Daily 49er

The Clothesline Project opens dialogue about assault at CSULB

Students were invited to share their experiences as well as acknowledge the experiences of other victims.

Painted+T-shirts+line+the+trees+along+the+Friendship+Walk+Wednesday+Afternoon+as+part+The+Clothesline+Project%2C+hosted+by+the+Young+Women%E2%80%99s+Christian+Association.+The+T-shirts+were+hung+by+victims+of+sexual+or+gender-based+violence+to+metaphorically+%E2%80%9Cair+your+dirty+laundry.%E2%80%9D
Painted T-shirts line the trees along the Friendship Walk Wednesday Afternoon as part The Clothesline Project, hosted by the Young Women’s Christian Association. The T-shirts were hung by victims of sexual or gender-based violence to metaphorically “air your dirty laundry.”

Painted T-shirts line the trees along the Friendship Walk Wednesday Afternoon as part The Clothesline Project, hosted by the Young Women’s Christian Association. The T-shirts were hung by victims of sexual or gender-based violence to metaphorically “air your dirty laundry.”

Hunter Lee

Hunter Lee

Painted T-shirts line the trees along the Friendship Walk Wednesday Afternoon as part The Clothesline Project, hosted by the Young Women’s Christian Association. The T-shirts were hung by victims of sexual or gender-based violence to metaphorically “air your dirty laundry.”

Sabrina Flores, Assistant Photo Editor

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Bright shirts pinned to clotheslines billowed in the wind, catching the eyes of students passing by the Friendship Walk at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The vibrant colors created a juxtaposition with the severity of their messages — to start a conversation about gender-based and sexual violence.

The Clothesline Project was brought to Cal State Long Beach by Young Women’s Christian Association, the Greater Los Angeles Sexual Assault and Crisis Services and the Women’s Gender and Equity Center. The clothes hanging were meant to represent survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Only a couple of yards away from the clothesline, Jose Espinoza and Andres Cortez stood silently holding pro-life posters, the only participants of a “Pro-Life Walkout” scheduled at the same time and same area as the Clothesline Project. The protestors declined to comment.   

According to Pam Rayburn, coordinator for the Women’s and Gender Equity Center, the event is staged every year for victims of assault to reclaim their voice.

“The Clothesline Project…is a display of people who have been affected by a gender-based violence and sexual assault,” Rayburn said. “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and that’s why we bring this to campus. ”

According to Jacqueline Urtez, a sexual assault victim’s advocate for the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, the shirts are recycled from previous years, but that does not detract from the impact or message behind the display.

“It’s an opportunity, in a sense, to air out the dirty laundry, remove the stigma of not being able to discuss these issues in public,” Urtez said. “It’s kind of symbolic breaking the silence regarding the issues, and so, it’s an opportunity to also bring awareness to campus and just be able to honor survivors and their stories in a unique way.”

Students stopped to observe; some even pulled up a chair, grabbed a colored shirt, an assortment of puffy paint and set to work creating their own T-shirts to add to the clotheslines hanging overhead.

“I came to the Clothesline project to support…I personally know family members and friends who have been victims to domestic assault, sexual assault,” Diamond Swoope said, a junior
creative writing major. “And it was a meaningful thing to come out, even therapeutic in a way to write down and say what they had to experience. This was a wonderful event to [give] students a safe space to come out and discuss if this has happened to them or somebody they knew.”

Swoope said that sexual and gender-based violence incidents are typically overlooked or are kept secret due to stigmatization or attempts to justify an abuser’s actions.

For other students who stopped by the resource and T-shirt making booths, the topic hit even closer to home.

“It’s good to know you’re not alone,” said Greg Zamora, a senior majoring in journalism. “It definitely helps alleviate the stigma, I don’t think it completely eliminates it, because I don’t think the stigma will ever be completed eliminated, but…people will see and people will recognize it, they will acknowledge it.”

 

Adriana Ramirez contributed to this article.

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