Two Minutes Too Many: Support STSM at Conundrum Music Hall Tonight By Haley Sprankle


One in six.

One in six women are estimated victims of rape.

One in 33 men are estimated victims of rape.

Every two minutes someone is victimized by sexual assault.

These crimes are often perpetrated by non-strangers (73%), friends (38%), intimate partners (28%), and even family members (7%), yet sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in America.

These statistics are often thrown around in the media through television, movies, and articles, desensitizing the world to the immediate and residual atrocities the actual people that form these statistics face. Through this, people forget the reality of it and they forget how to end rape culture and help their friends in need.

Luckily, Sexual Trauma Services for the Midlands (STSM) is here to help educated and aid victims, their loved ones, and those seeking to prevent such horrid crimes in their communities.

“STSM has done a great job of making their presence felt in the community, raising awareness about sexual assault, and letting people know that they are there to help,” Jeremy Joseph of Raiser Productions states. “For example, events such as their annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes have been a huge success.  But, what's most important is the services they provide to those in need in our area.”

This evening, Joseph organized a benefit concert at Conundrum for STSM featuring Prairie Willows, She Returns from War, and Pedro LDV. Joseph sees each of these distinct acts as music that “people will enjoy” that will “serve as a force for good.”

The arts have historically been shown as a power to raise awareness for issues, promote change in surrounding communities as well as throughout the nation, and induce a sense of healing. Joseph seeks to do just this through the concert.

“Artists can use the power of their platform to speak out against sexual assault, generate awareness and support for STSM, and bring together a supportive group of people to positively change our culture and stand with survivors,” Joseph adds.

Tonight’s benefit is one you won’t want to miss, but if you can’t make it you can still donate to the cause at Different donation amounts allow you to either, assist on survivor at a hospital, train community members to prevent child sexual abuse, educate students in a six-week violence prevention program, or provide six months of counseling, legal advocacy, and crisis intervention to one survivor.

“I hope that as many people as possible will be there Saturday night,” Joseph ends with. “Just by coming out for an evening of some of the best music around you can help make the world a better place through supporting the extremely important work of STSM.”

Doors open at 8 tonight, the show starts at 9, and tickets are only $8, so don’t miss your chance to help make every two minutes in America safer for everyone and support local musicians!

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Imagine If: Envisioning a World Without Violence by Alexis Stratton

"A few years ago, when I was volunteering at Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), one of their staff members asked if I could write something for them about what a world without sexual violence would look like. I was immediately drawn to this idea for a couple reasons. First, I was in the MFA in Creating Writing Program at USC, and I loved any excuse to write something new. Second, as a survivor of child sexual abuse, I'd often wondered how things would've been different for me if the abuse had never happened. ..." - Alexis Stratton For the full column and accompanying poem, click through the photo below:

Stratton Column

Arts and Activism: Changing the Culture of Rape -- a guest editorial by Alexis Stratton

alexis blog rapeculture From my work as co-director of The Vagina Monologues to my time spent with fellow writers and artists, I’ve gotten into a lot of discussions about the arts, media, and representation. Many of these discussions follow the same patterns:

Art is meant to provoke thought and discussion. We can’t govern the imagination.

People just write what they know. He’s a white guy writing about his experiences—he’s not purposely excluding people of different colors/genders/etc.

Sure, all of these characters are based on stereotypes, but at least this film gets people talking about sexual violence/gender stereotypes/race/etc.

As a writer, I have to admit that there is something to be said for some of these arguments. Many of the characters I create are representations of the various facets of my own identity, and while I try to step out of the boxes of my experience and imagine someone else’s, doing so is often a perilous adventure. What if I misrepresent this community? Do I really have the right to write what I don’t know but have only imagined, researched, and tried my best to represent?

Yet, as an artist who is also an activist and a feminist, I think that questions of art and representation must be constantly considered and go beyond my individual experiences as an artist.

As the Prevention Education Coordinator at Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, I am invited into schools and community groups to teach our six-session Youth Violence Prevention Program. The first lesson that I facilitate is about gender stereotypes and the normalization of sexual harm. In that lesson, we look at the pervasive ways in which the media perpetuates gender stereotypes and also, in the end, promotes rape culture and makes sexual violence “normal.” Think of these Dolce and Gabbana and Calvin Klein ads, or this Rick Ross song, or any movie in which rape or abuse is eroticized (something that’s often hard to avoid on film).

alexis blog dolcegabbana03-gang-rape-ad

One might try to argue that “The Arts” rise above this fray of marketing and populism. But it doesn’t, and I’m reminded time and time again that it doesn’t. From perpetuating the myth that “no really means yes” to supporting gender stereotypes (i.e., equating masculinity with violence/dominance or upholding the madonna/whore binary) to pigeonholing female characters/subjects as nothing more than romantic interests, “The Arts” are not immune to these issues of misrepresentation and the promotion of rape culture.

