Title IX office participates in The Clothesline Project

The Title IX office participated in The Clothesline Project from Monday Oct. 28 to Tuesday Oct. 29 beginning at 10 a.m., offering students a unique opportunity to engage in shirt decorating in an effort to educate the campus community about the project’s message: violence is never an isolated incident. An array of colored t-shirts embellished the outside of the Title IX office, located in Blake C, with phrases such as “we hear you” and “we stand with you.”

The Clothesline Project aims to remind society the value of statistics representative of violence because they are often overlooked. 

The projects’ origins lie in Hyannis, Mass. dating back to 1990 when a member of the Cape Cod’s Women’s Defense Agenda learned that 58,000 soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War and comparatively, during the same time period, 51,000 U.S. women were killed by men who “claimed to love them,” according to The Clothesline Project. 

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 51.1 percent of female victims of rape reported the act was committed by an intimate partner. 

“I think this project has been successful in grabbing attention of those who walk by,” Title IX intern Amber Castillo said. “I think it serves as a creative, friendly reminder that violence occurs everywhere. People know that violence, specifically sexual violence, occurs, but many don’t understand how widespread it is.” 

A variety of pamphlets about sexual assault were presented on a table with a guide to indicate the type of violence each decorated shirt represents. Red, orange and pink shirts are representative of sexual assault. Purple indicates assault due to sexual orientation. Other colors were used to illustrate stalking, sexual child abuse, assault related to ethnic identity, domestic violence and homicide. 

“The colors of each shirt allow students to conceptualize the spectrum of violence,” Hana Meda, Title IX intern, said. “The different colors are representative of how widespread violence is and that it comes in many forms.” 

According to presented information at the event, “this is a visual reminder of statistics that we often ignore. It gives a voice to those who have been forcibly silent.” The event hopefully “stirs us to take action” because the public must be informed to be effectively preventative of violence.

“We wanted to provide students with a venue to creatively raise awareness,” Meda said. “I think that the unique approach of The Clothesline Project has grabbed attention as one of the initiatives of the Title IX office to remind the campus that violence is prevalent, and we are here to help.” 

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, rape is the leading under-reported crime, evidenced by the 63 percent of sexual assaults not reported to the police.  

“While most of the community is aware of the prevalence of sexual assault, this project serves as a reminder that sexual violence is not unique to any particular area,” Meda said. “Sexual violence is prevalent everywhere and its victims belong to no exclusive group.” 

One in two transgender individuals and two in five gay men will be sexually abused at some point in their lives. One in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach age 18, according to The Center for Family Justice. 

“This initiative is one of many on campus to demonstrate the effects of violence,” Meda said. “The ‘What Were You Wearing?’ exhibit is coming up with a date to be released on our social media, @geneseotitleixprevent. This exhibit features stories of sexual assault victims along with recreations of what the victim was wearing at the time of their assault.” 

The “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit will take place for the third consecutive year in the College Union Kinetic Gallery in the spring since the installment, as part of a string of national exhibits, was brought to campus in Sept. 2018 by communication major junior Natalie Schlueck. Schlueck organized the event in collaboration with the Geneseo Campus Activities Board and PREVENT coordinator Carrie Johnson. 

“The premise of the exhibit is to educate and reflect on the notion that a survivor’s clothing plays no role in the events that took place,” Schlueck said. “Sexual assault is not determined based upon clothing. This exhibit was to provoke a self-reflection on the ideas and opinions of sexual assault and survivors.”

According to a Sept. 2018 article published in the Genesee Sun, Johnson said that the main goal of “What Were You Wearing?” is to “promote awareness about sexual violence and to combat victim-blaming.” 

“The exhibit and The Clothesline Project collective embody the notion that sexual assault and violence in relationships are topics that need to be discussed and not ignored,” Schlueck said. “To visualize the assaults through the different colors of shirts, or to visualize the outfits worn by victims, gives you a whole new perspective and understanding."u