On Oct. 9th, members and allies of the FuckRapeCulture group gathered at the bottom of Jeff Hill for the third annual FRC Homecoming rally. Supporters carried signs and chanted in unison. Their voices echoed off the bricks, demanding the attention of those who looked on.
Students, alumni and Athens residents all marched in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. The FRC movement use rallies such as this one to raise awareness about the issue of rape and sexual assault on campus and to help empower survivors.
Officers of the Athens Police Department blocked off Mill and Court Street to make way for the march. In doing this, they created a safe space where participants of the rally could freely express themselves. Members of the FRC movement specifically choose this path for the annual march.
“The significance of the route is that we are occupying and traversing through historically unsafe places for women and marginalized populations, Mill street obviously famous for it’s fests and massive amounts of partying, and Court Street, the stretch of bars on campus,” said Claire Seid, a senior studying sociology who helped plan the FRC march. “We are occupying these places as a symbolic act of resistance against the patriarchy.”
Madhu Pesala, a sophomore studying journalism, said that there is a lot of reasoning behind holding the march on homecoming weekend.
“This campus has a really bad problem with sexual assault and rape culture,” said Pesala. “On homecoming weekend, you have a lot of alumni who aren’t trying to remember OU as a place that’s unsafe for women and men and all people.”
Hannah Koerner, a senior studying English and leader of the FRC march also commented on the importance of having the rally this past weekend. “It’s really important to disrupt that kind of celebration and say that there are still problems on our campus and that we need to address those before we can be proud to address ourselves as a community,” said Koerner.
Koerner also spoke about the OU Survivor Advocacy Program and the Survivor Advocacy Outreach program. She said that funding from the administration has dwindled, but they are still key supporters of survivors of sexual assault here on campus.
Members of FuckRapeCulture stress the fact that solidarity is key in the fight against rape culture.
“It’s important to not only have survivors here, but also people supporting them and as many as possible so they know that we’re here and we’re visible and we recognize that there’s a problem and we’re willing to do anything we can to help survivors of sexual assault,” said Lydia Seiter, a sophomore studying engineering.
After the group of around 100 people marched down Court Street, they reconvened on College Green. Members and allies who spoke addressed the group from the steps of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument,, speaking about their own experiences in rape culture or addressing the issue of rape and sexual assault on campus as a whole.
Prince Shakur, an OU graduate, took the opportunity to talk about gender roles in our society and about the importance of speaking out against the issues at hand. He also commented on the outcome and the success of the rally this year.
“Having a radical demonstration where people are going into the streets with or without clothes on and yelling ‘fuck rape culture,’ I think that creates a space—a space that’s usually dominated by men of patriarchy and privilege. You cut through that, and you try to empower people so they know that their voices can be heard. I think it’s beautiful,” said Shakur.