The Clothesline Project
What is the Clothesline?
The Clothesline Project is a visual display that bears witness to interpersonal violence in our community. During the public display, a clothesline is hung with shirts. Each shirt is decorated to represent a particular survivor's experience. Survivors can visit the Women's Center during office hours to leave a shirt for the display or to make one in a supportive environment.
The Clothesline Project started with thirty-one shirts hung in Hyannis, Massachusetts in the fall of 1990 to call attention to violence against women. Since then, thousand of projects have been started in communities worldwide. The Tennessee Tech Women's Center has been involved since 1998 and has always welcomed participation from women and men. 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 interpersonal violence.
- To help with the healing process of survivors or those who have lost a loved one to interpersonal violence.
- To educate, document, and raise awareness of the extent of the problem in our community.
- 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 survivors to use shirts, blouses, or tee shirts of durable material preferably with the following color code:
WHITE represents those who have died because of interpersonal violence;
YELLOW or BEIGE represents those who have been battered or assaulted by an intimate partner or family member;
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 or gender identity.
You need not be an artist to create a moving, personal tribute. Whether you choose simply to draw or to sew elaborate embroidery is up to you. These colors are not mandatory if a different color or pattern has special significance to you. Please read the "Creating a shirt" section before making your shirt.
- Creating a Shirt
We would like each shirt to reflect the survivor's personal experience. You may include your first name and date, but it is not required. Some suggestions for 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. No puff paints or glitter please.
At each display, shirts and materials will be available for people who wish to design a shirt at the time.
Because making a shirt can be part of the healing process for survivors of interpersonal violence, shirts should be created by the survivor. If you would like ti have support at hand when making your shirt, please make an appointment at the Women's Center. We appreciate any information that you wish to share, but please read the "Names" section below.
We will respect requests for confidentiality.
For those killed.
You may want to submit a shirt that belonged to the victim. Please include the person's name, date of birth and death, and hometown on the shirt. 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 or his death. Tell us what this person meant to you and how you think they should be remembered. Enclose a photograph of the person if you have a copy you are willing to part with. (We cannot be responsible for returning photographs or mementos.)
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.