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This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me Art Exhibit Attacks False Perceptions
February 23, 2010, Volume 56, No. 23



This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me, which opened at the University of Pennsylvania on February 18, is an art exhibit designed to address the idea that, when a woman is raped, she asked for it, deserved it or wanted it.

The multimedia exhibit explores female body types, intimacy, relationships, fashion, attitudes, psychology, behavior, vulnerability, alternative lifestyles and more through art. Featuring photographs, illustrations, paintings, film, sound and music, the exhibit is at the Fox Art Gallery in Claudia Cohen Hall and The Forum at Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 5.

Co-sponsored by the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence, a part of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me, is a theme that connects artwork by multiple artists from around the globe.

Charles Hall, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter in Richmond, VA., launched This is Not an Invitation to Rape Me as an artistic response to the sexual assault of a close friend in 1993.

“Our goal is to use the exhibit to start a movement that raises awareness, attacks misperceptions and inspires people to talk about rape,” Mr. Hall said. “Other movements have symbols. There’s the red ribbon for AIDS awareness, and there’s the pink ribbon for breast cancer. I hope the iconography we generate around the exhibit can do the same for the silent epidemic of rape.”

Nearly two decades later, This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me has become an international message on behalf of all women.

“From Ghana to Afghanistan, Brazil to Hong Kong and New York to London, women around the world are held responsible for being raped because of the misconception that ‘she must have done something to cause this,’” Susan B. Sorenson, the director of the Ortner Center, said. “This exhibit challenges commonly held beliefs about who is responsible for sexual assault.”

The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence and Women Organized Against Rape.


Related: Update: February AT PENN

Almanac - February 23, 2010, Volume 56, No. 23