First of all, please introduce yourselves and how you met and founded No! to Rape Culture:
We are No! to Rape Culture – a group of womxn, femme, and non-binary members of the Portland, Oregon DIY punk, hardcore, and metal subcultures. There are currently about 15 organizers working on content, event planning, etc., another 30 volunteers who are contributing in various ways, and then hundreds of people in the community around us who are engaging in our efforts. The organizers of No! to Rape Culture were all acquaintances and friends throughout Portland’s music communities who have been going to shows together, doing other activist work, and hanging out for the last several years! We came together to found this group in response to myriad accounts of sexual violence happening around us in the scene.
A critical catalyst for the founding of this group was the existence of a complete and utter monster. As most people know, a man named Jim Hesketh had been living in Portland for years, playing in bands throughout the Northwest for nearly two decades. He sang for two hardcore bands, played hundreds of shows, and was a friend to many of us. Earlier this year, he was confronted and publicly called out for preying on young girls in the hardcore scene. As more and more of his history unfolded, it was discovered that his predatory behavior included allegations of nearly 100 counts of sexual coercion, abusive behavior, assault, and forcible rape. While it is obviously unacceptable that this person had been allowed to exist in our communities for 20 years, Jim became a case study for how a well-known member of the hardcore/punk scene could get away with appalling behavior. It was really shocking and eye-opening for all of us who knew Jim that this had gone on for so long, and that he was still an accepted member of the scene. As all of this was revealed over the course of about a week, several of us realized that we needed to do something. A few womxn in Seattle quickly formed the group No Tolerance 4 Rape Culture, and in a matter of days put together a large community meeting to discuss the current state of rape culture within the hardcore scene. The meeting was attended by about 200 people, and was extremely productive – but it really just opened up a conversation, it didn’t necessarily solve any of the root causes. In other words, we all knew that despite our urgent efforts, there was still a lot of work to do.
Upon talking about this situation with several people in the Portland area – some who had attended the No Tolerance community meeting in Seattle and some who hadn’t – it quickly became clear that our city was in desperate need of a group with a similar mission. After spending some time and collaborating with No Tolerance, we decided to create a splinter organization in Portland. We loved the powerful message of womxn, femmes, trans folks, and non-gender conforming members of our communities saying “NO!” to the rape culture that exists around us, so we decided to use this as a spin-off of the Seattle group’s name. While we are doing some similar work, our mission is somewhat different. No! to Rape Culture is focusing heavily on prevention work specifically within the DIY punk, hardcore, and metal scenes in Portland, Oregon. Our full mission statement is this:
No! to Rape Culture is a group of womxn, femmes, transfolks, and gender-non-conforming members of Portland’s DIY subcultures. We are an action-based organization that aims to dismantle the patriarchal structures within the music “scene.” We strive to approach this work through an anti-racist, anti-oppression lens, rejecting the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in which rape culture thrives. By strengthening the connections among people of historically marginalized genders, we intend to cultivate safer spaces, and eliminate abuse and sexual violence in our communities.
What we do:
We educate folx of all genders through literature, workshops, and events.
We offer practical tools for all people to work on dismantling rape culture within their communities.
We focus on systemic change rather than individual call outs.
We can provide references for survivors and allies in need of crisis intervention, support, or other resources related to sexual safety & trauma.
We actively create spaces for female-identified/trans/gender-non-conforming members of DIY subcultures to interact and connect with one another.
We work with other radical & social justice oriented groups to create stronger and more inclusive communities.
We reject toxic masculinity as the “norm” within our subcultures.
What we don’t do:
We are not a crisis line, counseling, or a support group. While we can provide resources when needed, our focus is on prevention rather than reaction.
We do not do individual call outs or provide accountability processes as a group. Members of No! to Rape Culture may engage in these actions at times, but this is not the intention of the group.
We don’t gossip or share others’ experiences without their explicit permission.
We do not welcome law enforcement into our spaces, and we are opposed to the prison industrial complex. However, we will never shame a survivor for seeking legal recourse against a perpetrator.
We will not Google things for you or do all the work for you. Dismantling rape culture provides effort and accountability from everyone.
We do not cater to dominant / normative culture.
What’s your background (bands, projects, veganism, straightedge, feminism, etc.)?
A lot of us have been in the scene for 10, 15, or more years. We’ve done it all – bands, zines, photography, touring, activism, etc. etc. Our experiences are varied, but we are all very active in our communities. Many of us are vegan, some are straightedge, we are all hella feminist, and we all have strong beliefs rooted in radical anti-oppression politics. To be an organizer for No! to Rape Culture, you must want to actively dismantle the patriarchal structures that exist in punk & hardcore, you must always try to view things through an anti-racist, anti-classist lens, and you can be any gender except for cisgender man.