When I bring this up, though, my friends and colleagues often ask me, “Why throw the baby out with the bathwater? Isn’t it enough that this work has this great character of color/Trans* person/ Strong Female Character/etc.?” And my answer is that it’s not. Yes, art is art, art provokes, and I will not control another artist’s work. I may even praise artists’ use of X, Y, or Z, but that won’t stop me from challenging them to reconsider their (mis)representations of race, class, gender, etc. I won’t stand idly by while those works promote the rape culture I work to dismantle on a daily basis.

The film Miss Representation makes it clear that the socio-cultural and economic powers that be will make it difficult to create and distribute art/media that represents the voices of populations that are sidelined by those who dominate such industries. I cannot stop Robin Thicke from telling women what they want and objectifying the female body. I cannot get Adam Levine’s label to decry the intimate partner violence in the music video for “Misery.” I probably can’t even convince the beloved (and self-proclaimed feminist) Joss Whedon that just because The Avengers’ Black Widow is a Strong Female Character doesn’t mean she isn’t still overly sexualized. (Even for those who cheer on Whedon’s female characters, The Avengers still fails the infamous Bechdel Test.)

Robin Thicke - "Blurred Lines" video still

But as educators and artists, we have a choice. As an educator, I can teach others to be critical readers, viewers, and thinkers, celebrating the successes of art and media while also being willing to voice what is problematic about certain works. And I can encourage others to create works that speak out against privilege and that recognize both rape culture and inequalities that occur in the arts and media.

As an artist, I can create art that tells a different story—one that resists stereotypes, creates space for different voices, fights rape culture, and talks back to the racist, classist, sexist, ableist, heterosexist messages we receive day-in, day-out. I can create art that doesn’t think rape is a joke and perhaps instead calls out injustices and maybe even reflects the realities of the violence that many women face. I will make mistakes, but I can listen when those mistakes come to my attention. I can be self-reflexive, enter into conversation, and recognize where my own privilege creates blind spots.

alexis blog boston museum

alexis blog avengers1In Miss Representation, Katie Couric says that the media (and I’ll add the arts to it, too) “can be an instrument of change: It can maintain the status quo and reflect the views of the society or it can, hopefully, awaken people and change minds. I think it depends on who’s piloting the plane.” I challenge you to pilot that plane, creating art that resists rape culture—and changing that culture in the process.

alexis blog sexual trauma services


Alexis Stratton is the Prevention Education Coordinator at Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, a Columbia-based organization that supports survivors of sexual violence and educates the community to identify and prevent sexual violence. As a graduate of the University of South Carolina’s MFA in Creative Writing Program and Women’s and Gender Studies Program, she has spent years working in the Columbia community (and beyond) to raise awareness about issues of gender-based violence and to empower community members to change the world around them.


V-Day Speak Out -- Listen to the Vaginas

Alexis Stratton, friend of Jasper and essayist in the most recent issue of the magazine (Jasper Watches: An Essay -- Reclaiming Vaginas) shared some info with us about an upcoming event that we think is pretty important. (Jasper adores the confluence of art and politics!) Rather than prattle on about it, we'll let Alexis do the talking:

Come enjoy a night of music, readings, storytelling, and speaking out at V-Day's open mic night at Conundrum Music Hall (626 Meeting St., West Columbia)!

All artists, writers, musicians, and other community members will be invited to take the stage at "V-Day Speak Out: Break the Silence, End the Violence" on Thurs., Feb. 7. We welcome everyone who has a song to sing/play, some spoken word to deliver, a story to share, or anything else you'd like--the sky's the limit! Doors open (and sign ups start) at 7:00, open mic begins at 8:00!

We're hosting this event in support of raising awareness of sexual and domestic violence, so we especially invite artistic expressions that respond to those issues. However, you're welcome to respond to those themes creatively, using them as a launching point or a place to start brainstorming.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands ( Tickets for The Vagina Monologues will also be on sale. Find out more on our Facebook event page!

We hope you'll join us for an empowering, healing evening of speaking out, fighting back, celebrating the arts, and building community!