This local Clothesline Project, the 19th annual exhibition of this project in Portland Oregon, was exhibited on August 26th, the 90th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. |
Some of the victims were as young as 4 years old; other shirts said 10 years of age, and 12 years of age.
Some referred to sexual abuse and rape by family members. Another stated, "the only time I was ever accepted was when they could touch my body."
Another, "October 1, today I want to kill my dad."
Many of these women struggle with self recrimination and guilt and must strive to understand that they had no part in these crimes and were innocent victims. "All I hope for is freedom: to love myself; to love my body........"
Another tragic theme that runs through some of these shirts was the cry that "I did not ask for it," an outcry against the fact that authorities often blame the victim.
These shirts portray grief, outrage, shattered spirits and yet incredible resilience in the face of often ongoing abuse and rape. "The human ability to heal continually amazes me."
The motivation as well as the positive result of this project was exemplified by one of the shirts which quoted Joan Baez, "Action is the antidote to despair." This degradation and subordination of women is a crime against humanity. It is not new, nor is it located in any one culture or society. In fact many cultures, past and present, institutionalize to some degree much of what was portrayed on these shirts.....and yet call themselves civilized.
In my opinion, any society or culture that permits or excuses this abuse of another human being, whether a child or even a spouse at home, whether a child or a woman in a theater of combat, whether an adolescent or an adult in a prison, cannot be considered civilized, nor more than they can be considered civilized if encouraging or even allowing slavery, torture or genocide.
Bravo to the strength and incredible courage it must take for someone, often quite young, to step outside their fear, their grief, their mistrust and disillusion to provide encouragement for others who are unfortunately traveling down similar paths.
"Rape is not Sex; it's Violence. Stop the Hate; increase the Peace."