This project is dedicated to all human beings.
A while ago Carmen made a post in my university’s Facebook group about a coat she wanted to lend out. She said that she does not dare to wear it anymore because she was sexually harassed in it and would really like someone else to wear it and make better memories in it. Shortly after, I contacted Carmen and I asked her if she would be interested in doing a photoshoot while wearing the coat, as a way of reclaiming the power and confidence she felt while wearing it before the incident. She agreed and we also opened it up to other women from our university that have had a similar experience with a piece of clothing. In the next few days I will be sharing the photos with you.
Throughout my work, I have focused a lot on clothing and fashion, mostly just playing around with different styles and trends and adapting them to my aesthetic.
However, with this project I want to focus on the people within the clothing and the significance of the garment itself. Sometimes we tend to avoid the reason we don’t wear our favorite clothes, or clothes that just make us happy because we know that the memories attached to them might come back. In this case it’s memories of sexual harassment, of people not knowing how to respect another human being and keep their hands and thoughts to themselves. This project is about the strong, powerful, resilient human beings that have been and continue to go through this shit every day. The amount of stories I’ve heard and incidents I’ve experienced are too many to write down. Do your research, listen to each other and most importantly be kind to each other.
In the media and in our every day lives we speak and hear about sexual harassment towards cis heterosexual women. This leads to the exclusion of other marginalized groups for which society has failed to provide safe spaces to be able to get help and heal.
We all have a comfort zone so when I started this project I decided to stay within those walls to be able to launch something that I knew I was able to support and do respectfully. However it was time to take a step further.
This is Sel (He,They,She).
A while ago we had a conversation about the violence that surrounds gender based harassment and its relation to clothing. Here are the main points of our discussion as heard from Sel’s perspective:
“Gender based harassment sucks, it sucks on a whole different level when you're fighting to be perceived as your true self and then a man says something to you that's inappropriate in the street and suddenly you're hit by this weird feeling. It's a double whammy, because you think, oh, I'm being perceived as a woman, especially if they use very gendered terms like lady or girl or whatever. And, it just feels like you have to not only grapple with the gender based harassment, which sucks, but also with this weird, incongruent feeling that maybe it’s imposter syndrome of, “I'm not a woman”, you know. I’m not a woman, but I'm still finding myself in this situation of being perceived as a woman. And it doesn't stop the fact that I'm the subject of violence in this moment, whether or not I'm a woman”.
This violence usually starts because of people’s associations to what makes this arbitrary notion of a woman. And our clothes play a big factor in that. “When I'm in these situations, I do have to consider what I'm wearing, and I guess it's similar for people who are women and girls. They're wearing clothes that are often represented as fragile or dangerous or something that will get you into trouble, right?” “I do find myself wearing clothes that are seen as, you know, feminine or sold for women or whatever the case may be. And so in those moments, I have to fight the power of the cis gaze that defines my identity through the way that I present”.
“You know, for me, it's a very violent experience because it ties the identity that you are trying to dissociate from, back to this idea of violence, and it only makes you more alienated really from the concept of womanhood. If you couldn't be already more alienated in my case. It's hard to speak about violence in these moments for AFAB (assigned female at birth) people. All the time, you're grouped under the category of woman when you start speaking about these things or whenever people talk about sexual assault, it's always about women and protecting women and protecting girls.”