"This Is What I Wore When I Was Raped": Why You Need To See This Powerful Exhibition

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Dear world, it's time to put an end to victim blaming once and for all.

"But what was she wearing?" "If she didn't dress like a slut, it wouldn't have happened." "She was totally asking for it."

Sounds familiar? Even though it's 2018 and feminism has hit the mainstream, people still continue to blame victims. When you think almost all your friends are woke, it's more than a tad unnerving when you come across people who still think this way. It's even worse when you discover that even some of the people you care about still hold onto these toxic views.

That's why the #RespetoNaman and #DontTellMeHowToDress movements are more timely than ever. Rape culture is very much a problem, and educating people is the first step to making things right.

What is 'Don't Tell Me How To Dress'?

Thai-American model, actress, and TV personality Cindy Sirinya Bishop is the brains behind the Don't Tell Me How to Dress movement. Earlier this year, the Thai government told women to cover up to avoid being sexually harassed during the Songkran festival, and obviously, that didn't sit well with Thai women.

“Women have the right to dress however we choose, as long as it’s not illegal. Sexual assault and harassment is never the woman’s fault!" she said in an Instagram video. "Tell men to keep their hands to themselves."

This sparked a social movement that has grown far beyond the internet. Bishop has mounted self-defense classes, empowerment workshops, and forums on consent, to name a few.

In June 2018, Bishop launched the Don't Tell Me How To Dress exhibition. The exhibition features works depicting the social stigma against women's sexuality, as well as quotes from prominent figures in Thai society speaking out on the issue. But the most powerful parts of the exhibition are the displays of of the actual clothing that the victims wore when they were raped.

Enter #RespetoNaman

The Don't Tell Me How To Dress exhibition is crossing borders in November 2018 by making its way from Thailand to the Philippines, as part of the Respeto Naman campaign. (Respeto naman's loose translation: "FFS, give some respect") The exhibition will feature Filipino voices and stories.

A project of Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, UN Women, The Embassy of Sweden in Manila, Spark! Philippines, and Empower, Respeto Naman aims to "spark a sustainable movement across the nation to eliminate all forms  of gender-based violence in the Philippines".

Here are Respeto Naman's upcoming events

Nov 25: Don't Tell Me How To Dress Exhibition Launch

To join the programme for the exhibition and participate in the event's activities, come to the Power Plant Mall on 5 to 6pm. Cindy Bishop will be speaking, as well as Carla Silbert of UN Women, among others. The exhibition will be up until December 1.

Nov 28, 29: Respeto Naman public forums

On the 28th, speakers like Walang Rape sa Bontok [Bontok, Rapeless] writer and director Carla Ocampo, Maritina Romulo of Empower, and Councillor Mayen Juico will be conducting talks at the Francisco Santiago Hall, BDO South Tower, Makati from 5:30 to 8pm.

And on the 29th, the Ateneo de Manila University will be hosting a university forum at Leong Hall from 8am to 12pm. Empower founder Kat Alano, Senator Risa Hontiveros, and other personalities will be speaking about the #RespetoNaman movement.

The United Nations marks the 25th of every month as Orange Day to remember the need for a violence-free future. Wear orange to the events in solidarity!

(Featured image: The Don't Tell Me How to Dress exhibition in Bangkok, from @donttellmehowtodress on Instagram)