"She Was Asking For It", a series based on the common belief that a woman's way of dressing provokes sexual aggression in males — a form of removing the blame from the attacker to the victim.
This series is a visual catalog of personal items that depicts the vast range of sex victims. These items are displayed to confront the idea that articles of clothing merit and consent sexual abuse. Some items have been seen as "provocation" while other items are a seen as a sign of "weakness" by sexual attackers. The belief that "provocative" clothing conveys consent wrongly assumes that the only women who are targets of sexual assault are those who wear revealing clothing. In fact, in many cases, females who are victims of rape are those who wear body-concealing clothing because they are seen as passive and submissive.
Under this belief it is also assumed that women must cater to male pleasure. Those who oppose are often labeled as undesirable, damaged, sexually frustrated or gay. Society also encourages the idea that to be "silent" is "modest", 'lady-like" and "knowing your place." Victims who speak out and stand up for themselves are questioned, and it is many times assumed that they "did something" to deserve the abuse.
Often victims are blamed for the sexual harassment or sexual abuse by individuals or institutions whom the victims turn to for help, known as secondary victimization. Victim blaming and inappropriate post-trauma language or behavior by loved ones or medical personnel is especially common in cases that are a result of statutory rape and drug related abuse. This further instills fear, self hate and invalidates the abusive experience of the victims, many of which often suffer abuse again.
The color Pink was the only color used in this series because it is very strongly associated with girls and women. Pink is commonly used as a gender identifier for females. As such, many words used to describe pink have been associated and transferred on to women. Pink is to female as sensitivity is to emotional, tenderness is to weakness, childhood is to naivety, and pretty is to sexual. These associations have further added to the universal confusion women struggle with and what role they are meant to play.
As a society it is crucial that we show support to the victims of sexual abuse and discourage the behaviors and languages that perpetuate violence against women and continue to blame the victim rather than the attacker. This series is my way of speaking up for the voiceless victims, those that hide in fear for speaking up against their attacker, those afraid to be blamed for their own abuse, and those who have spoken up but have been silenced. This series is standing up against the belief that those attacked were "asking for it." The idea that one's clothing is enough to justify these crimes is degrading to women and clearly shows whose side society is on. One in three women have been victims of sexual abuse, it's time to change those numbers.