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Allaire Bartel's 'Boundaries' Photos On Sexual Aggression Are Strikingly Powerful

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Trigger warning: This article contains information about violence which may be triggering to survivors


It's a light brush on the shoulder at work or a forceful caress on your sides at the gym. Daily, women are subjected to forms of harassment that are both subtle and aggressive, and a new photo series is aiming to raise awareness around this behaviour.

Labelled "Boundaries," the photo series features five striking images of women in everyday places like the office or the gym, feeling constraint and harassed by male hands.

"I was inspired to explore the subject of boundaries placed on women mainly because of the Santa Barbara shooting, unfortunately," says photographer Allaire Bartel of Brooklyn. "The incident had sparked a global conversation of women sharing stories that I realized I could relate to."

In May 2014, a 22-year-old California gunman, went on a vicious rampage and killed six people at his university in Santa Barbara. Reports later revealed the accused gunman Elliot Rodger, who also killed himself, wrote a misogynist manifesto stating his hatred for women.

Bartel says she was drawn to do a series like this because first and foremost, she is also a woman.

"I don't appreciate when I'm looked down upon, underestimated, or disrespected simply because of that fact. Or even worse, put in danger," she says. "Additionally, most of my role models in life have been intelligent, capable women, and I want perceptions to change for their sakes as well."

The photo series, which was shot in Pittsburgh, is gripping yet raises important messages about everyday violence. According to the Canadian Labour Relations, at least 90 per cent of women say they have felt harassed in the workplace. Bartel's project also comes into light just days before the Ontario government announced a new campaign to stop sexual assault and harassment.

Bartel says the images are examples of personal experiences, and she has also received feedback from strangers sharing their personal stories.

"We were looking for something shocking, yes. The idea was to take something that many people don't see as a big deal (a grope or a comment) and represent it in a way that forces them to pay attention."

Check out the photos below:

  • Allaire Bartel Photography
  • Allaire Bartel Photography
  • Allaire Bartel Photography
  • Allaire Bartel Photography
  • Allaire Bartel Photography
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