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Rape is a huge problem in South Africa.

According to the United Nations, South Africa has the highest rates of rapes in the world.

Photo by Zeno Petersen. All photos used with permission.


Despite the progress made post-apartheid, such as interracial marriage and same-sex marriage, dismantling toxic masculinity and destroying rape culture still has a long way to go.

That's why people started hanging undergarments in the streets of Johannesburg.

It's not only a direct call for change — it's also an example of South African values and progress.  

Creators Jenny Nijenhuis and Nondumiso Msimanga stand with their exhibition. Photo by Zeno Petersen.

Using donated pairs of panties through the #SasDirtyLaundry hashtag, a Facebook page, and collection centers across Johannesburg, Jenny Nijenhuis and Nondumiso Msimanga created a 4,000-foot-long washing line installation that displayed 3,600 pairs of panties, the approximate number of rapes that occur on a daily basis.

Eloquently called “SA’s Dirty Laundry,” the exhibit has taken the city by storm.    

“I had been feeling like we live in a world gone crazy, there is so much turmoil, hurt, disconnect and lack of self-love,” Nijenhuis writes in an email. “I felt powerless and unable to do anything about it. Then I realized that we can do something about it without reaffirming the status quo. I approached Nondumiso and asked her if she would work with me in saying something, as women, as human beings, as people who’ve been given a gift. So we started a journey together, we decided to be that change. To encourage other women [and] other people to join us and start a revolution without the need to revolt.”  

Photo by Brett Skolmen.

To bring people together, the artists took an idea from Ram Dass’ "Be Here Now."  

“We’re living in a country (world) which is drowning under the weight of systemic dysfunction,” writes Nijenhuis. “Duality or polarization is the world that most everyone is living in all of the time, in every moment. The only solution is to take the poles of every set of opposites and see the way in which they are one.”    

Alumni of the University of the Witwatersrand and Rhodes University, respectively, Nijenhuis and Msimanga have found creativity to be critical in their lives. Both are survivors of sexual assault, and both wanted to air South Africa’s dirty laundry to create a connection with others without expecting anything in return.

“This book [Lewis Hyde’s "The Gift"] helped me to see that an artistic talent (or any talent for that matter) is not something that you own,” writes Nijenhuis. “It is given to you, you are a vessel for it and in being that vessel you put a gift out into the world with no expectation of return. If you truly do this, the gift is given life by the people who receive it and value is placed in life and the gift is passed on.”

Photo by Jenny Nijenhuis.

The number of daily assaults portrayed in the display — 3,600 — has been criticized. (According to the UN, 132 rapes occur per day in South Africa.) Nijenhuis points out, though, that rape statistics can be tricky. Every police organization uses data differently in South Africa.

And because rape survivors are often treated like they’re the ones at fault (a similar issue in the U.S.), rape victims are less likely to report a crime.

While they weren’t looking for anything in return, the artists’ installation certainly grabbed viewers' attention.

Many were shocked at the extent of rape culture in South Africa, and the dialogue has started to go viral on social media. While they aren’t sure what’s next for the exhibit, they are sure that they want the message behind the exhibit to continue spreading around the world.  

“The problem in South Africa is that there’s a culture or belief that women and girls are owned and that sex is a man’s right,” writes Nijenhuis. “We hope that the exhibition therefore will educate and make people more aware of what their choices and beliefs are and how these choices affect the lives of women [and] others every day.”  

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


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