The Feminist Rappers Who Are Updating Sweden’s Old-Fashioned Definition of Rape

In Sweden, Femtastic gives survivors of sexual violence a voice in a male-dominated music industry.

Still from A Woman’s Place: How These Women Are Using Music To Combat Sexual Assault.

It can be easy to gloss over social problems in a country known for being one of the most progressive in the world. So it might be surprising to know that in Sweden, often thought of as a “progressive utopia,” the number of reported rapes increased by 11 percent from 2013 to 2014. There, women’s rights advocates continue to fight the nation’s legal definition of rape, which still uses terms like force and violence, rather than a sexual act that lacks explicit consent.

When rape is defined in this way, people who don’t explicitly say “No,” or don’t physically fight off an assailant aren’t legally considered assaulted—even if they never consented. Removing the violence requirement would make justice more accessible to victims whose stories have largely been ignored.

For episode six of A Woman’s Place, Kassidy Brown and Allison Rapson spoke to the members of Femtastic, a collective of female DJs, rappers, and musicians working to bring more women into what they see as a male-dominated music industry. Through the collective, members hope to give women, especially survivors of sexual violence, a voice.

“After we met with the Femtastic girls, we downloaded the album right away, and it became like an anthem for the rest of the trip,” Rapson said. “It makes you feel like you are powerful and invincible.”

Femtastic hopes tracks like “FATTA”—which directly address rape with stories of sexual violence from hundreds of women—can help their audience feel uplifted and expose Sweden’s insufficient consent laws which leave many sexual assault victims feeling powerless.

“[Sweden] should be celebrated for all the progress they’ve made,” Rapson said. “As far as equal rights goes they’re pretty far along. But there’s still a lot of work to be done, and they’re finding really creative ways to do that.”