Luminous InterventionLuminous InterventionLuminous InterventionLuminous Intervention

Rape is Rape

Project Date: 
Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: 
Capitol Building
E Capitol St
Washington, DC 20001

“RAPE IS RAPE” projected onto the United States Capitol Building.

[Washington DC] Stories of survivors of sexual violence were projected onto the US capitol building on the eve of the final presidential debate. The text tells the experience of survivors, which in a national conversation about the politics of rape, have eerily been left out.

Between the stories, the words RAPE IS RAPE were projected. The demonstration was carried off by the feminist team FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture and the activist collective Luminous Intervention.

Women are twice as likely to be raped in their lifetime than to develop breast cancer. Only 14% of all rape fits lawmakers Ryan, Akins and Rivard’s narrow vision of “forcible rape”. The stories projected onto the capitol building last night are from the other 86% of people who have been raped.

“As a young girl I was raped by a group of teenage boys. They put money on the bed afterward. I was convinced it was my fault”

“My boyfriend kept trying to have sex with me.  I kept saying no. He stopped after I started crying.  I was 15. I remember apologizing later for crying. “

“I was drugged and raped by a man I met while traveling in Greece. He offered to show me around and then put sleeping pills in my food.  It was broad daylight. Since my rape was not “violent”, the Greek courts did not charge my rapist”

“I can’t even count the number of time I have had sex against my will. Some of the times I was pressured and other times I was drunk. I’ve never been able to call these situations rape”

“I don’t remember the details of what happened. I pick up clues from the seemingly random things in sex that paralyze me with fear.”


FORCE strongly believes that American culture is uncomfortable to the point of being incapable of recognizing the reality of rape in this country. The organizers believe that the culture of rape will not improve until a more difficult conversation is had.

The organizers of this action say, “The origins of “legitimate rape” or “women who rape easy” are deeper than anti-abortion legislation, conservative views, or a few politically incorrect statements.  The problems in the public conversations about rape are bigger than election year politics.  The image of forcible rape is the only publicly recognized image of sexual violence in America, and it is not realistic.  Rapists do not only use physical violence.  Rape is not only committed by a few sick criminals.  Rape is not a rare occurrence.  Rape is much more complicated and much more common.  If sexual violence is going to end, Americans need to drop the story of “forcible rape” and face reality.  These stories are here to force the issue.”

Photos by Casey McKeel

In the Media

Below is media coverage of this project. If we've missed something, or for media inquiries, please contact us.

"Still want to fight a war on women?" Salon Wed, November 07, 2012 http://www.salon.com/2012/11/07/a_womans_place/
"What Does Paula Ryan Think? Castration is a Gift From God" Reproductive Health Reality Check Wed, October 24, 2012 http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/10/22/paula-ryan-rape-index-castration-and-pregnancy
"Ending Rape Illiteracy" The Nation Tue, October 23, 2012 http://www.thenation.com/blog/170767/ending-rape-illiteracy
"Rape is Rape: An Action to Upset Rape Culture" Indy Reader Mon, October 22, 2012 http://indyreader.org/content/rape-rape-action-upset-rape-culture
"Activists Project “Rape Is Rape” onto US Capitol Sunday" Feminist.org Mon, October 22, 2012 http://feminist.org/blog/index.php/2012/10/22/activists-project-rape-is-rape-onto-us-capitol-sunday/

Connect With Us

For general inquiries: Please contact us using our contact form


For artists and activists looking to collaborate: We have an open call for collaborators - please review the details and fill out the linked form in order to propose a site-specific video or animation works to be projected on a Baltimore building or other outdoor surface.


(you will be directed to the mailchimp site to complete sign-up)


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In the Media

See below for media coverage of Luminous Intervention, or view our full catalog of media coverage. If we've missed something, or for media inquiries, please contact us.

"Homeless Advocates Protest With Empty Coffin Outside State of the District" Washington City Paper Mon, March 24, 2014
"Johns Hopkins Drone Research Sparks Call for Discussion" Indy Reader Mon, March 04, 2013
"Ending Rape Illiteracy" The Nation Tue, October 23, 2012
"Occupy anniversary to be marked with downtown art installation" Baltimore Sun Mon, September 17, 2012
"Outdoor Projections Light Up the West Side" Baltimore City Paper Thu, May 17, 2012