Clotheslines emphasize consent

By Ryan Connelly

A student decorates a T-shirt outside the Bart Luedeke Center on April 6 as part of Rider’s fourth annual Clothesline Project.

Colorful T-shirts with messages of empowerment hung outside Cranberry’s on April 2 as part of the Clothesline Project, an initiative to help raise awareness of violence against women.

According to the campaign’s official website, the purpose of this project is to teach young adults about violence and how it is a big problem in communities everywhere. It is a visual reminder about how incest, domestic violence and sexual violence are in people’s lives, but is often ignored. 

To demonstrate this, students decorated T-shirts with phrases on them such as “No means no” and “Consent is sexy.”

After they decorated and put messages on shirts, they hung them up on clotheslines and along chairs in the dining area of Cranberry’s. Shirts from previous years were also displayed to show the growth and popularity of the event.

Senior sociology major Destiny Cherry said, “The idea is that we rehang the shirts from previous years and each year, we make more and more. Every shirt represents a person who stands against gender violence.” 

The public must know about this type of violence in order to do something about it. Information is provided at each display of the project on how to recognize and prevent violence and make a difference in the community. This project also allows for those survivors to finally speak out after being forcibly silenced.

The Clothesline Project started 28 years ago as a way for survivors of sexual assault and allies to show their support and make public statements anonymously to help to draw awareness to the situation.

It is done mostly on college campuses, but sometimes in other locations too, according to the project’s website. This is the fourth year Rider has participated in the campaign.

“One of the T-shirts this year that really got me said, ‘Dear Daddy’ on the front, and on the back, ‘Why?’ and that just kills me,” said Susan Stahley, Rider’s prevention education coordinator. “I’m always going on about consent, and if it’s not your body part, don’t touch it without asking. I’m always looking to educate students on the necessity of getting consent — a sober, positive, affirmative ‘yes.’”

Senior psychology major Ashley Leeds said, “The Clothesline Project is a visible way to portray sexual assault victims and survivors and their allies. The fact that people can see the tangible item of the shirts outside is a special way to come together.”

For more information about the initiative, please visit clotheslineproject.info

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