Nancy Schwartzman is a courageous filmmaker, speaker and activist fighting to empower women and end sexual violence. Named one of the “10 Filmmakers to Watch in 2011” by Independent Magazine, Nancy’s work explores the intersection of sexuality, new media, and the complexities of modern relationships. She is an inspiration to me as a women’s rights activist, and I’m thrilled Nancy agreed to do a Q&A with sherights.
Read on to learn more about her!
Q: What was your inspiration to create The Line Campaign?
I made “The Line” as a film based off of my own experiences with sexual assault—both the trauma of the experience and the difficulty in getting any kind of justice. Now, the campaign that has built itself around the movie is designed to bring the movie to college campuses and start critical dialogues on consent, sex, sexual and dating violence, and rape that is relevant to their lives—something that empowers young activists to think creatively about how to prevent sexual assault and violence in their communities.
I’m thrilled that my work with The Line Campaign, which involves hundreds of screenings and thousands of conversations with young people about their boundaries, has led to new ways to prevent violence. With a fantastic team, we developed the Circle of 6 app that won the White House Challenge. This App will be ready for download in early February and links you and 6 friends into a circle dedicated to preventing violence before it happens.
Q: As part of The Line Campaign, you ask young people to define their lines of consent. What have been some of your favorite responses?
One of my personal favorite responses was, “I am a sexual being, not a sexual object”—I think that this epitomizes the idea of consensual, positive sexuality while still combating all of the negative and damaging ways that female sexuality is portrayed in the media.
And for fun, someone wrote: “My line is between Burger King and McDonald’s where you’ll be having it your way and I’ll be loving it…”
Q: We’re seeing a lot of victim blaming in the media recently, from coverage of DSK to the NYPD rape cops and beyond. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t limited to the media, but has also permeated healthcare, justice and educational systems. How do we, as individuals, fight back against systemic, institutional victim blaming?
First, we need to not victim blame ourselves, and call out victim blaming when we see it. We need to fight and voice our discontent with rape prevention tactics that place the blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator or the system. It is necessary to educate and criticize media that blames victims, that creates a culture where rape is something that happens to a certain person and not because of a certain kind of person.
Q: If you had to give one piece of advice to sexual assault survivors, what would it be?
Believe in your own truth and trust your gut. You deserve to be heard and believed, and seek help and friends that believe in you.
Q: Who are your feminist role models?
My incredible team of bloggers and interns! They are young, sharp, and industrious dedicated to expanding definitions of feminism, and challenging the status quo at every turn.