There’s a clothesline strung from that big beech tree on Founders Green, tee shirts flapping in the wind.
Here’s the word:
“The Women’s Center presents The Clothesline Project as the first piece of this year’s Rape and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is a visual testimony to the prevalence of sexual violence.
We hung it across Founders Green today, and it will remain up for one week. We strongly encourage you to take a few minutes during this week to stop and experience the powerful and emotional display.
The CLP began eighteen years ago in a small community in Massachusetts and has since spread across the country, and into other nations as well. In each display, a clothesline is hung with shirts that are designed and decorated by community members, representing a variety of voices and experiences. Haverford students made all of our t-shirts. Each shirt is decorated with words and/or images to represent a survivor’s experience, by the survivor her/himself or by someone who cares about her/him.
According to the CLP’s official website ( www.clotheslineproject.org) the purpose of the project is four-fold:
1. To bear witness to the survivors as well as the victims of the war against women
2. To help with the healing process for people who have lost a loved one or are survivors of this violence
3. To educate, document, and raise society’s awareness of the extent of the problem of violence against women
4. To provide a nationwide network of support, encouragement and information for other communities starting their own Clothesline Projects.
While these stated goals and reasons for making shirts are clear, we want to clarify that our version of the CLP is not limited in some of the ways the above suggests. We want the Haverford community to feel free to speak to issues of sexual violence in all ways and forms. Sexual violence is of course not restricted to violence against women; it affects all people. The vast majority of this violence is against women, but the men who are survivors/victims are suffering under the same system. Also, it occurs in a variety of forms; the category of sexual violence does not preclude domestic or verbal abuse.
We hope that this will be the beginning of a long-lasting tradition, as each year we will reuse these shirts and hope that we will accumulate more t-shirts from the community. If you would like to create a shirt, please contact us! We can provide you with all basic materials (blank white t-shirt, markers, paints). In a society where one out of two women will be in a violent relationship (National Victim Center), rape and sexual assault are too often ignored.
We feel that the Haverford Community will profoundly benefit from seeing The Clothesline Project in action.”