Texas Tech art exhibit combats common rape myth

Exhibit brings awareness to sexual assault

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - One in three women and one in six men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

“What are you wearing, Lubbock?” was created to combat the myth that what someone is wearing can cause them to be assaulted, and challenges viewers to engage with this question in an entirely new way.

It’s inspired by a poem by Mary Simmerling, who describes what she was wearing during her assault and questions why nobody asked what her rapist was wearing.

“What you were wearing literally does not matter, and that question is always asked of survivors by either police or investigators when they come forward with their story.”

Ashley Rose Marino said that question is something survivors have dealt with for decades, so she asked the Lubbock community what they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted.

“We got an amazing response, I thought we were going to get like five or six people and that was going to be it, but we ended up getting 64 responses,” Marino said.

With the responses, she created a gallery of outfits to display exactly what people were wearing when they were assaulted and show that it does not make a difference.

“You can either picture yourself in that outfit, someone you know, someone like your neighbor, your son’s teacher, anything like that,” Marino said.

Brittany Todd, the director of Risk Intervention and Safety Education (RISE) at Texas Tech said her hope is that the exhibit empowers survivors to heal.

“They can see this and know that they are not alone, that they are supported, they are believed and that what they were wearing when they were assaulted does not matter,” Todd said.

She also hopes it shows people in Lubbock the harsh realities of sexual assault around them.

“We know how diverse the experiences are when it comes to sexual violence, but I think when you see it physically in this space like this, it’s really powerful and really meaningful and it makes it personal and real,” Todd said.

“If you point out any one of these outfits in here I can tell you the story. I can, like these stories are in my heart, they’re a part of me now, and it’s really difficult but really rewarding to be a part of that,” Marino said.

The exhibit will be open through June 2.

Marino and Todd worse denim for Denim Day, an event each year on April 24 that encourages people to wear denim to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault. The day was created after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a 1998 conviction because the victim wore tight jeans.

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