Faslane Peace Camp and Safe Places To Sleep

*content warning for non-graphic discussion of sexual assault*

Having my own art studio again has really got me inspired. I really don’t want to put too much pressure on myself – I’m doing that enough with the zine business – so the art is more about exploring ideas visually and actually finding things to say again, now that I have the means to communicate directly.

I’ve been thinking about tents and independent living, homes and houses and the Occupy movement. How the domestic spaces we’re supposed to be ‘safe’ in – i.e. our family homes or our university dorms – are the sites of so many sexual assaults and abuses, while there’s still the message being fed to young women that it’s unsafe for us to camp or drive or sleep rough or hitchhike alone.

Recently I’ve been crashing in my car a bit, as well as couchsurfing with friends and strangers, and I’ve been getting a real yearning to camp and to build temporary accommodation. I’m sure I can keep the rain off and it’s still warm outside (yes, even in Scotland) so what’s holding me back? The fear of rape.

And yet, the only thing close to a sexual assault I’ve ever experienced was in my own flat. My first flat on my own that I loved dearly and decorated myself and furnished and lived in and loved in and I am still so angry that it happened there. How dare it have.

What’s the point of avoiding camping alone or sleeping rough because of something that’s already happened in the safest space I could make? Trying to avoid rape, it seems, is all kinds of pointless. The whole awful thing about sexual assault is that there’s nothing – at all – that you could have done to prevent it. It happens. We can’t make ourselves safer ourselves.

So Faslane? I’ve wanted to go visit for some time. Now, having the art studio in Glasgow and needing to arrange somewhere to stay nearby two nights a week it makes sense to check out the Peace Camp. It was established by women. It’s focused, committed and more than 30-years-old. It looks like, from the videos I’ve watched and the stories I’ve been told by people who’ve been there, to be an arty, direct action sort of place. I’m into that.

And Alfie doesn’t seem too terrified at the prospect of me staying there.

So, I’ll pack up my tents tomorrow along with a sleeping bag, blanket, cushions, clean underwear, food, DIY supplies, zines, art materials and all the post I need to send when I’m in Glasgow. I’ve emailed the folks at Faslane and left a voicemail, but no reply yet. It seems they don’t mind people just turning up though.

I hope it will be okay. I really, really don’t want to get sexually assaulted at a peace camp. That would just be too much.

Ana