This week the Women’s Center is bringing the topic of violence against women to campus with the annual Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is held in conjunction with the National Awareness of Violence against Women Month, which is April.The Clothesline Project was started in 1990 when a women’s group in Massachusetts wanted to take the negative statistic of violence against women and turn it into a provocative, “in-your-face” educational and healing tool, according to the Clothesline Project’s offical Web site, www.clotheslineproject.org. Many of those inital women involved had personal connections to violence.
Rachel Carey-Harper, moved by the AIDS quilt, was the person who presented the idea of hanging shirts to raise awareness of violence against women. According to the site, it seemed like a natural idea since laundry was considered to be “women’s work” and the women often talked and exchanged information while hanging their laundry out to dry.
On October 31, shirts were hung as part of a “Take Back the Night” march and rally. This year on campus, the Clothesline Project is being done as a separate project almost a week before the “Take Back the Night Rally.”
“We want personal experiences or reactions. We want people who need to express themselves and this is a way for them to [do so],” said Sarah Huskin, who is in charge of the T-shirts for the project at West Chester. “It’s kind of a therapeutic thing.”
Huskin said that the various colors of the shirts mean different things. For example, white is used to signify a woman who has died of violence. She also said that those who make shirts can put their first names, initials or nicknames on them, but asks that no last names are given. “It’s one of those things that you can’t leave by itself because it’s so powerful. Even looking through the T-shirts, people have been crying,” Huskin said.
The shirts that were made last week through today (April 13, 2004) will be hung around the Academic Quad and in Sykes on April 14 through 15. Huskin said that they do not hand everything up the night before, but rather they do it throughout the day. “We spend all day putting it up and if we are there all day and then have to take it right down. Its kind of what we do.