This artist created a costume to make a powerful point about rape culture
British artist Sarah Maple is known for pushing the envelope and creating works that really force people to question accepted social norms. Her latest work, “The Anti-Rape Cloak,” is quite possible Maple’s boldest and most important work to date. The costume is exactly what you would imagine, long and black, covering Maple neck to ankle, with the words “Anti-Rape Cloak” emblazoned upon the front. The cloak is using satire to blast apart the sickening (and unfortunately, continuously perpetuated) myth that a rape survivor’s assault has any relationship with what she was wearing at the time of her attack.
“It has always made me really angry how the victims of rape are always made to feel it was their fault, [that] somehow they brought it upon themselves,” Maple told The Huffington Post. “Many women I know have gone through this but never reported it, many made to feel they were ‘making a fuss’ or that they wouldn’t be believed. I was reading Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates and I realized just how universal this belief is — with so many girls being told it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t been wearing that outfit or they hadn’t been in a particular place on their own.”
Maple is definitely using “The Anti-Rape Cloak” to start a conversation about the objectification and oversexualization of women.
“It’s very odd that women are encouraged to be sexy. We are told constantly by the media that our sexiness dictates our value and worth, but then if we dress sexily, we deserve to be raped,” she said. “It’s a contradiction that infuriates me. It is also ridiculous to think that a bit of flesh makes men uncontrollable animals who must have sex right away! It’s a damaging idea for men and women!”
And she’s big-time commenting on the falsehood that a woman’s dress and behavior can ever be inviting assault.
“People should be able to wear whatever they like without the fear of being raped,” Maple said. “So by wearing a garment from head to toe, I am now completely safe from rape in any place, anywhere, any context. I am no longer ‘asking for it.'”
And what does she hope people will take away from “The Anti-Rape Cloak”?
“No one is ever asking for it. We shouldn’t be asking women to cover up, we should be educating people about consent. It feels like the issue is pressed onto women and how they can avoid this situation when there should be more focus on the perpetrator.”
Maple’s project is part of a two-week long series of “trouble-making” events called “The Art of Nuisance,” which, as Maple explains “”…is all about making a noise and not being silenced, like the suffragettes did! We hope the whole exhibition with inspire people to get active, speak out and make some noise!”
Long may Maple and her powerful, thought-provoking, trouble-making art reign. To check out more shots of “The Anti-Rape Cloak,” check out the HuffPo piece on the work, and to see more of Maple’s art magic, head on over to her website.