Frat Guys Are Being Typically Douchey About This Artist’s Photo Series

Violet Overn’s latest photo series, “Fraternity House,” which comments on issues of campus consent, has been ruffling the feathers of some typically douchey frat guys.

The photos center on Violet, passed out in the backyard of a fraternity house, chillingly alone. She’s surrounded by red cups and other post-party trash that was all found at the scene.

Obviously, Violet didn’t ask the fraternities if she could take photos of her passed out in their backyard, and they’re not too happy about it. Violet has received angry comments on her Instagram posts of the photos, and believe it or not, this is exactly what she’s wanted all along.

“The way people respond is proving my point. I’ve gotten negative feedback, all from men in fraternities, and at the beginning before any article came out about my series, I never mentioned the words sexual assault. My only caption was ‘Another photo of me laying down on fraternity house lawns,'” Violet tells Galore.

But without mentioning campus consent or rape, Violet explains that the angry commenters have started defending themselves without anybody provoking them.

“I got backlash from a few fraternity brothers about me generalizing all fraternities, calling all of them rapists. They were projecting onto my work, creating a dialogue on their own, talking about their own insecurities… when, in fact, I had never mentioned those terms,” says Violet.

As you’d expect, the commenters defended their honor by announcing their charity work, even though fraternity men are required to do both of these things in order to stay in their chapter.

“It doesn’t matter how much volunteering you did, or the charity money your fraternity has given, you are still telling a female artist to shut up and to stop talking about important issues within the institution you are a part of,” says Violet. “On the other hand, I have received countless e-mails and messages from women who have been assaulted or have been in sororities thanking me for my work and for giving them a voice.”

Violet chose to stage these photos at The University of Southern California, where a football player is currently undergoing rape accusations, and where mishandling of assault victims have previously been reported.

“The most specific answer I can give about my inspiration for this project is the recent Stanford case,” says Violet. “I was appalled at the way the media was portraying Brock Turner, showing flattering photos, giving him the benefit of the doubt, along with privileged treatment throughout the criminal justice system, an extremely light county jail sentence, and now even being released early on ‘good behavior.'”

Violet has also created this series in response to her personal experience with sexual assault survivors in hopes of giving victims a voice.

“I wanted to start a conversation, to start a dialogue, and to give a voice to victims who have been forgotten or silenced,” says Violet. “I wanted to make the camera a witness, make the photographs look like a crime scene documentation, providing accountability where otherwise there would never have been any because nobody was there to see it.”

But aside from fraternity boys trolling Instagram, Violet has also noticed something interesting about art critics responding to female artists.

“I’ve noticed this thinning line between activism and art,” says Violet. “People aren’t writing about my piece as if it is artwork or responding to my piece as if it is artwork. It is being critiqued as activism. Women artists, and women in general, always have to legitimize what they’re doing, go through long explanations to prove that what they’re doing is necessary. Men don’t have to deal with that, but we are constantly having to defend the validity of our work, of our art. My work is to provoke, to make us think twice about our choices, and to start and continue an important conversation.”

All photos by Violet Overn

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