Silent No More, We're Hanging out Our Dirty Laundry: The South Africa Clothesline Project

By Lempert, Lora Bex; Skorge, Synnov | Women in Action, December 2002 | Go to article overview

Silent No More, We're Hanging out Our Dirty Laundry: The South Africa Clothesline Project


Lempert, Lora Bex, Skorge, Synnov, Women in Action


Mom's spirit was killed long before Dad executed her.

Ndoda Ndini Ungeva Kanjani Inguwe lo Udlewenguliweyo (How would you men feel if you were raped?)

MisDaad meet hok Geslaan Word. (Violence must be stopped.)

He raped me. Nobody can take that pain out of my heart and soul.

These messages and hundreds of other messages were written, and drawn on the 'canvas' of ordinary t-shirts and hung on South Africa's inaugural Clothesline on 26 November 2001 on Robben Island, the site of Nelson Mandela's long imprisonment and now a national historical site and museum.

The Clothesline Project is a public display of individually created t-shirts that illustrate, with words, colours or symbols, women's personal stories of their experiences of violence (Foley 1995). Each T-shirt honours, respects, and recognises one woman's courage in facing experience(s) of violence--rape, incest, abuse, harassment, murder, intimidation, and/or torture--in a medium that provides public exposure while guaranteeing distance and safety.

The original Clothesline Project began in 1990 in Hyannis, Massachusetts in the United States. It was inspired by an artist in a display of shirts at a "Take Back the Night Rally" (Foley 1995). Since then the project has become both national and international, with hundreds of locally organised projects in the United States and other nations displaying thousands of t-shirts (U.S. National Clothesline Project flyer, undated).

The U.S. Clothesline was built around a double metaphor: "Doing the laundry has always been considered women's work, and in the days of close-knit neighbourhoods, women often exchanged information over backyard fences while hanging their clothes out to dry. The concept [of the Clothesline Project] was simple--let each woman tell her own story, in her own unique way, and hang it out for all to see. It was and is a way of airing society's dirty laundry." (Carol Chichetto, U.S. National Clothesline Project flyer October 1994).

The South Africa Clothesline debut on Robben Island provided the backdrop for the launch of the Justice for Women campaign. Sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and the National Network on Violence Against Women, the Justice for Women campaign is a public appeal to President Mbeki for the pardon or sentence reduction of abused women who have killed their husbands. Following the Justice for Women launch, the Clothesline also marked multiple events in the 16 Days of Activism, an annual international event (25 November-10 December) intended to create a worldwide movement that raises awareness of gender-based violence as a human rights issue and calls for the elimination of such violence.

Inaugurating South Africa Clothesline Project

Within a few weeks, news headlines in urban areas chronicled the scope of violence against South African women. A Grooto Schuur Hospital medical academic announced that the yearly incidence of rape in South Africa now exceeds that of tuberculosis; the rape of schoolgirls by teachers, peers and gangs was documented by both the Human Rights Watch and an Eastern Cape provincial investigating committee; a report by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation argued that violence against women and HIV/AIDS may be converging in new and lethal ways--even as Jackie Selebi, National Police Commissioner, pronounced the Domestic Violence Act to protect women "unimplementable" While there has been ample evidence of women's victimisation--child rape, schoolgirl assault, sexual harassment, wife battering, abuse of older women--and a long history of feminist interpretation and activism surrounding gender inequality and the social privileges that sustain men's violence, the messages were obviously not getting through to those with the power of enforcement and prevention.

During informal discussions with local NGOs, Lora Lempert raised and introduced the U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Silent No More, We're Hanging out Our Dirty Laundry: The South Africa Clothesline Project
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.