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IU Northwest’s Clothesline exhibit raises awareness of gender violence

Tanice Foltz professor sociology director Women’s Gender Studies brought Clothesline Project IU Northwest. It will be display Moraine Student Center

Tanice Foltz, professor of sociology and director of Women’s and Gender Studies, brought the Clothesline Project to IU Northwest. It will be on display in the Moraine Student Center until March 14. | Photo provided

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Indiana University Northwest invites the campus and public to view The Clothesline Project Exhibit to be featured in the Moraine Student Center now through March 14.

The T-shirt exhibit is part of a national project intended to educate, break the silence and bear witness to violence against women and children as well as men, as all violence is gendered violence.

The idea behind the Clothesline Project came from the idea that doing laundry was considered “women’s work.” This meant that women hung their clothes to dry while conversing with neighbors. Although it was once considered shameful to “air one’s dirty laundry” about domestic issues, the Clothesline Project is intended to raise awareness about gender violence and give expression to silenced voices.

The exhibited T-shirts are designed by IU Northwest students, staff and faculty as an expression of their personal stories or in honor of a survivor or victim.

The T-shirts are color coded to show the form of abuse and whether the victim survived: white memorializes those who died from violence; yellow or beige represents battering or assault; red, pink, and orange signify survivors of rape or sexual assault; blue and green are for survivors of incest or sexual abuse; purple and lavender stand for persons attacked due to their sexual orientation; black represents those attacked for political reasons.

During a previous T-shirt exhibit in October, 83 T-shirts lined the windows of the Moraine Student Center. Assistant Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs Monica Solinas-Saunders recalled the day the T-shirt artists came to make their shirts. She was struck by the openness with which those affected by abuse shared their stories with each other — strangers with whom they shared a common bond.

“It was powerful,” she said. “The more we are able to talk about it, the better off we are in reducing the stigma and thinking more thoroughly about our feelings.”

Solinas-Saunders theorized that awareness activities like the T-shirt project could serve to lessen the shame and stigma associated with domestic violence over time. By examining the way people express themselves about violence, Solinas-Saunders wonders if perhaps a shift in thought can be documented over time.

“My guess is that because we are more aware, there is no shame and the victims are not blamed and this will continue to change over time,” she said.

Near the close of the T-shirt exhibit, the Women and Gender Studies program will carry the theme of gender violence to its annual research conference on Thursday, March 13. The conference, “Gender Violence: From Trauma to Triumph,” is a day-long event in which students, as well as experts on gender violence from the campus and community, will present various research projects related to gender violence. The conference is open to the public.

The Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs are sponsors of the T-shirt exhibit.

For more information, or to attend the conference, contact Tanice Foltz, professor of sociology and director of Women’s and Gender Studies, at tfoltz@iun.edu or 980-6786.



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