What Were You Wearing When You Were Raped?

Women who have been raped and who have been the victims of other sexual violence have long been questioned by “the system” regarding what they were wearing at the time of their assault, as if they were “asking for it” by the clothes that they chose to wear.  A senior at Arcadia University – Katherine Cambareri – sought to answer this question by photographing the clothing worn by college women at the time they were sexually assaulted.

Cambareri explained to USA Today that her motivation for the project stemmed from a book written by noted author Jon Krakauer about sexual assaults at the University of Montana.  Regarding her project, Cambareri told USA Today:

“It really opened my eyes to victim blaming and the questions that survivors of sexual assault are asked (that) protect the perpetrator rather than the victim.”

Images from the project can be seen here.

What Clothing is Shown in the Pictures?

The only remarkable aspect of the pictures is how ordinary the clothing is: blue jeans, sneakers, plain T-shirts, a plaid long-sleeved shirt, and workout shorts.  Certainly there is nothing sexually provocative about the clothing shown.  The clothing is the same type worn by the majority of students in college campuses throughout the US on a daily basis.

Which is exactly the point of Cambareri’s work.

The victims of sexual assault should never be blamed for being assaulted based upon the clothing that they chose to wear – regardless of whether the clothing might be judged to be “provocative.”  The simple fact is that no one gets dressed with the thought of hoping to be raped or sexually assaulted.

Sexual violence is wrong.  Period.

When society accepts this position, we will also be in a much safer position, as those who are the victims of sexual violence will not be afraid to be judged if they come forward and report the crime.  And perpetrators will know that they will be held fully accountable for their actions.


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