On Tuesday, April 19, ISU Feminist Led Activist Movement to Empower (ISU F.L.A.M.E.) hosted The Clothesline Project on the Quad of Illinois State University. The project allows survivors of domestic and sexual violence to “air their dirty laundry” and confront community members with the stark reality to the large number of survivors in their very own community.
ISU F.L.A.M.E. hosts The Clothesline Project every semester. This semester, The Clothesline Project is held in coordination with April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Student Taylor Ericson stated the importance of attending this event.
“I always make a conscious effort to reach each shirt whenever this event happens on the quad. It breaks my heart, but the silenced need to be voiced. So in a way, it’s beautiful,” said Ericson.
Each shirt represents a specific experience created by the survivor or in remembrance of a loved one. Student Becca Maree described the significance of each color.
“White represents women who died because of violence; yellow or beige represents battered or assaulted women; red, pink, and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault; blue and green T-shirts represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse; purple or lavender represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation; black is for women attacked for political reasons,” said Maree.
Understanding each color amplifies that each shirt holds an incredible emotional weight. “I always get super teary eyed—especially at the white shirts. But because it is an effort to bring awareness, it is beautiful,” said Maree.
This is not the only community activism ISU F.L.A.M.E. has put in front of ISU students this month. At the beginning of April, members of ISU F.L.A.M.E. posted panty liners with the phrase “imagine if men were as disgusted with rape as they were with periods.” ISU F.L.A.M.E. member Rachel Mackinnon initiated the project hoping to make students think about what society values.
ISU F.L.A.M.E. will host its last meeting of the semester on April 21 at 6 p.m. in Rachel Cooper’s second floor lounge. The topic for the meeting will again reflect April as Sexual Assault Awareness month and discuss rape culture as it affects the everyday lives of students.
ISU F.L.A.M.E. is a registered student organization supported by Illinois State’s Student Counseling Services and women’s and gender studies program. For more information on ISU F.L.A.M.E., visit its Facebook page.