50 Shades of No is a new campaign by Jess Langley and Annelise Hickey that addresses perceived grey areas surrounding sexual consent, while educating men on the myriad ways a women can say “no”.
Langley and Hickey (who work for Australian film production company Otto Empire) started an online Facebook group earlier this year, asking women for their reactions to an unwanted sexual encounter. They then narrowed the responses to 50 powerful statements by 50 different women.
Their campaign, launched today, features those phrases on unisex T-shirts.
Specifically, the phrases and strategies were used when the women didn’t feel confident enough to give an outright “no”, and range from the resigned and frustrated (“Pretends to be asleep”) to the downright frightening (“Get out of my hotel room. I’m serious, get off me.”)
“It’s actually not always easy to ‘just say no’. Because of this, people may communicate their discomfort with more passive verbal and non-verbal cues,” Langley says in a statement. “We can violate someone’s boundaries when we don’t pick up on these signals, even if we have no intention to do so. We think there’s an opportunity for all people of all genders to make sure their sexual partners feel safe and comfortable.”
The initiative comes on the heels of months of high-profile sexual harassment and abuse claims in Australia, America and elsewhere, and an emboldened global dialogue around what constitutes unwanted sexual advances and behaviour.
Langley and Hickey also produced a short film to provide another outlet for the voices of the women whose statements appear on the T-shirts.
The 100 per cent cotton tees are available for $35 dollars each, with all proceeds going to international not-for-profit Project Consent. Founded in 2014, the organisation works to fight against attitudes that trivialise or belittle sexual assault while promoting consent as the only option leading to a sexual encounter.