Creators of exhibit at University say clothing worn by victims doesn’t ’cause’ rape

by Elaina Finkelstein/ABC7

University: Clothes can’t stop rape. Sexual violence myth exposed by students. (Kansas Photographer Jennifer Sprague) 

The University of Kansas began the 2017 school year with a thought-provoking exhibit that creators say proves sexual violence is not caused by outfit choice.

In the exhibit, 18 outfits hung next to rape survivors’ stories describing what they were wearing when they were attacked.

“The belief that clothing or what someone was wearing ’causes’ rape is extremely damaging for both survivors and for our community,” said Jen Brockman, director of the university’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, in a statement to ABC7.

The “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit included various types of outfits from sundresses to t-shirts that they say shows outfit choice does not cause sexual violence.

“This installation allows participants to see themselves reflected in not only the outfits, but also in the experiences of the survivors,” Brockman also stated.

The creators of the exhibit say, the heartbreaking stories paired with clothing pinned on the walls shed light on one of society’s most pervasive rape myths.

“The intent of the Installation is to create a tangible response to one of our most pervasive rape culture myths,” Brockman also stated.

The outfits are not the actual clothing worn, but are donated from students and faculty based on the description of a survivor’s story.

“T-shirt and jeans. It happened three times, by three different people in my life. Each time I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans,” one story read on a plac hanging next to an old yellow t-shirt hanging on the wall.

Another story read, “A sun dress. Months later, my mother would stand in front of my closet and complain about how I never wore any of my dresses anymore. I was six years old.”

“What Were You Wearing?” originated in 2013 at the University of Arkansas by Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Jen Brockman and was inspired by the poem What I was Wearing by Dr. Mary Simmerling.

The exhibit closed on September 15, but the Huffington Post says it will be featured online in October.