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Feminspire | April 17, 2014

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Viral Video Calls For Women To Speak Up And Claim Their Bodies

Viral Video Calls For Women To Speak Up And Claim Their Bodies

Sandra Fluke is called a slut for speaking up for the use of contraception. Military rape survivors are deemed crazy for reporting assault to their superiors. The majority of testimonials given at Congressional hearings on religion and birth control last April were from men to a panel of male religious leaders.

These attacks on women have frustrated a New York University graduate student to action. Jason Stefaniak was frustrated for his mother, his grandmother and his aunts. He was frustrated for his 10-year-old sister, for his long-term girlfriend and for all the women he’d grown up with or with whom he’d grown close.

“I realized, why haven’t so many other men spoken up on these issues before?” Stefaniak says in an exclusive interview. “We need to show our support for women who are fighting these issues.”

So Stefaniak began working with other New York filmmakers and actors, and the “This Is My Body” campaign was started.

The “This Is My Body” video was released on Vimeo on July 23rd, and has been viewed more than 100,000 times in more than 100 countries. The five-minute film is simple: ten actresses stand against a plain gray background and read the lines of a series of monologues.

This is my body.
I do what I want with it.
This is my body.
I make my own choices.
This is my body.

Siobahn O’Loughlin, a fellow graduate of Stefaniak’s alma mater at Towson University, worked with him on a script that would be inclusive of as many issues, races, and sexual and gender identities as possible.

“I didn’t want to be a guy coming in and orchestrating a project, pretending to speak for women,” Stefaniak says.

According to O’Loughlin, men are welcome and needed as supporters of the feminist movement. “This is a fight that requires the female voice, but it is essential that people of any gender — male, female, trans — have our backs,” she says.

O’Loughlin also reads the last monologue in the film:

“It is time for you to accept that I am fully aware, capable, and accountable for myself. I don’t need a hero or saving, because I’m not in distress. I’m not defined by my need of a man or partner, but I have the right to be made happy by one, in a safe and supportive relationship.”

The script resonated with a huge number of women, who chose to rerecord all or part of the “This Is My Body” monologues in their own voices, or respond to the video in their own words. Stefaniak says that video commenters have claimed that “This Is My Body” gave them a voice for what they’ve wanted to say, but didn’t know how to.

“The impact of video is greater than we could have imagined,” says Stefaniak. “Of course, there are plenty of nasty comments, as you can expect on Internet. But it’s been really great to see women put themselves out there, put face on the cause, and not be afraid to stand up for issue.”

Stefaniak’s new goal for the campaign is to garner media attention. The project has already been featured on The Huffington Post, Care2, and has helped inspire a spin-off campaign called “This Is My Canadian Body.” While “This Is My Body” was born online, O’Loughlin believes the work left for the feminist movement is in the streets.

The final line of “This Is My Body” declares, “Do not be afraid of a world in which women know themselves, their voice, and their power. That world has arrived.”

But in order to live in that world, O’Loughlin says that feminists and their supporters need to volunteer with and donate to women’s rights organizations, and exercise their voting rights to vote with their conscience.

“I believe that we have a world to win, where men and women are equals, and where rich legislators have absolutely no business stomping on anyone’s rights because they are insecure and afraid of anyone else’s voice,” O’Loughlin says.

You can learn more about “This Is My Body” on their Facebook page, and watch the video here:

This is a message that Feminspire truly believes in and is proud to share. What do you think of the “This Is My Body” movement? Leave your comments below.

Written by Lauren Slavin