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'What Were You Wearing?' Exhibit Tackles Sexual Assault Victim Blaming

By Patty Wetli | February 16, 2017 5:29am
 A powerful new exhibit uses photos of clothing worn by assault survivors to challenge misconceptions.
A powerful new exhibit uses photos of clothing worn by assault survivors to challenge misconceptions.
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Katherine Cambareri

RAVENSWOOD — A powerful new photo exhibit takes aim at one of the most persistent fallacies associated with sexual assault — that a victim's presumably revealing clothing somehow provoked the attack.

"Well, What Were You Wearing?" poses the question commonly asked of victims, and features stark images of the actual T-shirts, flannels, blue jeans and sweats worn by women when they were attacked.

The show's opening reception will be held 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday at the Awakenings Foundation gallery, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave., Suite 204C.

"It is more important now than ever to show survivors that we hear, see and believe them," gallery manager Liz Moretti said in a statement.

The exhibit grew out of photographer Katherine Cambareri's thesis project when she was a student at Pennsylvania's Arcadia University.

"As a photographer, I realize I have the potential to get people talking about uncomfortable topics by creating images to start conversations," Cambareri said on her website.

The photos in the exhibit demonstrate "that there is no type of clothing that causes assaults to occur. There is no size. There is no body type," she said.

"Sexual assault never occurs because of what a person is wearing; the only reason sexual assault occurs is because a person assaults someone else," Cambareri said.

"Well, What Were You Wearing?" runs through May 31.

The Awakenings Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "make visible the artistic expression of survivors of sexual violence."

The gallery's most recent exhibit, "Graphic Relief," tackled the topic of street harassment.