Currently, Danielle plays in a band called Screaming Skull. Stacey plays drums for a band called Longclaw. Anna Vo has a solo noise project, a post-punk band called Rash Deeds, several zines including Fix My Head, and fronts a band called Acracy. Emiko plays drums for Puppy Breath and works with Portland Vegans of Color as well as Social Justice Fund. Tish makes a zine called XGRRRLX and is working on starting a band that focuses on veganism, and anti-colonialism. Emma fronts the band Trust Issues. Jenn plays in Hard Sulks. As you can see, everyone has lots of projects and is super busy and involved in the scenes around us!
Which HC shows did you attend as teenagers and how did that change over the years and why?
The members of No! to Rape Culture come from all over the hardcore/punk/metal spectrum. I think most of us are attracted to fast, heavy, loud music because there are angry, aggressive parts of us that we simply can’t express in the “normal” world outside of punk shows. A lot of us are survivors. A lot of us got into heavy music because of fucked up things that have happened in our lives. With that said though, some of us are more into youth crew / posi core while others listen to mainly beatdown / moshy hardcore. Danielle’s band is dark, fast hardcore, while Stacey’s band is shoe-gazey and ethereal. Anna Vo has a band metal as fuck band as well as an arty post punk project. Jenn’s band is sad femme punk, while Emma’s band has the heaviest breakdowns in the Northwest. I would say that a lot of us have started to actively seek out music that isn’t just your typical het/cis/white dude bands – we are trying to support bands that are femme or queer centric and include people of color, as we all realize that voices from more marginalized groups have not been amplified in our communities nearly enough. We are also working hard to promote shows where people who aren’t white het cis dudes are consistently on the microphone!
Have you ever experienced a “safe space” inside or outside of the music scene, or anywhere else?
Being at shows recently – with a group of badass femmes who are actively working to dismantle rape culture – is the safest most of us have ever felt. While progress on a larger scale will of course take time, it seems as though people are starting to listen to what we’ve been saying for decades – that shows weren’t comfortable and didn’t feel safe for a lot of us. Whether that was because someone in the scene had sexually assaulted us, or because some bro dude was spin-kicking into the crowd with zero regard for anyone else, navigating through these subcultures has been challenging for many of us. A lot of women have said things like, “I stopped going to shows because of the threat of sexual violence,” or even because of the reality of sexual violence, which is horrifying to think about. We hope that as we continue to do more workshops about consent and preventing abuse, and continue to engage with folks about the dynamics of privilege, power, and oppression that exist within our social spheres, our spaces will become safer for folks of all genders.
What are the next steps for the group?
There are several events coming up in Portland! We are working on a series of workshops, and each workshop has a corresponding zine so folks can take the message with them and share it among the people in their lives. Our first consent workshop & zine, “Consent & You: Tools for Healthy Sex,” will be an ongoing conversation at future shows. Next month we are doing a “Pizza Party Against the Patriarchy,” where womxn and non-binary folks can come meet, talk, eat pizza, do some self-care, and build stronger connections among like-minded members of the scene. This event already has hundreds of people RSVP’ed, which is awesome and shows how necessary it is for us to be making these connections. After that, we have a Radical Self Defense workshop planned, which will hopefully give folks of marginalized genders some tools to feel a bit safer and more confident navigating potentially scary situations. We’re also putting together a Feminist Trivia Night fundraiser, a workshop-based camping trip for next summer, a book club that will focus on femme writers of color, and lots more to come!
Lastly, a note on why we use the moth as our logo:
Moths are able to navigate through dark places, and are empowered by the nighttime. This is a time when femmes and gender non-conforming folks have too often been made to feel unsafe. We are working to change that culture and to create safer spaces for all genders.
Moths have the ability to find light in darkness. Similarly, we hope that the work we do will help others find community, safety, strength, and connections in spaces that may have felt uncomfortable in the past.
- Moths are transformational in nature, and are agents of change. Not only do they transform themselves through their own metamorphosis, the also have amazing pollinating capabilities and are able to change their world around them. In this way, we hope to not only change our own behaviors, but also affect change in the communities around us.
- Moths are extraordinarily diverse. There are over 11,000 species of moths in the U.S. Though they are often overlooked, they actually outnumber butterflies 10 to 1 and come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors.
Many moths have “eyes” on their wings as a defense mechanism. Their eyespots deter predators and keep them safe. Similarly, by seeing and acknowledging rape culture within our communities, we hope to deter and eliminate predators within our spaces.
.putting the + in lgbtqia+
.straight edge 1998