Sexual assault is rarely about the perpetrator, but about the victim. What they were wearing, what they were eating or drinking, all of that suddenly becomes relevant. It's no wonder that most victims of sexual assault don't report the attacks. To question this victim blaming, Arcadia University's photography major Katherine Cambareri decided to document what people were wearing when they were sexually assaulted.
Cambareri spoke to us to discuss her project. Well, What Were You Wearing? started off as a year-long thesis project for her senior year. “I've had an interest in women's health but over the summer, I read Missoula by Jon Krakauer, which really got me heated about how unfairly sexual assault cases are handled. The book really opened my eyes to victim-blaming and the questions that survivors of sexual assault are asked, such as, "What were you wearing?" which are asked to protect the perpetrator rather than the victim,” she said.
Cambareri then set out to make her project a reality. “I made several Facebook statuses asking for people to let me borrow clothing that was worn at the time of a sexual assault. Only females volunteered, but I plan on continuing this project and I would love for males to participate as well. This project began with five participants, but like I said, I plan on continuing this project and hope to get more people involved.”
“I hope that victims of sexual assault realize that there are people in this world who do not victim-blame and that are fighting for them. I also hope they realize that they are not alone in being asked such ridiculous questions and that they are not to be blamed and that what happened is never their fault,” Cambareri says.
Cambareri's photo project completely decimates the notion that women wear only revealing clothes when they have been sexually assaulted. As she says, “Sexual assault only ever occurs because one person decides to assault another person, and for no other reason.”