I recently had the wonderful opportunity to be introduced to the #RedMyLips campaign by a friend, colleague and a truly inspirational woman, Celetia Reinders. She is also one of my fellow Book Club members and we all read a book called Vlees en Bloed. In this book one of the very important topics being discussed is that of sexual violence. Reading about this topic made me even more aware of the issues a lot of women (and men) face regarding sexual violence and I asked Celetia to tell me a bit more about the aims and goals of the #RedMyLips campaign. Immediately she sent me the link to their website and other social media accounts that will help me to get a better idea of what this campaign is about. She also agreed on an interview and after receiving her thorough answers she captured the idea of the movement and her own involvement to such an extent that the reader will get a clear idea on what #RedMyLips is all about.
Here follows the Q & A with Celetia Reinders:
- Where did you first hear about the #RedMyLips campaign?
In March 2015 I was browsing through Facebook for interesting causes or events to take part in. I came across the #RedMyLips campaign and was extremely fascinated by the motion of “visibility, not vanity” and the use of red lipstick as a weapon to combat myths regarding sexual assault.
- Why did you want to get involved in such a campaign?
One of my favourite quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. is the following:
“Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter”. I decided to get involved in this campaign because the topic is truly something that matters.
I attended an all-girls’ school and grew up in a home with two sisters and parents who taught us about good values and respect for our bodies. As I became older, I realized that even though many of my friends (or victims) grew up with the same values which once again confirms and proves the following statement: “A person is NEVER asking to be raped- no matter the situation, what or how much make-up they were wearing, etc.”.
While sexual assault is a topic that is usually seen as “taboo” or not frequently discussed, I feel that it is very important to raise awareness, even if just by wearing red lipstick and starting important conversations on the topic.
Education is a cause I feel strongly about, and these conversations tend to educate and inform people with opinions on victims. People frequently believe that the victims “were asking for it” or “deserved it”- but the truth is, no means no and each person has the right to speak out, but is not always brave enough.
- Do people ask you about your red lips during April?
People comment on my red lipstick rather than ask about it- and then I tell them more about the campaign which usually leads to conversation regarding the victim-blaming and other myths. Another myth is that sexual assault is a gender issue. While women are the victims in most cases, this is not entirely the case. Sexual assault is a human issue and affects us all. According to redmylips.org, 1 in 6 boys experience sexual abuse before the age of 18. The statistics of the website further state that 1 in every 33 men will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.
The questions I receive are usually more of a “are you going on a date?” or a “what are you dressed up for?” type of question, which adds on to the motion: “what I wear does not indicate consent”. This is another myth- because a victim is never asking to be raped and consent should still be given, whether a person goes out in a mini skirt or cargo pants.
- How are you contributing to create awareness about sexual violence and victim-blaming besides wearing red lipstick?
By the use of social media and the sharing of photos, articles and events, people tend to become interested and participate in the movement themselves. A few of my friends have joined the campaign after seeing my photos – examples are Arisca Heystek in 2015, Nicole Kingwill and Charné Wilken in 2016 and Anje de Wet in 2017. These people have other friends and acquaintances who might now also be inspired and read up on the topic or even join the movement.
Furthermore, I frequently read up on the issue so that I can inform and educate people when the topic comes forth. I would love to speak at schools or even incorporate this important issue in my future as teacher, counselor or educational psychologist.
- You can choose not to answer this question:
Are you or do you know anyone who has been a victim of sexual violence?
I am lucky enough to not be a victim myself, but do know of a few people and close friends who are. In 2016 I completed my B.Ed honours degree in Educational Psychology, and as a part of our practical hours for the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), we had to register as student counsellors where we provided counselling at schools and hospitals. Although our lecturers did not prefer for us to work with victims of sexual assault, we learnt about the topic in our theory classes and may be able to work with these people in the future. As a future counsellor, it’s important to be informed about any topic which can have an impact on a person’s psychological well-being.
I have also attended events held by the iDUC project which is based on the touching story of Santi Britz who used her pain from a rape trauma to touch the lives of many (read more on www.iDuc.co.za). I was introduced to this project by Leané Kotzé, Miss Campus South-Africa 2016, who contributed her and Orgo Rautenbach’s (Mr Campus 2015) Halewood prize money to this worthy project. The iDuc project started the “DuckAround “shuttle services in Potchefstroom in January 2017, which allows students to safely arrive at their destinations being transported by these pink cars.
The #RedMyLips campaign is for anyone, whether you have been a victim or not. The wearing of red lipstick also shows support and solidarity to the survivors or victims. I can only imagine the love and support one would feel when searching the hashtag and over 34 000 results appear.
- Do you have advice of your own to people who have been a victim of sexual violence?
This may be easier said than done, but it’s important to keep your head high and remember that the incident does not define you and is NEVER your fault.
No means NO and you are allowed to change your mind whenever you want. Take ownership of your body and give consent when you feel ready. No and maybe does not mean yes. Yes is the ONLY YES.
Lastly, I want you to remember that there is always hope and you are not alone. Seek help or support- there is a lot of assistance out there: doctors, police, family violence services, friends, support groups or even professional counselling. Build strong social networks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “This is not your fault, not your final destination and you are not alone.”
(I am a Christian and feel that turning to God and praying to forgive the offender and to become stronger: but not everyone has the same beliefs. I wish to embrace and respect all religions.)
To find more information regarding the #RedMyLips campaign you can check them out at the following links:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/redlipstick4acause/
SA Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/redmylips_sa/
Spread the word and educate everyone, because this is not about vanity, but about visibility. If you want to add something please feel free to comment or send me an email in the contact me section.