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Shirts tell victims’ stories

VSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program is presenting its 5th annual Clothesline Project in recognition of Domestic Violence Awarenss month.

During the week of Oct. 17, decorative shirts will hang on a clothesline on the Pedestrian Mall. The shirts will portray personal experiences of domestic violence.

“We will provide shirts and paint to decorate the shirts; anyone can participate,” Dr. Tracy Meyers, WGST’s program director for seven years, said.

“If someone is not comfortable making a shirt on the Pedestrian Mall they can decorate a shirt in the privacy of their own home and drop it off at Carswell Hall.”

The Women’s and Gender Studies program will start hanging the shirts on Monday at 9 a.m. and will take the clothesline down on Friday at 2 p.m. Volunteers are welcomed to help and should meet WGST between Nevins and West Halls at the Gazebo.

The annual project, which was started in Oct. 2006 by WGST, is one of the many events that are thrown during the month to raise awareness for domestic violence. Since then, the program has gathered 680 shirts made by VSU students.

The Clothesline Project gives the public a visual display of what each shirt bears witness to by each personal story that is decorated on the shirt. The shirts could represent that person or that person’s loved one’s experience with domestic violence.

“We consider ourselves activist scholars, therefore part of our mission is to educate about and fight against social injustices and oppressions,” Dr. Meyers said.

“We want to let people know about the violence that women and girls experience on our campus, in our community, our country, and world.”

The project originated fall of 1990 in Hyannis, Mass., with 31 shirts by courageous women who shared a common story held together by their personal experience with domestic violence. By speaking out through shirts being hanged for strangers to see, they started a movement to put an end to silence.

Now, the project has affected communities all over the nation as well as in other countries with its purpose: to bear witness to the survivors as well as the victims of the war against women; to help with the healing process for people who have lost a loved one or are survivors of this violence; and to educate, document, and raise society’s awareness of the extent of the problem of violence against women.

Alvinette Patterson, a double-major with a minor in women’s and gender studies, has been involved with WGST for five years and the Clothesline Project for four years. She feels as though people do not know how to recognize domestic violence because it has become a normalized part of our society.

“The idea that someone ‘deserves’ to be hit or belittled (just some aspects of the definition of Domestic Violence) back in his or her place has been seen on everywhere—from the media to our daily lives,” Patterson said. “It affects everyone!”

WGST hopes to continue the awareness through events such as the Handprint Project from Oct. 26 to 28 throughout the month.

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One comment

  1. Domestic violence is a very serious issue. However, the shirts seem to make a mockery out of the acts of violence that occur. Some of the comments on the shirts are explicit, inappropriate and even offensive. I wonder how many of those shirts were actually created by real victims of domestic violence. Isn’t there a better way to raise awareness to such a sensitive issue?

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