Am I Asking For It?

I have grown tired of tempering my behavior and my aesthetic choices in order to guarantee that I am treated with dignity.

I know that I am not alone in this sentiment.

This first prototype of Am I Asking For It? was created using an Arduino Uno, an LCD screen and a Maxbotix proximity sensor. I fashioned a garment out of various materials to hold the microprocessor and sensor. When a person approaches the wearer of the garment, the message displayed on the LCD screen will change. The screen will ask, “Am I asking for it?” until someone approaches within 5 feet of the wearer. The screen will then change to say, “Do you hear me asking for it?” Finally, when someone approaches the within 2 feet, the screen asks, “When did I ask for it?”

The premise of this project is to explore the erroneous statement of “She was asking for it.” Unless a woman explicitly asks for something, she is not asking for it. Throughout my life, I have been told to be careful about how I dress, as I would not want to make my fellow brother stumble. It is insulting to men to claim that they are so weak that they lack the ability to be accountable for their own actions. The notion that it is my responsibility to manage how others view and treat me has been deeply ingrained in my subconscious, my behavior and my view of myself. It has been an eternally long and painful road towards perpetually grappling with accepting that I was not responsible for the violences committed against me. This project is an act of defiance. Am I Asking For It? defies all of the restraints and obligations placed upon women to ensure that they do not cause themselves to be harassed, assaulted, abused or raped.

The garment is sexy and reminiscent of a stripper’s garment. Traditionally, the implications of this garment would assert that the wearer is to be treated as an object and that she can be owned with a certain price payed. I am using these preexisting notions to compel the viewer to question their own preconceptions in regards to the correlation between a woman’s clothing choices and the level of respect they allot to her. The garment hosts a variety of grotesque and flamboyant attributes that enhances the piece with supersaturation and a component of absurdity. How someone dresses and acts should never remove their rights to be safe from sexual violence or be seen as an encouragement to be harassed, assaulted, abused or raped.

Am I Asking For It? aims to provoke reflection on women’s rights, men’s responsibility and consent. The project acts as a confrontation to deeply ingrained prejudices and intends to challenge the preconceptions of those who come into contact with it.