The Noisy Movement: Addressing Consent & Sexual Assault in a Landscape of Silence

The Noisy Movement
Jasleen Pelia-Lutzker and Rosie Rust

 

Inspiration for the Noisy Movement 

In November 2018, the decision made in a court in Cork to acquit a 27-year-old defendant of rape, sparked heated debate and protest, due to the use of the 17-year-old complainant’s underwear as evidence. The defence argued that the young girl’s clothing may have influenced the situation: “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front” (BBC News, 2018). As a result of this, many protesters and public figures across Ireland and the rest of the UK responded on social media, tweeting their underwear, followed by the hashtag – #thisisnotconsent.

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Photos above: Tweets from 2018 displaying support for #ThisIsNotConsent Campaign

It was due to this trial, and the anger and feeling that followed it, that the founder of the Noisy Movement – Niamh McCrossan – felt impassioned to do something. She, along with a small group of friends, began to channel their outrage and anger into something tangible, in which money and awareness could be raised in spite of this example of the oppressive legal system that still clearly exists in British Isles to this day.

 “I can remember lying in bed and couldn’t sleep because I was just so annoyed. I thought about trying to donate as much money as possible in order to help at least one person who was going through a similar situation, maybe someone who was going through the legal system and seeking justice, or just needing support.”

Niamh McCrossan – Founder & Director of The Noisy Movement

They designed merchandise to sell on campus, with the profits going to Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid. Following the popularity of these bags, the movement continued to raise money and awareness, with other projects, events and discussions that were directed at “making noise for those who can’t”, whilst at the same time continuing to raise money, under the campaign name – #ThisIsNotConsent.

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Photos above: Original Noisy Movement merchandise and selling stall on Edinburgh campus

Their focus on raising awareness surrounding issues of consent and sexual assault was a direct result of the injustice that was shown during the Cork rape trial, and upsettingly, was not difficult to discover elsewhere, in facets of university life. Yet, with a strong creative vision and dedicated hard work, they continued to raise funds for charities which worked to better these systems of oppression and violence against both men and women, and continued to make noise on issues that have previously been met with silence. Although the founders of The Noisy Movement have since graduated, the new team is committed to upholding the same activism goals.

Our Current Work

In order to continue our movement in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, we, the new Noisy Movement Team, had to make some large structural changes and think innovatively about our role as activists. The University of Edinburgh where we are based switched to a fully hybrid system in which students could be anywhere in the world during the 2020-2021 academic year. This posed some issues for us as a large part of our work used to be done in person. While we used to sell our products face-to-face and speak to other students at events, we now had to learn how to create and inspire activism from our own homes.

Being the 20-something Uni students that we are, we took to social media! We have run a fun holiday raffle, have been featured on a podcast and the university TV channel, interviewed by other groups and societies, and most recently run a mini-campaign raising awareness for sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week. This campaign has helped us cement our main areas of interest within the #thisisnotconsent campaign:

 1. Pledging activism for #thisisnotconsent 

pledgethis is not consent

To us, pledging to be a part of this movement is more than a promise of activism, but the creation of a community. We are aware of the fact that a movement is not sustainable with individual effort, it’s through the creation of a community that real change is made. This is why we are committed to diversifying our followers.

2. Education 

TNM debunking myths square

The second element we want to include in our activism is education. There are many misconceptions out there about sexual assault and we want to make sure that we are circulating factual knowledge to our community. We are cognizant of our own fallibility and always try to address multiple perspectives when recommending resources.

3. Resources

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Providing resources to our community has always been an important part of our movement. We believe that in order to create a community you need to be able to help take care of one another. We do this by signposting resources for survivors and their loved ones.

4. Continuing to stay informed

Finally, we want to make sure our movement does not become stagnant and so we always share articles surrounding the issue of sexual assault. Remaining topical and flexible as the international landscape of human rights changes is paramount to our movement.

Where We Want To Go 

Looking forward, The Noisy Movement wants to remain relevant and cognisant of the ever-changing landscape of activism.

Our main goal from here is to make our movement more gender-neutral and inclusive of everyone.

Our second campaign – Noise4Boys – was launched to raise awareness around aspects of male mental health that we noted to also be suffering from a similar social silence to the ideas of consent and sexual assault. However, we are aware that this creates a dichotomy of traditionally female and traditionally male campaigns, something that we are keenly aware of, and that we are actively looking to readdress.

We want to make The Noisy Movement a centre of activism for everyone and so we know we will have to continue being flexible in our ever-changing world. 

Our next big project is an Empowerment Series on our blog in which we ask people to share recipes that they have learned from people who empower them. We want this to be a communal space in which anyone, no matter their sex or gender can come to learn about others and feel empowered themselves.

As a movement, we feel invigorated and can’t wait to get to work!


Author’s bios

Jasleen is a third-year philosophy and linguistics student. She is passionate about gender equality and enacting positive change in the field. She enjoys debating tough topics and learning from other people’s perspectives.

Rosie is studying for an MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems, after completing her undergrad at St Andrews. A supporter of the Noisy Movement since its founding, she is so excited to carry on the amazing work that has already been done with Noise4Boys, to remove the stigma surrounding male mental health.

Learn more about The Noisy Movement here: https://thenoisymovement.wixsite.com/noisy

You can also follow The Noisy Movement on Instagram @@the_noisy_movement

Featured image from The Noisy Movement’s Facebook page.

References

BBC News. (2018). Irish outcry over teenager’s underwear used in rape trial. [online]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46207304. [Accessed 22nd February 2021].