Consent Week: Clothes as Silent Protest

Photo by Erin Nishimura

As part of their fourth annual Consent Week, the Bruin Consent Coalition (BCC) set up a miniature version of the UCLA Clothesline Project in the Kerckhoff Art Gallery. The project, on display from Jan. 17-20, featured a collection of shirts decorated by survivors of sexual assault. Each shirt’s color corresponded to a different type of assault, such as yellow/beige for survivors of domestic violence, and brown for survivors of ritual abuse.

Participants were free to decorate the shirts however they wanted. Many included messages to their assailants; they expressed pity, rage, and anger towards them. Others detailed the barriers they faced throughout the healing process, often citing slut shaming and self-doubt.

The display was part of a national movement intended to act as a silent protest against sexual violence. It is a deeply personal and effective way for survivors to share their stories, as well as highlight the issues with rape culture in the process.

One wall of the gallery was also reserved for allies to post messages of support. A few of the messages read: “You are not your trauma,” “You are loved,” and “I believe survivors.”

In addition to the display, members from the BCC sat outside of the gallery to answer questions about the project, Consent Week, and to provide an array of pamphlets outlining resources for sexual assault survivors.

The UCLA Clothesline Project’s full collection of shirts, including those featured during Consent Week, will be on display in Dickson Court in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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