So what’s a socially conscious individual to do? If you’re self-described “female secret society” GRLCVLT, you invite everyone to an open-bar blowout at Holyrad Studio in East Williamsburg, featuring live performances by local act Edith Pop and comedian Lane Moore’s band It Was Romance. Throw in a letter-writing campaign to unseat Judge Aaron Persky, and it sounds like your typical Wednesday night, right?
Remy Holwick, the founder of the New York chapter of GRLCVLT, said she came up with the June 15 event, eloquently entitled “Fuck Rape Culture,” after witnessing a great deal of “armchair activism” on Facebook and in person. “Rape culture has to end, that’s the number one unequivocal message of this event,” she said. “And there are ways to effect change in politics that money just can’t buy.”
For Holwick, the fact that the event is completely free is an important aspect of the inclusiveness and universality of GRLCVLT’s message, which has a membership of 2,800 in New York City. “Everything was donated,” she said. “Holyrad donated their space, we have a photo booth donation, multiple photographers donating their time, bands donating their time, volunteers working overtime – it’s just been an incredible response.”
At Holyrad, GRLCVLT will be providing “printed supplies and stamped, addressed envelopes for any interested person to fill out in order to unseat Judge Aaron Persky.” The form provided will be the same one that’s available on the Change.org petition, Holwick said.
Holwick, who formed the New York chapter of GRLCVLT in October of 2014, said there have already been 1,000 RSVPs on Facebook for what she expects will be a proper party. As with any proper party, there will be free drinks, courtesy of Industry City Distillery. If that venue sounds familiar, it might be because it’s the one where Good English was scheduled to play as part of Northside Festival before it came to light that the band’s drummer, Leslie Rasmussen, had written a letter to Judge Persky in which she defended her friend Brock Turner’s character and lamented the need to be “politically correct every second of the day.”
On June 7, Northside Festival dropped the band from its lineup and Industry City chimed in that it had “zero tolerance of the act or or the justifying of the act.” Later that day, Rasmussen released a statement in which she once again referred to the detrimental effect of drinking culture. “I believe that Brock’s character was seriously affected by the alcohol he consumed,” she wrote, “and I felt that the court needed to consider this issue during their sentencing deliberations.”
She insisted that her character statement on Brock’s behalf “has now provided an opportunity for people to misconstrue my ideas into a distortion that suggests I sympathize with sex offenses and those who commit them or that I blame the victim involved. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I apologize for anything my statement has done to suggest that I don’t feel enormous sympathy for the victim and her suffering.”
Nonetheless, she insisted that the true culprit continues to be the excessive drinking culture in U.S., stating that “there is nothing more sad than the unnecessary, destructive and enormous toll that overuse, misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs play in people’s lives, and I don’t think my effort to point this out in confidence to a judge while commenting on Brock Turner’s character, as the sober person I knew him to be, was an irresponsible or reckless decision.”
Holwick, on her part, is “thrilled” by Industry City Distillery’s stand against against what she describes as deeply engrained rape culture. “[Industry City Distillery] turned around and donated a lot of their products to us at a loss,” she marveled. “They did it to make a statement, to say: ‘This is the way business should behave and this is how our society should be.'”
As for keeping abreast of any future events GRLCVLT will be organizing, Holwick said: “You’ll just know. When we decide to do something, we get heard.” She continued that GRLCVLT’s diversity and their overall message of intersectional feminism and promoting community amongst women allows them to be be fluid and flexible with their events. “We’re fortunate, because GRLCVLT is a diverse cross-section of women from all walks of life,” she said. “This is the first time we’re seeing what the full force of our girls working in unison is like, and its been massive.”