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Interview With Katherine Cambareri, Creator of "Well, what was she wearing?"

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Interview With Katherine Cambareri, Creator of "Well, what was she wearing?" Photo

by Kelsey Duchesne | 05/26/2016

"Well, what were you wearing?"

For many women, the question of what they are wearing comes immediately after the horrific experience of being raped. The question itself is degrading and irrelevant all together, as it insinuates that the victim has worn/done something to warrant their attack (which, obviously- no.)

Photographer Katherine Cambareri crested her senior thesis project around this question, and photographed the clothes that victims wore during their attack. The project aims (and succeeds) to debunk the stigma that women who are raped are often wearing clothing believed to be promiscuous, and that clothing itself is an actual factor in being raped. We spoke to Katherine about her project, it's purpose, and the response it's received. 

What inspired you to create the photography series  "Well, What Were You Wearing?" 

I recently read Missoula written by Jon Krakauer, which really got me heated about how unfairly sexual assault cases are handled. This book really opened my eyes to victim blaming and the questions victims are asked, such as if they were drinking and what they were wearing at the time the assault occurred. Questions like this are asked to protect the perpetrator rather than the victim. I find it asinine that survivors are sometimes blamed before they even have the chance to tell their stories. I wanted to do something to prove how unnecessary these victim-blaming type questions are.

Were the sexual assault survivors open and willing to take part in the project?

Anyone who has been involved in my project has willingly volunteered, and more people have volunteered since this project has gained publicity.

Did anything about the project surprise you as it was coming together?

Most of the surprises came after articles started to be written, because I learned that sexual assault is an worldwide problem and it needs more attention everywhere. 

Did you have any apprehensions about completing this process? 

I was afraid that I was asking too much of people and that no one would want to volunteer.

What do you hope viewers will gain or learn from your series?

I hope viewers realize that victim blaming exists and that they can help to end it by listening to survivors of sexual assault and keep discussions going on this topic.

Do you hope or plan to do more work that breaks stigma or taboo? 

I am continuing this project currently because it has had such a positive response. Every "thank you" I get makes me want to work harder and raise more awareness. I'm not sure if I'll do other projects to break stigma - right now I'm still so focused on this year!

What's up next for you? 

I recently graduated from Arcadia University with a major in Photography and a minor in Global Public Health. I'm taking a gap year before heading to grad school for public health, where I hope to work with and help many other people!


by Kelsey Duchesne

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