geana_sieburgerOn April 17, 2012, I became a citizen of the United States and earned my right to vote. Leading up to this date, I became increasingly aware of my rights and limitations as an immigrant and the stigmas created by those limitations. There were certain privileges—such as voting in presidential elections—in which I had not been allowed to participate and would later in 2012 be able to express my opinion for the first time.

I was empowered! The more I learned about the risks we faced as women in the upcoming election, the more horrified I became. I wondered how deeply my life would be affected if Roe vs. Wade was overturned. Free birth control was so equalizing, it didn’t seem real. Women’s reproductive health choices were so precariously balanced—not in my hands, but in the hands of a government that so fearfully wanted to turn things back to how it was decades ago! In the meantime, slut-shaming caught fire in the news, especially in response to Sandra Fluke’s speech to Democratic members of the House regarding the importance of requiring insurance plans to cover birth control. Simultaneously, Slut Walks were happening all over the world.

In conversations about the word “slut,” all of its meanings and threats, we realized that disassociating from the popular meaning was a crucial point to the empowerment of women. The popular meaning disparages a woman who “looks” promiscuous and completely dismisses a woman who is sexually liberated. The Slut-kerchief Project came to life from these conversations with other women who were equally fed-up with the politics and the low societal bars.

Though I like that this project is open to interpretation, it is safe to say that a slut-kerchief serves as a symbol and reminder that the word slut is just a word. It is the goal of the project to ignite discussions about how fear of being considered a slut or appearing sluttish affects and quiets women in unacknowledged ways.

Please visit slutkerchiefproject.com to meet some of the folks engaging with the project and to learn why they have chosen to be involved.

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Geana Sieburger is a designer, maker, and teacher living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a BFA in Sculpture with a focus in Textiles from California College of Art. Her creations at GDS Cloth Goods–her Oakland design studio–are about utility and beauty that is evoked through process, quality, and simplicity. Sieburger is diligent in engaging in feminist dialogue and projects such as the Slut-kerchief Project that raise awareness on issues relating to women’s rights and social freedoms.

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