The Clothesline Project: Domestic violence awareness

"Silence hides the violence," "You’re weak when you use force," "No more behind the curtains bullshit." These are only a few of the powerful messages written on T-shirts that were put on display at Santa Monica College on Oct. 29.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, SMC’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance Club presented the Clothesline Project to their fellow students.

The program got its start in Cape Cod, Mass. in 1990 as a way for women affected by domestic violence to reveal the horrors and inhumanity of the issue bydecorating a T-shirt and telling their story through words or artwork.

The decorated T-shirts are then hung up on a clothesline to not only bring awareness to the issue, but to let other victims know that they are not alone.

“The societal devaluation of women’s rights and bodies is a contributing factor to the silencing of sexual assault,” said Chandler Le Francis, FMLA club president.

SMC students took part in the project by creating a T-shirt with an original quote advocating domestic violence awareness and women’s rights.

Showcased on the library walkway from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, the T-shirts varied from personal experiences of violence and slogans encouraging those affected to speak out to opinions on equality and political views.

“The clothesline symbolizes how a seemingly serene, picturesque home life can be horrific and scary," said Le Francis. "This is dedicated to the women affected by sexual assault and rape.”

FMLA members helped pin up T-shirts, spoke with participating students about women’s rights and domestic violence, and passed out “Vote as if your life depended on it” pins, “This is what a feminist looks like” stickers, and tampons.

Nursing student Mariela Urbina took a different approach when she wrote "A lady in a uniform is the same as a man in a uniform" on her T-shirt to support women in the armed forces.

"I wanted to bring awareness to the women who have to struggle every day to be accepted as equal and feel they have to prove themselves to the men in the military," she said

The FMLA organization arose on the SMC campus in 2007 and has organized the Clothesline Project ever since.

“There is a lot of misinformation and stereotypes about feminism that discredit it and make it seem like a bad thing,” said FMLA member and neuroscience major, Madeleine Fleming. “When people hear that I’m a feminist, they think I hate men or I’m trying to be better than them, but I just want to bring equality over the sexes.”

The club is dedicated to raising acceptance of social, political, and economic equality through advocacy and activism. With events such as the Clothesline Project, FMLA has brought awareness to women's rights, the perception of feminists, and issues that surround women in the modern society.