What Were You Wearing? Weaving a New Narrative is an exhibition that aims to dismantle the toxic ideology behind the question asked to so many sexual assault survivors- “did what you wear cause your attack?” As a platform to allow survivors to reclaim their bodies and stories, this exhibit consists of first-hand survivor accounts detailing what they were wearing when assaulted to debunk the theory that the two are correlated, or that a survivor should have any blame in the matter. This exhibit will act as a springboard to illuminate the severe problem of sexual assault across college campuses.
No matter a visitor’s experience with sexual violence, our hope is that they will be impacted through the project goals of awareness, support, advocacy, education, and agency. As they engage with the exhibit, we hope participants will become aware of how rape culture is perpetuated by society, acquire knowledge of how to support survivors, learn ways to advocate for the bodies of all members of their community to ensure safety, and serve as a witness to decades of trauma occurring in the state of Maryland.
The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013 inspired by inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I Was Wearing. Our exhibit combines contemporary survivor stories with historic survivor stories researched from the Baltimore Sun, dating back as far as 1852. The TU Theatre Arts Department’s historic clothing collection adds a historical component to the exhibit to further emphasize how deeply these attitudes are woven into the fabric of our history and culture.
Pieces of this exhibit can also be seen in the MICA library.