Silence is Broken: Manifesto

Silence is Broken

We are legion. Legion who have experienced, word for word, dramatic situations close to those described in the investigation published in the Dutch newspaper NRC on October 30,2020.*

You knew, you knew but you stayed quiet.
Whatever his name was, you knew.
Let this be an earthquake.

What does it mean to report sexist or sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence to the institutions that have failed us in the first place? What does it mean to report to the police, with the current Dutch legislation on rape, with rape kits or shelters barely available? What does it mean to get an abortion because we were raped, without a buddy to protect us from the harassment of religious zealots, while walking to the hospital door? —Even in this violence, there are privileges. Did it crush our soul to realize the police won’t investigate, or was it when the lawyer stated there’s no chance to win in court, due to a lack of material evidences? To be resigned to the fact that the law is not justice and justice will never be done? And anyway, were do we find that kind of money to go to court. And anyway, there is no justice possible for rape. And anyway, how to acknowledge that the horror he put us through is, in fact, a crime? That he will walk free?

Can you then fathom the violence when you see art institutions and academies repeatedly opening their doors, their exhibitions, their collections, their pages, their classrooms, their awards, their juries, relentlessly celebrating his work, while silencing the victims’ voices repeatedly?
You knew, you knew but you stayed quiet.

You kept liking his posts, showing, buying and publishing his work, clapping hands in the media to this ‘enfant terrible’, this ‘provocateur’, this ‘difficult but talented genius’. You refused to engage when we asked for anonymity, our only protection left. Accountability means to commit, to listen, to engage. You pressure us to say his name, but It’s encrypted. The code to make it public is your provision for legal fees, with the money you made on his career, while we were rebuilding ourself. Reparative justice [google it], see we’re progressing. So dear institutions, in your public statement, don’t pretend you didn’t know, because that’s silencing us one more time. Don’t call it ‘crossing borders’ instead of rape, because that is negating what we lived through.
We died under the blows. We didn’t die.

Maybe we survived, maybe. Maybe we spent time in hospitals. Maybe. How did we live another day? How did we live another day with haunting memories and all the sequels? Time and time again, digging into our multiple traumas with the hope that, for once, speaking up will have an impact? Your violence infiltrated our art and we let it happened, until we didn’t.

And while you were holding on to your institutions and your testicles, while your narrations collapsed, we taught ourself to speak, to sing and dance. Your blows, your fires and bullets are real, and so are our joy, softness and love. We weaponize our rage in our art to set ourselves free. Ours words became healing, solidarities and communities. Our traumas are nobody’s medals.
We died. We didn’t die. We’re becoming. Silence is broken. We are Legion.
#silenceisbroken #wearelegion #metoo #notsurprised

Delphine Bedel
Amsterdam, November 1st, 2020

* Here the NRC investigation by Lucette ter Borg & Carola Houtenkamer  (in Dutch, but it works with Google translate)



MORES: Reporting point for undesirable behaviour, performing arts, television and film sectors, art education and museums

Engagement : an artist-led movement tackling sexual harassment, sexism and abuse of power in the Belgian arts field.

The Roadmap to Equality in the Arts in the Netherlands

Equality Roadmap 2019-2022 in France

ANDEA in France

Soup du Jour in Germany

Victim Support in UK

Fast Forward Manifesto to join

If you know other organisations in your country, which we can add to this list, please email them to us with email subject ‘Silence is Broken Manifesto’.