The For Colored Girls Project Takes On “Corrective Rape”

18 May

I met when I directed The Vagina Monologues last year. Like many of the amazing women involved in that show, she has continued to involve herself in activism and the arts.

When I heard about The For Colored Girls Project and their photo campaign against in South Africa and Jamaica, I had to know more!

(Corrective rape is a criminal practice, whereby homosexual individuals, both lesbian women and gay men, are raped by persons of the opposite sex, sometimes under supervision by members of their families or local communities, purportedly as a means of “curing” them of their sexual orientation. –Wikipedia)

Interview with Erika Dickerson–

ATM: What is The For Colored Girls Project and how did you get started with your campaign to end corrective rape?

ED: The For Colored Girls Project is a rotating women of color theatre ensemble. Its purpose is to showcase the medley of theatrical, musical, and dance talent of racially and/or ethnically marginalized, women-identified persons. The For Colored Girls Project’s primary objective is to provide women of color the space to respond to the world in their own way, using their own manners, gestures, and approach to language while cultivating and encouraging pro-woman/feminist/womanist attitudes, dialogues, and lifestyles via performance art. Our mission is to explore, analyze, and uncover the often-overlooked intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, and disability through the mixed-medium performance art of women of color.

We work from a very specific methodology that is comprised of the following ideals: Life and the belief that women of color are inherently valuable and necessary, sisterhood, interdependency, and sustainability, unconventional art ensemble cultivation, and lastly, progressive and collective activism and pro woman standpoints.

Photo Credit: Erika Dickerson

While we are a theatre ensemble, all of the work we do deals with the intersection of oppression of women of color. While researching gender relations in South Africa (where I’ll be spending a year beginning July 2011) I chanced upon a new report about corrective rape. I was horrified and alarmed. I immediately brought this news to The For Colored Girls Project’s executive board. We scheduled a photo campaign that day and took the photos the very next day. Additionally, we wrote and recorded audio P.S.A.s in English and Spanish to inform not only our campus and Madison community, but our global community. Activism is a crucial component to the Project, both on an off stage.

Photo Credit: Erika Dickerson

ATM: What actions have you taken so far, and what do you plan for the future?

ED: Thus far we have begun the photo campaign (which is ongoing and open to the public to join) and written and recorded audio PSAs. We would like to record a video P.S.A., widen participation in the photo campaign, and join forces with organizations in Jamaica and South Africa who are combating this gendered criminal practice.

ATM: Why is this issue important to you?

ED:Combating corrective rape is important to The For Colored Girls Project for a number of reasons. Firstly, danger to women anywhere is danger to women everywhere. Furthermore, corrective rape is not only a hate crime, but a gendered hate crime that the government has not yet intervened on behalf of the victims.  Furthermore, the intersection of race, sex, and in most cases class is one that we encounter daily. Corrective rape is just another context we just fight against. Additionally, there are members of the Project who are LGBTQI identified. Also, I’ll be spending a year in South Africa, the leader in corrective rape cases. We make it our mission to combat issues that directly affect the identities and safety of our members.

Photo credit: Erika Dickerson

ATM: What is your take on activism/making a difference on international issues?

ED: It is important to never undermine the ability of other countries to solve their own problems. The For Colored Girls Project, while deeply invested in our campaign against corrective rape, make it our business to be of assistancein international dilemmas and not take over the issues. Teamwork is important. It is important to get involved globally, but do so with caution, respectability, and sensitivity.

Photo credit: Erika Dickerson

ATM: What can we do to help?

ED: Corrective rape is becoming a gendered criminal offense in South Africa and Jamaica. Help us save our sisters. Join The For Colored Girls Photo Campaign against corrective rape and sign the petition! To Sign the Petition, Click Here:

To Listen to The For Colored Girls Project’s audio PSA, visit:

To become a part of The For Colored Girls Project’s Photo Campaign and/or to find out more about the FCG Project’s initiatives, email us at thefcgproject@gmail.com

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