I Did Not Ask For It

Inspired by the women’s dirty laundry project in India and the Clothesline Project in the USA, we started an “I Did Not Ask For It” campaign here in the UK. The idea was to provide a creative way for women to bear witness to male violence. We created an I Did Not Ask For It blogsite of images, but ultimately we wanted to make a public installation.

The ReSisters group started a related project to “celebrate the ingenuity, wit, courage, resilience and strength of women who routinely resist violence” by collecting their stories, which are published on their Women Resisting Violence blogsite.

I was wearing these clothes when I was harrassed on my way to work. I was passing an Ann Summers store that had some very provocative black bondage-style underwear in the window, when a man accosted me, laughing and shouting and indicating how fun it would be to see me in the aforementioned undergarments. He followed me shouting loudly until he spotted another victim.

We asked women across the country to send in a photo or painting of a garment or the garment itself, which you were wearing (or is similar to what you were wearing) when you were sexually harassed or assaulted. Use your creativity to mark the garment in some way. For example, you could write “I Did Not Ask For It” in marker pen or fabric paint on a t-shirt, or embroider “I Did Not Ask For It” onto a vest, or draw, paint or digitally design the message “I Did Not Ask For It” on paper and photograph that message on or pinned to a dress or pair of jeans. The possibilities are endless. Feel free to add to the message “I Did Not Ask For It” with further words, pictures or images of your choice.

The whole point was to highlight that male violence and harrasment is about male power and not about what women wear or drink or do or where we go. This will be made visual because the garments will obviously range from boiler suits to short skirts. We realise this is a sensitive subject, but we want to air these issues in public – because the shame is not ours. So let’s hang the washing out to dry and shame all those men who view our bodies as public property.