Walking through Washington Square Park in New York's West Village, the pavement your feet step over may look a bit more colorful. As summer begins, the park is packed with NYU students, street performers, families and more. Commonly, the park is full of chalk drawings as the weather warms up; it is easy to walk over these and maybe take a passing glance, but a new series of drawings stand out among the people and trees. The chalk art is bold and colorful, but that is not what makes it different from the rest—it has a message.
The bold, stunning chalk drawings are done by Amber Amour, the founder of the campaign "#StopRapeEducate." Her campaign's purpose is to "to end sexual violence against women, men, and children by teaching the public about rape culture, consent, and healthy boundaries," according to #StopRapeEducate's website. The messages are simple, eye-catching, and most importantly, powerful. Some of them are messages to survivors, like "be strong," "it wasn’t your fault," and "you are free." These short messages acknowledge that rape has become an epidemic, and it is likely that many survivors pass through the park on a daily basis. These artistic messages short support for all survivors, and demand that all passers through the park should do the same.
Other messages are directed towards the public or are accounts of attacks. The former has messages like, "rape jokes aren’t funny," "rape is not a women's issue, it's a human issue," and "we live in a society that teaches us not to get raped instead of don't rape," which comments on the nature of rape culture. While many of these messages may seem obvious to a lot of people, it is not to many, and that is what makes this campaign so important. It is time for survivors to stop being ashamed, for survivors to be unequivocally supported, for rape culture to end, and for the world to acknowledge that rape is a problem that hurts everyone—not just women.
#StopRapeEducate's hashtag is well thought out, as education is one of the most effective strategies to end rape culture. The solution is to educate young men to respect women and their decisions, because rape is nothing natural—it is created by a sexist, hyper-masculine society that demeans girls and shames boys into being aggressive.
#StopRapeEducate has a list of education methods on the website, which I encourage everyone to check out: http://www.stoprapeeducate.org. Also, be on the look out the next time you're walking through Washington Square, and take the time to read Amber's powerful message.
Nikki Camera is currently a freshman in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University. She plans to major in English and minor in creative writing. Along with writing, she is a passionate activist and considers herself a revolutionary. She is a member of the International Socialist Organization, which works to combat issues like racism, sexism, inequality, climate change, and more. She has always been a proud feminist. She has volunteered for Planned Parenthood, Breakthrough Collaborative, the SPCA, various environmental organizations, and more. She is currently volunteering for Peer Health Exchange. She is a dog lover and has an adorable Yorkie named Sparky at her home in Connecticut.