What Were You Wearing?

Taylor Watts (Writer)


What Were You Wearing? is an exhibit put on by Oklahoma State University’s 1is2many, which is a group on campus that teaches our university about sexual violence prevention and is a safe place for people to speak up about their experiences. The display What Were You Wearing? features clothes and outfits that victims were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. 1is2many asks students and faculty members to submit their story, if they are comfortable, and then works closely with Thrifty Butterfly, a thrift store that raises funds for Wings of Hope Family Crisis Services, to recreate these outfits to show the differences in these clothes.

Many times when someone is sexually assaulted, the first thing the victim is asked is, what were you wearing when you were assaulted? By saying this, the blame is automatically put on the victim and not the perpetrator by insinuating that the assault might not have happened had the victim been wearing a different outfit. The thing I think students find most interesting about What Were You Wearing? is that there are hardly any repeats of an outfit. Majority of the outfits that 1is2many displays for this event are very different and mostly conservative. Most people tend to assume that someone was assaulted because they were wearing a short skirt or shorter shorts, but 1is2many really displays that you can be assaulted in any form of outfit. The items on display range from turtlenecks, flannels, swimsuits, shorts, jeans, dresses, leggings, and pretty much any other outfit you can think of. This just shows that it truly does not matter what you were wearing, all that matters is that you get the help you are seeking.

While the clothes are on display for only one week, 1is2many organizes an event welcoming guest speakers to register and attend to speak on their own assault to let others know they are not alone and that it is not their fault. Some of these members are students, faculty, or even members of 1is2many themselves. These stories are provided to raise awareness in the fact that it truly does not matter what you were wearing, because you are not to blame for your assault.

I think the best thing about What Were You Wearing? is that if students see other people opening up about their stories, it makes it easier for them to share theirs. By opening up this discussion, it makes people feel included and seeing an outfit similar to theirs, it makes them feel represented in knowing someone else went through the same experience they did, and made it through. The most important lesson from What You Were Wearing? is that it does not matter what you were wearing. I think 1is2many really highlights that in their week long display by showing the many different types of outfits. 1is2many encourages students to report any and all incidents. If you would like to report an incident please visit studentconduct.okstate.edu

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