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The Noisy Movement: in conversation with Lifestyle

As part of The Student’s focus on International Women’s Day 2021, I caught up with Faye Armitage, Campaign Team Leader for The Noisy Movement, to find out all about the student-led non-profit enterprise making noise about women’s issues, even during a global pandemic.

Hi Faye, for those who’ve never heard of it, what is the Noisy Movement, and what is your mission? 

At The Noisy Movement we basically just aim to ‘make noise’ for vulnerable groups in society – the clue is in the name! We want to raise awareness, funds and educate our peers and, hopefully, Edinburgh and beyond about important causes such as sexual abuse, sexual violence, and male mental health. These are issues that carry a great deal of stigma, and often people are discouraged from talking about them. We aim to break that stigma, make noise, and help to get people talking. We currently have two campaigns, ThisIsNotConsent and Noise4Boys, and as part of these we have raised money for Rape Crisis Scotland, Women’s Aid and Edinburgh Crisis Centre. These are amazing organisations that support our mission to break stigmas and make noise, and we are honoured to put the money we have raised to good use and to improve the lives of people across the country.

Tell me about the origins – what specifically inspired the founders to create this student-led nonprofit social enterprise and how did it grow from there?

The Noisy Movement was started in 2018 by Niamh McCrossan, now the VP Welfare Officer, who was inspired by a rape trial in Cork in 2018 to make a difference. In this trial, a 17 year old’s lace underwear were used by the defence as indicative of her giving consent. This is just blatant victim-blaming, and the type of underwear that someone wears is not giving consent – only an enthusiastic and willing ‘YES!’ is. 

It all just grew from there, TNM designed tote bags and t-shirts which were then sold around Edinburgh University in aid of Rape Crisis Scotland. Later, we organised Noisy Night which raised £265 and also showcased local musical talent, we made a blog, we launched Noise4Boys in September 2019 in partnership with the University of Edinburgh American Football Team in aid of Edinburgh Crisis Centre, and we also have organised a night at The Mash House with Girl Up which raised money for Edinburgh Women’s Aid. So we have been busy! Since Covid 19, we have been working on ways to bring the same content to an online setting, and so we launched a brand new website, a new blog layout, an online Christmas raffle in aid of Edinburgh Crisis Centre, and more recently we have held a week of action as part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. There is so much more to come, and we are very excited to share these with you, so keep your eyes peeled!

What inspired you personally to get involved? Tell us a bit about your specific role.

This is a cause that I am super passionate about and deals with issues that I think are really important to, quite literally, make noise about. Whether it is raising money, awareness, or voices, thinking about how the work we do might have an effect on someone who needs it is really quite rewarding. I also want to work for charities or NGOs when I graduate, and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to combine a cause close to my heart and my future career aspirations.

As a Campaign Team Leader, specifically for our ThisIsNotConsent campaign, my role combines both raising awareness about sexual assault and violence and raising money for our chosen charities which aid survivors. Along with the rest of the team, I brainstorm ways of going about this, something which I have found a bit difficult during the pandemic! It has definitely tested my organisational and creative skills, as I really want to think of new and innovative ideas to further the campaign and our aims at TNM as a whole.

image: Ju Pereira via TheNoisyMovement

Your ThisIsNotConsent campaign has made quite the impact over the last couple of years, with the slogan “lace, silk or thong, rape is always wrong” gaining an iconic position in consent discourse. Give us some more details on what the campaign has involved.

In a pre-pandemic world we had a whole range of events as part of the ThisIsNotConsent campaign! We held various club events with Girl Up, Noisy Night of live music and local talent, we had so many bag sales outside the library. We had planned to hold an open mic night and a ball at The Balmoral – but like many things that had to be put on hold. We have had to adapt to focus more on our online presence, something which has taken some getting used to but it is definitely a welcome challenge! For instance, for the first week of February we held a week long schedule of awareness-raising resources and informative activities for our followers as part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. We had a different post every day, ranging from myth-busting, a virtual library and pledges from other university organisations such as Black Feminist Space, Girl Up and CERT. This was a part of the campaign that I was super proud of, and something I feel was quite impactful and (hopefully!) helpful for our followers. A big part of what I want to do at TNM is to educate and raise awareness, and above all else to make conversations around big issues such as sexual assault easier and more normal.

image: Amy Steele via TheNoisyMovement

I was also very impressed to see on your website and Instagram that you have another initiative called NoiseForBoys. It’s great to see a feminist organisation embracing patriarchy’s negative effects on men as well as women. Can you tell us more about the campaign?

NoiseForBoys was a campaign we started in 2019 to make noise for male mental health, and to raise money in partnership with Edinburgh Crisis Centre. Suicide is the most common cause of death for men ages 18 – 49. It is a silent killer and no one should have to suffer alone, and that is why it is so important to make some noise. As you said, patriarchy doesn’t only affect women, it affects men too, and we felt like this is something that is simply not talked about enough – toxic masculinity and the pressure placed on men as a result of the patriarchy is real and valid, and we really wanted to make a difference for all people, regardless of gender identity.  In the beginning we sold water bottles, with the proceeds going to Edinburgh Crisis Centre, an organisation which provides community based, emotional and practical support for anyone at times of crisis. This campaign was launched in partnership with the University of Edinburgh American Football Team, and we had a launch night at The Counting House in which we raised £825 which was absolutely incredible! 

We have continued to make noise about mental health, with our President Emily writing a wonderful blog post, and we also had a Christmas raffle in aid of Edinburgh Crisis Centre where we raised another £214! We have so many exciting things planned in the next few weeks, which we cannot wait to share!

How can our readers get involved with the Noisy Movement during the pandemic? 

You can follow our Instagram @the_noisy_movement, our Facebook The Noisy Movement, and check out our website and blog www.thenoisymovement.wixsite.com. If you would like to get involved with us, then DM us on Instagram, Facebook, or drop us an email at thenoisymovement@gmail.com. We would love to welcome you to the team! As we are relying a lot more on social media and the Internet (for obvious reasons!) then sharing our posts on our social media sites are the perfect way to make noise with us and raise awareness.

If enough of us make noise and shout, we will be heard!

image: Ju Pereira via TheNoisyMovement