A clothesline will be hung on the CCBC Dundalk campus in the coming days, and over the following week it will be populated with a rainbow of different shirts. This clothesline, however, has nothing to with laundry; this clothesline is for fighting violence.
“The Clothesline Project,’’ a national effort started in 1990, will come for the first time to Dundalk’s Student Lounge March 7 with the goal of ending all types of violence against women.
“All students and community residents are invited and encouraged to participate. This will be a student led event,” according to Dr. Patricia Quintero-Hall, CCBC Dundalk Multicultural Affairs Coordinator.
The project is a joint effort of CCBC Dundalk’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of Student Life and the Student Honor Society (Phi Theta Kappa).
The Clothesline Project will run from the March 7 to March 14 in conjunction with the “One Billion Rising” dance event. During the week, participants will create shirts for the clothesline, each as unique as the acts of violence that they emblemize.
A feature of similar “Project Clothesline” events is a color coding system, tying the individual shirts with the types of trauma experienced by the real people the shirts represent. For example:
* White represents women who died because of violence;
* Yellow or beige represents battered or assaulted women;
* Red, pink, and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault;
* Blue and green t-shirts represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse;
* Purple or lavender represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation;
* Black is for women attacked for political reasons.
The Clothesline Project started in Cape Cod, Mass., by a coalition of women’s groups. The catalyst for the project was a statistic that showed 58,000 soldiers died in the Vietnam War. During that same period of time, 51,000 women were killed. The coalition is designed to “consciously develop a program that would educate, break the silence and bear witness to one issue – violence against women,’’ according to the organization.
The use of a clothesline was inspired by another project: The NAMES project’s AIDS quilt, which was created in 1987 and includes more than 48,000 individual panels in a 3 foot by six foot quilt that honors the memory of those who died from AIDS.
“The idea of using a clothesline was a natural. Doing the laundry was always considered women’s work and in the days of close-knit neighborhoods women often exchanged information over backyard fences while hanging their clothes out to dry,’’ according to the Clothesline Project.
Since the first Clothesline Project was launched in 1990, there have been 500 projects nationally and internationally with an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 shirts.
“It is the very process of designing a shirt that gives each woman a new voice with which to expose an often horrific and unspeakable experience that has dramatically altered the course of her life. Participating in this project provides a powerful step towards helping a survivor break through the shroud of silence that has surrounded her experience,’’ according to the Project
In October of 2012 Utah Valley University held a “Project Clothesline” event with an online component. www.uvu.edu/equitycenter/clothesline. Their site is an example of what participants and spectators can expect from “The clothesline Project.’’ This example, along with the multitude of other “Clothesline Project” events held across the nation; remind us of the far-reaching impacts of violence in our communities.
While this is an artistic expression, the seriousness of the subject matter ought not to be overlooked. As we view, and participate in this display we should be ever mindful that each individual piece of art represents a real tragedy.
For further information, check out the CCBC Student Life Face Book page. See also: www.uvu.edu/equitycenter/clothesline, which is the Utah Valley University’s Clothesline Project page.
Information on the National Clothesline Project can be viewed at www.clotheslineproject.org .
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