Women Against Violence Against Women launches campaign targeting rape myths at Vancouver Fashion Week
Women Against Violence Against Women has launched a campaign to coincide with Vancouver Fashion Week, targeting how fashion is used as a justification for sexual assault and rape. “It’s Fashion. Not Justification for Rape” will play every half hour at the Chinese Cultural Centre (50 East Pender Street), where all VFW fashion shows will be held, from Tuesday to Sunday (September 18 to 23).
“The campaign speaks directly to attitudes and perceptions that are upheld by our society through the media, through TV, through court systems, and everyday conversations that actually shame and blame women for sexual assault based on what they’re wearing,” Irene Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer, executive director at WAVAW told the Straight in a phone interview.
The slideshow will include images of clothing items that are often included in victim-blaming: miniskirts, dresses, high heel, tight shirts, and lipstick.
“Just this year, there was a study [commissioned by the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters] conducted in Alberta that revealed that 40 percent of men thought when a woman wears provocative clothing, she’s putting herself at risk for rape,” Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer said. “You would think that we’ve come to a place where we don’t use rape myths like that, but this study shows us how backward our thinking is. No one asks to be raped ever.”
While this is WAVAW’s first collaboration with Vancouver Fashion Week, the local women’s organization and rape crisis centre has participated in SlutWalk Vancouver the past two years. WAVAW has been assisting Lower Mainland women affected by sexual assault and rape for 30 years, and sees VFW as another opportunity to address an important issue.
“At WAVA, we just don’t want to heal women from the impact of sexual assault and then let them step outside into this world that hurts them again,” Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer said. “We feel that public education to change our ideas and shift our attitudes and perceptions that actually harm women and contributes to violence against women is really important to us.”
You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.