063: Say It!

Content Warning: This post contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to some survivors.

"Say It!" featuring Shawna Potter (of War on Women)


Hi folks! Craig from The Art of Survival here.

Today we are doing things a little differently in celebration of a collaboration we can made with the feminist punk/hardcore band, War on Women.

I reached out to the band because I am not only a huge fan of its music, but our values and ethics very much align with those of the members of the band! Katy and I have identified in punk culture for much of our lives and have supported DIY ethics in our work as concert organizers/promoters and even in our work as student affairs professionals.

So we were STOKED when Shawna Potter, lead singer of War on Women, responded and said the band was willing to share our stickers/info during it's upcoming tour with FLAG, which starts today!

With Potter at the lyrical helm, War on Woman shares songs that cover a myriad of social justice topics, ranging from reproductive rights, anti-rape culture, the wage gap, and terrible YouTube comments.

One of the band's most important tracks, "Say It," takes on rape culture and sexual violence. We are sharing, "Say It," as a call-back to our Sexual Assault Awareness Month posts in April.

Take a quick listen, and heed the content warning at the top of the page, because this song references rape very bluntly. All of the people featured in this video are survivors of sexual violence, which makes for a very powerful visual. 

Note: the lyrics are below the video. Then we will continue the piece!

Daddy, Daddy if I was raped would you wanna know where I walked?
Would you wanna know what I wore? 
Would you wanna know who he was? 
What if I was 30 or 12? What if I had one drink?
If the victim is your daughter, does that complicate the blaming? 
We will no longer be silent! Speak up, let your voice be heard
Dissenters drown in a sea of truth and our healing will cover the Earth

Say it! Say it! I was raped

Now that you've watched the video, I'd like to share some comments from Shawna, specifically about her approach to writing "Say It," and why sharing our stories is so important for healing.

"I think a very important part of the healing process is knowing that you are not alone," Shawna said, "that others have been where you are and come out the other side."

On the specific struggles of being a rape survivor, Shawna says, "one thing this kind of violence is able to do is isolate us, which is so dangerous and helps to perpetuate it." Shawna is exactly right, because as we've shared in many of the stories we have shared for this project echo the same sentiment, that being raped and/or assaulted made the survivor feel isolated and alone. But through storytelling, these survivors have found support.

Shawna from War on Women feels this same connection.

"I think hearing people's stories," Shawna said, "you know, they come up to us after we play or send us messages online - they honor us by telling us their story. And I hope we do that for them."

This is beautiful. It reminded me exactly WHY we started this project. It's taking ownership and agency over our trauma, over our perceived victimhood, and instead, turning it into power and survival. 

"You know, they thank us for putting words to a feeling they had," Shawna said, "or just for saying this difficult thing out loud in the first place; it helps folks to hear someone else say 'I was raped,' as it makes it just a little easier for them to talk about their own experience."

Shawna is exactly right again. There is power in our stories.
Especially in sharing stories of sexual violence.
Especially in wake of verdicts like the Brock Turner case.
Especially at a time when many survivors may feel disenfranchised to speak out about their experience. We CANNOT give into that fear. We all must speak up and not be silent about these issues.

There is power in sharing our experiences. We give other people agency to feel comfortable sharing their experiences, so that we can have a community of survival, a community of healing instead of having individuals living in isolation, fear, and anxiety.

We are all in this together.
We will no longer be silent.

You can check out more of the band's incredible tunes here!
And the band hits the road TODAY with FLAG (members of Black Flag) 


About the art:

I wanted to make a badass piece for Shawna and the other folks in War on Women based on "Say It." So I wrote the words, "I was raped," multiple times in the background of the piece, as it is referenced in the song. Then I covered the painting in red paint and bleached the canvas like I usually do.

I splattered some white paint on the canvas to give the piece some dynamism. I used black ink to paint one of my favorite lines from the song. I chose the colors to match the band's album art of its debut self-titled album, which was released by Bridge 9 records, a Massachusetts-based label.

Glad to have made this piece for the band and excited to see them all this Sunday in Cambridge, Mass!

- Craig Bidiman