The Clothesline Project

Clothesline Project

 Shavonda and CLP2013

What is the Clothesline?

The Clothesline Project is a visual display that bears witness to the violence against women. During the public display, a clothesline is hung with shirts. Each shirt is decorated to represent a particular women's experience, by the survivor herself or by someone who cares about her. You can come by the Women's Center during office hours to leave a shirt for the display or to make one.

The Clothesline Project started with thirty-one shirts hung in Hyannis, Massachusetts in the fall of 1990. Since that time, projects have been started in communities all across the U.S. and in other countries .The Tennessee Tech Women's Center has been involved since 1998. Our collection is generally displayed in the RUC for one day in April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The purposes of the project are:

To bear witness to the survivors as well as the victims of the war against women.
To help with the healing process for people who have lost a loved one or are survivors of this violence.

To educate, document, and raise society's awareness of the extent of the problem of violence against women.

To provide a nationwide network of support, encouragement and information for other communities starting their own Clothesline Projects.

What goes on the Clothesline?

We ask women to send shirts, blouses, or tee shirts of durable material preferably with the following color code:

WHITE represents women who have died because of violence;
YELLOW or BEIGE represents women who have been battered or assaulted;
RED, PINK, or ORANGE are for survivors of rape and sexual assault;
BLUE or GREEN t-shirts represent survivors of incest or child sexual abuse;
PURPLE or LAVENDER represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation.
You need not be an artist to create a moving, personal tribute. Whether you choose simply to paint or sew elaborate embroidery is up to you - any remembrance is appropriate. These colors are not mandatory if a different color or pattern has a special significance to you.

Creating a shirt.

We would like each shirt to reflect the woman's personal experience. You may include a name, date, and memorabilia such as tools of a trade or symbols of interest. Some suggestions for enduring durability:

use a natural fabric
sew rather than using glue
photocopy photographs onto iron-ons
use acrylic or textile paint, color-fast dye or indelible ink
At each display, shirts and materials will be available for people who wish to design a shirt at the time.

For women killed.

You may want to submit a shirt that belonged to her. Please show on the shirt the women's name, date of birth and death and hometown. When the shirt is complete you may wish to take the time to write a description of the person you have memorialized.

Please include information you wish to share about her death. Tell us what this person meant to you and how you think she should be remembered. Enclose a photograph of the person if you have one you are willing to part with. We cannot be responsible for returning photographs or mementos.

For survivors.

Because making a shirt is part of the healing process for survivors of violence, shirts should be submitted by the survivor. If not possible, a shirt for a survivor should be submitted with her written permission. We ask that you respect their anonymity by not using their name. Last name or hometown is not required. We would appreciate whatever information you or she would like to share.

We will respect requests for confidentiality.


Naming the perpetrator is an important part of the healing process. But, for legal reasons, we cannot display shirts with full names of the perpetrators. We ask that shirt makers use first names or initials if they wish to name their violator.

Some facts about violence against women:

One out of two women will be in a violent relationship. (National Victim Center)

Every single minute of every day more than one women is raped in America. (U.S. Justice Department)

Before the age of 18, one out of three girls, and one out of seven boys will be victims of incest or sexual assault. (Survivors of Incest Anonymous)

*This information is supplied by The Clothesline Project, Box 727, East Dennis, Massachusetts 02641. The Clothesline Project is a group of people from all backgrounds. We stand together committed to challenging our outward and internalized homophobia, racism, and sexism and other oppressions. We make the connections between these violences and the violence we experience as women.

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