This evening the universities of Sheffield, Leeds and Auckland officially launched The Shiloh Project. The project will predominantly examine the ways in which the Bible has informed contemporary rape culture. This continues to be a distressingly relevant topic, as Professor Johanna Stiebert lamented: “we’re not getting anywhere with rape culture”. As part of the opening statements this sentiment seemingly coloured the tone of the evening and as I negotiated my way around the room it was obvious people were hungry for change and they want it now.
“Throughout my lifetime I’ve been intensely upset seeing particular genres of fiction use rape as a plot device, as a motivator of female agency […] Everyone on social media is screaming ‘this is wrong!’. This project adds more voices to that argument” – Robyn Orfitelli
“Today was insightful and evoking. We must work to say to people – rape culture and gender inequality are real, this is not a perfect world. It’s great to hear the academics are doing more” – Sipho Dube
“The sad thing about second wave feminism – all we achieved we lost. We need that movement again” – Professor Cheryl Exum
“We’re ready for this project” – Pete David
“It’s the most intellectually stimulated I’ve been in a long time” – Georgie Beardmore
“I’m angry that we’re still having to have these conversations and I’m angry people are still suffering and still victims of sexual violence. We cannot talk in hushed whispers any longer. We must fight and challenge sexism for a more equal and inclusive society” – Lu Skerratt
The people of Sheffield have spoken. I for one look forward to seeing how the archive and the project can collaborate to liberate testimony and inform a conversation that evidently needs to be had – now.
Thanks for reading,