“What Were You Wearing?”: Putting Sexual Harassment at the Forefront of Conversation


Brenda Ordonez, Reporter

“…I went to the bar top with someone I had just met, when he reached out and put his hand on my breast. I pushed it off me and told him that was never going to happen again. I told my friends about it, but they told me not to make a big deal about itTwo weeks later I heard he had hurt two other women on this campus. I felt like I was to blame because I didn’t speak up sooner.” Junior Hannah Koniar recalls this event in which she not only experienced being sexually harassed firsthand, but also the back lash of survivor’s guilt. This has since ignited a fire in Koniar, and pushed her to become an advocate for sexual assault survivors. 

Koniar and her close friend, junior Grace Howe, have now banded together to create an exhibit that puts an especially silenced topic at the forefront of conversation. This exhibit is called, “What Were You Wearing?”  

Its purpose is to, “show the people that it’s not about what someone was wearing that provoked a sexual assault to happen,” says Howe. She continues, “it’s going to be cool to see when people come to see our exhibit because our stories range from 6-year old’s wearing a bathing suit to people wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt.” The clothes and stories that will be exhibited will be raw and personal. This is to “end the stigma of ‘survivor shame’ which discourages others from wanting to come forward,” says Howe.  

The stories vary from age and even gender. This exhibit is meant for both men and women of all ages as sexual harassment has no gender or age restrictions. Anyone can be a victim. Finding survivors to come forward and share their story as well as their clothing to the public was a difficult task for both Koniar and Howe. By putting up a post on Facebook asking for survivors to come forward and share their story, with the opportunity to do it anonymously, they were able gather enough stories to create the exhibit.   

“What Were You Wearing?” will run April 15-18, in the Sabre Cave at Marian University. It will be open to students as well as the Fond du Lac community. The grand opening of “What Were You Wearing” will take place on Monday April 15. President Manion will attend the opening event and cookies and refreshments will be provided. 

According to the National Violence Resource center, “in the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.” These men and these women could be “…your friend, sibling, roommate, role model. It could be anyone” Koniar says while adding, “if you see something say something, don’t wait.”