Sunday, March 15, 2009

Should a rape crisis centre use sexuality to raise money?

This issue has received a lot of attention recently in Belfast. A struggling rape crisis centre hired a burlesque star to perform at an event. Of course this move secured a lot of attention from the media. I read about it on the UK’s Professional Fundraising blog. On that blog I commented that I hoped more blogs talked about it so as to generate more attention for the small struggling charity in Belfast. So it seems only fitting to mention it on my own blog.

But what to say……

We could talk about the difference between burlesque and stripping. A topic my dear husband willing researched for me. According to his research burlesque is an art form that started in the 1800’s as musical, comedic theatre with gross exaggeration and parody. Sounds fun.

Today:
“The UK scene is definitely growing with the introduction of the London Burlesque Festival in 2007 and the Ministry Of Burlesque gaining a seven-figure investment from a major mainstream media company in mid-2008 to create an IP/TV channel and TV studios which are entirely dedicated to the artform. Club Noir is officially the world's biggest burlesque club according to Guinness World Records, with up to 2,000 people at their events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.”


Hmmm. Isn’t’ that interesting mainstream media in the UK is investing huge amounts of money into burlesque but we are condemning a small charity in Belfast for doing the exactly same thing. (If you haven’t read “Uncharitable” by Dan Palotta you may want too)

All that is sort of boring though…this argument is about something bigger...

Should a rape crisis centre use sexuality, aka burlesque, to raise money so that they can help more victims?

Should a breastfeeding organization take money from companies that violate the WHO Code for the ethical marketing of breastmilk substitutes so they can help more new mothers?

Should an environmental organization take money from businesses that make parking lots for us to park our cars on and build houses for us to live in so that we can create more wetlands and plant more trees?

Should children’s organizations raise money to stop bullying by creating boxing matches between police officers and firefighters?

Should a humanist organization run a bus campaign claiming there isn't a God?

This is not a question of the right or wrong decisions of a small charity in Ireland. This is a question about values.

I can’t claim to be an expert on counseling rape victims. Fortunately that is beyond the scope if my experience. But if the crisis centre in Belfast can help more women recover from their assault and eventually have a sexually satisfying relationship; I would enthusiastically attend an event with a burlesque dancer.

We, fundraisers, do not have the right to judge the decisions of other charities. Each charity has to determine its own values.
Jim Collins states"

In truly great companies, change is a constant, but not the only constant. They understand the difference between what should never change and what should be open for change, between what is truly sacred and what is not. And by being clear about what should never change, they are better able to stimulate change and progress in everything else.


To compete, we have to change, we have to embrace our values and we have to evolve. Why should small charities anywhere be any different? The only people who have the right to judge whether a charity made the "right" decision based on their values is....

THE DONOR, who presumably shares the same values and will withdraw their support if a charity strays too far.

You might have different ideas about this. I welcome the debate. "Angry feminists" you are welcome here. Middle aged men who wanted to comment on this but didnt...you are too. What do you think?

Thank you for spending time here.

3 comments:

  1. In the case of the rape crisis center and the burlesque dancer, I would think, if anything, this move would be a MAJOR talking point and one that often gets overlooked when examining rape myths.

    One study found that many rape myths exist and remain unchallenged. In wondering whether pairing a burlesque dancer w/ the crisis center, this myth seems to be one that could potentially open up serious and enlightening discussion:

    Rape myths are those beliefs about rape that function to blame the victim and exonerate the rapist (Burt, 1991; Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994). Female precipitation is the most common rape myth because it directly holds the victim responsible for the rape. Female precipitation is the belief that the rape was provoked in some way by the victim, e.g., by the victim engaging in unsafe behaviors (such as drinking), by how she dressed, or by how she generally behaved.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2294/is_2000_May/ai_65306521

    So, it seems to me that this could be a real chance not only for fundraising but for education, engagement and dialogue. I say, good on them!

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  2. Thank you for such a well thought out comment Leanne. Since this event was held on a University campus I really do hope that there was an opportunity for some dialogue. Hope you are well. Spring has sprung here!

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  3. I've just downloaded iStripper, and now I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers strip-teasing on my taskbar.

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