Sweet/Vicious: Art Imitates Life
By: Brittany Dailey
I, like anyone else, loved “Sweet/Vicious.” To recap, “Sweet/Vicious” is about Jules (Eliza Bennett) and Ophelia (Taylor Dearden), who moonlight as vigilantes on their college campus in order to bring justice for sexual assault survivors. I loved the characters, the sarcastic quick whips, the exploration and journey of Jules’ story. Taking an act of violence and turning it into the ability of one to find their power from it – badass women who are broken and showing us that its ok to broken. You can still be strong and a badass – women supporting women and fighting for other women and what is right. A few months ago a close friend came to me and confided in me that she was sexually assaulted, just mere days prior. I was in shock. I was angry. I was upset. I wanted to go vigilante on the guy who had done this to her. I found myself wondering, is there anything that I can do? How can I help her? In the weeks that followed, I re-watched “Sweet/Vicious,” watched documentaries, read articles and talked to other survivors. But it just didn’t feel like it was enough. The need to somehow not only cathartically cope, but also to creatively outlet was building up inside of me. I remembered the image that creator Jenn Kaytin Robinson had posted on her Instagram, in the wake of the announcement that “Sweet/Vicious” had been cancelled. It was a photo of her, Taylor Dearden and Eliza Bennett. Jenn, crowbar in hand, while Taylor and Eliza are dressed in hoodies (looking badass) and obviously in vigilante mode. The caption attached to it read “I love you all so much. Jules & Ophelia live on in everyone now. Keep fighting. Vagilantes forever.” From that photo, my idea to make it into art and adding the message “We Believe You” was born. With the help of artist Kate Trish, it was then brought to life.
I had the pleasure and the honor to bring this art to ATX last month. Not only did I get to share it with Jenn, Eliza, Taylor and fellow costar Aisha Dee, but also executive producer Stacey Sher and writer and producer Amanda Lasher. I got to share the story of how and why I had to make it as well. Let me say, every single one of these women are inspiring, empowering and real-life superheroes. If you haven’t seen the “Sweet/Vicious” panel from ATX, I recommend that you watch it. Just make sure you have tissues nearby. In the weeks that followed, and even after the panel, various people, through different medias, inquired about the art wanting to know where they could get it or if it was available. I had no intention of selling it. Just being able to bring it to life and share it with everyone involved in the show was more than gratifying. I will forever treasure the moment that I was asked to stand up during the panel and the reaction of every single woman on stage to seeing my shirt with the art on it.
Three weeks ago, I decided to make this “Sweet/Vicious” art available to purchase in the form of stickers and postcards, with all proceeds going to the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN. Despite people’s interest in it, I had no idea if anyone would actually want it. Maybe no one will care or pay attention or really want this. Regardless, I knew that I needed to put this out there. For the survivors. If this could make a difference in just one person’s life and they felt like they were believed and how they felt was valid, then that’s all that matters. If you would have told me that I’d be sitting here writing this, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s been three weeks. There have been sixty-nine orders. And $140 in profit. So, Redbubble takes a certain amount of the profit. They do manufacture and ship the product. But, I did say that 100% of the profit would go to RAINN and I meant that. Also, I will personally be ensuring that whatever amount that Redbubble takes will still be donated to RAINN. The design will stay up indefinitely and I will continue to donate all proceeds to RAINN. And, if anyone, survivor or not, cannot afford it then please let me know and I will make sure that you get one.
To say that this endeavor has impacted and inspired me would be an understatement. Like so many people, I’ve been desensitized to the epidemic of sexual assault. Living in a country and a world where assault and rape culture are seen and thought of as normal. “Sweet/Vicious” has changed my life. Forever. Jenn Kaytin Robinson and everyone involved in this show have created something that has and will continue to impact survivors and non-survivors. If another season is never made, this show will still stand as the most relevant and needed show. But I refuse to believe that this is the end. These stories deserve to be told and survivors deserve to be able to see themselves represented and know that they are not alone. As Eliza Bennett said at the panel, about sexual assault, “It’s everywhere and we have no idea.” This couldn’t be more true. The more people I talk to about this show or this art, the more I find how relevant that statement is. Two out of three women that I’ve talked to over the past several weeks have told me that they’ve been assaulted. Women that I work with, that I have lunch with. Acquaintances. My friends. Women that I know. And women that I don’t, who have sent me messages about how much this art means to them as survivors, and having support.
To be clear, this isn’t a sales pitch to get you to buy this art. This is a call to arms. Support survivors. Support organizations like RAINN. Support creators like Jenn Robinson. Support “Sweet/Vicious.” This isn’t about me, this is about them. It’s about changing the conversation and the stigma.
To anyone who has supported this endeavor, thank you. A million times thank you. I am humbled by your support and, more so, your support for RAINN and every person that has been impacted by sexual assault. Never stop fighting for survivors. Never stop believing them.
To Jenn Kaytin Robinson, you’re a legend. This show is everything. Thank you for not only impacting my life in the most significant way, but for inspiring me and so many others. I will forever be fighting for this cause.
To the survivors. I see you. I believe you. You are valid. I stand with you.