was organized, we received coverage national coverage including CNN, MSNBC and Refinery 29. The culminating display was covered by Ms Magazine, the Marshall Project, Washington Post, and Voice of America.
In 2019, FORCE we started to focus our efforts on the development of direct unique services programs for PTSD and trauma survivors, advocacy and youth leadership. However, FORCE experienced numerous financial setbacks after the Monument Quilt Culminating Display in June 2019, primarily due to the unsupportive fiscal hosting environment in Baltimore that we and many other grassroots projects are still experiencing. Lack of support and transparency in the fiscal hosting sphere was a growing problem for FORCE for years. Then, the COVID-19 crisis hit, affecting our fundraising strategy. We also experienced internal lack of support and issues of racism in those meant to be FORCE’s most trusted guides and visionaries. These issues, building over the years, were handled with grace by those within FORCE who prioritized supporting survivors and victims of racism and abuse, who put themselves second to try to build something greater from moments of pain and conflict. We built FORCE into the unique, powerful, and beautiful collective. And in 2021, we decided it was time for FORCE’s role to change. The cumulative effect of an unsupportive environment left FORCE in a position where for the health of FORCE’s Collective and to best serve the community, we ceased FORCE’s active programming.
FORCE’s focus going forward will be on the archiving of the Monument Quilt, their collection of 3000 quilted stories sewn into 750 8’x8′ blocks from survivors of sexual and domestic violence from around the world. FORCE seek to find a home for every single piece of the Monument Quilt, spreading its expressive power around the world.
Do you want to be a part of archiving the Monument Quilt? Reach out to us!
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.