The Clothesline Project

The UNI Women’s and Gender Studies Program (WGS) recently hosted a Clothesline Project on campus the week of October 15-21. 

The Clothesline Project is a nation-wide, week-long project founded in 1990 in Cape Cod Massachusetts. The project is intended to raise awareness against marginalized communities, specifically women affected by violence. Those affected by violence have the opportunity to decorate a shirt to express their emotions. Those shirts are hung up on a clotheslines to be viewed by others. Several organizations and college campuses across the United States use this project to raise awareness not only for women, but also for minority groups.

WGS decided to bring the Clothesline Project to campus to support women, specifically women who are oppressed in some way. During the week-long project, t-shirts were decorated then hung up on a clothesline in the Maucker Union on Thursday and Friday of that week. Anna Blaho, WGS Graduate Assistant, explained that there were several strong reactions at the t-shirt decoration stations. “A lot of people want to believe these things happen only on T.V. and the media, but they happen in real life,” said Blaho. “People were able to see a different perspective just for a second … it impacted me and I hope that’s the impact we had on [other] people.”

WGS would like more people to join their events. Another event that is hosted by WGS is “Take Back the Night,” a national event where people gather and have a parade, along with other events. This event provides women with the opportunity to speak out against sexual violence. Women that participate are able to display their bodies how they want, and walk back to campus by themselves. This event is committed to help raise awareness and try to put an end to sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and all other forms of sexual violence. 

WGS also hosts the CROW forums on campus. CROW is an acronym for current research on women (and gender). CROW forum meets every first Monday of each month at 12:00 P.M. At each forum, a faculty member discusses their findings on women and gender studies.  The next CROW forum will be held on February 6 at 12:00 P.M. at Rod in room 287. 

Blaho hopes to see more men involved in projects in the future. “We want the Women and Gender Studies Program to represent the gender part as well.” Blaho explained that each time there is a new inclusive person at an event, they like to see that person stepping out of their comfort zone and willing to make a difference. According to Blaho, just coming to the event is a step forward. She says that these events help raise a certain amount of awareness for sexual violence around campus, but there is still so much more to be done to make sure the problem is reduced. The Clothesline Project was co-sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Student Wellness Services.