Red My Lips is an international nonprofit organization designed to raise visibility and awareness about the realities and prevalence of sexual violence, while combating rape myths and victim-blaming. We run an annual global awareness and action campaign where our fierce and fearless supporters rock red lipstick all throughout the month of April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) to demonstrate solidarity and support for survivors and start important conversations with people in their lives.
To transform our culture of sexual violence by educating, inspiring, and mobilizing a global community to red their lips, raise their voices, and create real change.
We continue to convince ourselves that rape only happens to “those girls” who “weren’t careful,” “gave mixed signals,” or “put themselves in a bad situation.” And we elect to believe that men and boys are rarely, if ever, victimized. This tendency to blame, shame, and silence survivors who come forward only serves to convince others that they are wise to keep quiet, giving those who perpetrate these crimes free reign to continue doing so without consequence. Additionally, we frequently misunderstand rape and sexual assault as something provoked by uncontrollable sexual attraction or desire, instead of what it is: an act of domination, entitlement, and violence. This mentality was echoed in the infamous statement made by a Toronto police officer in 2011, when he said, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” which triggered worldwide protests known as ‘Slutwalks.’
Red My Lips combines a core message of Slutwalk with the campaign format of Movember to promote the idea that sexual violence is not caused by tight or revealing clothes, makeup, or “letting your guard down.” It is caused by one person’s DECISION to overpower and violate the body and spirit of another. And until we acknowledge and address this reality, the worldwide pandemic of sexual violence will continue.
Wearing red lipstick in April allows supporters to speak out against these damaging myths and victim-blaming attitudes. It allows us all to stand in solidarity with survivors and refuse to be invisible…refuse to be silent.
Click here to learn more about our April campaign.
In order to address sexual violence across the globe, we need to believe and support those who have been victimized, while also challenging the attitudes and beliefs that normalize, minimize, and perpetuate these crimes. Therefore, our approach includes promoting both survivor support and culture change.
On the night of April 28, 2011, Red My Lips founder, Danielle Tansino, was out with friends. She was later isolated and raped by a childhood friend of her then-housemate. After filing a police report, and following a traumatic experience with the court system, she was told by a female district attorney that they would not prosecute because, “Jurors don’t like girls that drink.”
In this moment, she realized it was not ‘the system’ that fails victims of sexual violence…we ALL do. We ARE the system. And almost more shocking than this realization was the response from friends and family who suggested that the attack was a mere “misunderstanding,” or attempted to frame it as a natural consequence of “not being careful enough.” Many others refused to hear or talk about it at all.
As a social worker, activist, and fighter for social justice, the silence and myths surrounding sexual violence fueled an intense outrage…an outrage that erupted in December of 2012 with the creation of Red My Lips.