Guest post from the sisters and co-creators of No Pants No Problem
On Saturday July 19th, my sister Bunny Vish’us and I, Brittney-Elizabeth Williams, are gathering over five hundred people to hang out at Baltimore’s Artscape – in our underwear! We’ve dubbed the action No Pants No Problem, and we’re asking those who join us to walk about casually, enjoying the sights and acting as though their missing pants are completely normal. Though the act of hanging out (literally) may seem silly, the intended message is anything but:
We’re going pantless to start a dialogue about Respect- because we all deserve Respect, no matter how we dress or look. We came up with the idea in late February, during our weekly family dinner. I told my family that I was walking to a bar with friends when someone followed me for several blocks and then reached out, grabbing my butt. Without expressing any semblance of empathy, my grandfather asked, “Yes, but what were you wearing?” My mother, aunts and cousins turned and looked at me intently, waiting for an answer. I suddenly realized that these people raised me and love me and STILL wanted to hold responsible for this man’s behavior. The feeling was unsettling. Rather than rant to social media about it, I wanted to take action.
So Bunny and I began thinking of ways to promote respect and eliminate victim blaming, and we quickly realized that the problem is, quite frankly, colossal. We are blamed for being street harassed. We are blamed for being harassed at work and school. We are blamed for being discriminated against, raped, and sexually violated. We are blamed for being the target of hate crimes, for being bullied, for being fat shamed, for being anything that anyone else considers so different that they cannot easily understand it. We created No Pants No Problem for all of these scenarios, because if we can cultivate a culture of respect, none of these scenarios would exist.
We’re still shocked about how quickly the idea moved forward. Our friends are a crew of awesome, free spirited people who often experience disrespect because they choose to march to the beat of their own drums. It really started with them, because they started signing up to attend the action almost immediately and then shared it with their friends who shared it with their friends and within a week, we had over one hundred people signed on to attend the action. By the end of the month, No Pants No Problem went from a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” conversation between two sisters, to a full-on revolution backed by over five hundred people who have happily agreed to go pantless in solidarity with the movement.
Force, a local artist-activist group that’s creating a quilt to honor survivors of sexual violence, has also been an integral part in helping us grow. They’ve helped us spread the word about the No Pants No Problem, and they are allowing us to use their studio space for Craft + Connect, a monthly event for May, June and July, where we decorate underwear, talk about the different ways in which disrespect, victim blaming and shaming have affected our lives, and photograph anyone who is interested in modeling for the movement.
If you’d like to be part of No Pants No Problem, please visit our event page for the deets, and come to Craft + Connect on May 4th and musical taste to join us- together, we can spark the kind of conversation that is necessary to influence change! at 1pm. We encourage those of every gender, race, sexual orientation.
Brittney-Elizabeth Williams, affectionately known as B-Liz, is a queer feminist, activist, and photographer. She is part of the Charm City Kitty Club and Glitter Thighs. She has collaborated with fellow artist-activist group FORCE, and modeled for their Pink Loves Consent action.
Candice Williams, better known as Bunny Vish’us, has traveled the country and beyond performing and teaching the art of burlesque. She was crowned Queen of Crabs in 2012, and is the co-producer of Burl-eoke, a monthly live show that combines burlesque, karaoke, and a generous helping of WTF.
Note from site-leader Shawna: You can RSVP to their event on Facebook.