Rape is a crime that goes unpunished, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s in our artwork, our stories, our history books. For centuries rape has been glorified by gods, and used as a “lesson” to restrict women from their freedoms.
I think it’s about time women start writing their own stories.

Written With Blood is an ongoing project that takes a critical perspective of the history of rape and rape culture.

This project explores how historical texts, written from the male gaze, influence people’s perception of (and reaction to) the rape stories of today. Written With Blood focuses on the ongoing erasure of the woman’s voice. Each set is an exploration in human empathy and how connections are formed.

Gold Award. graphis photography
annual 2021

ashanti rubin [model, medusa]
colleen witkowski [model, leda]

.greek mythology

Her Neptune saw, and with such beauties fir'd,
Resolv'd to compass, what his soul desir'd.
In chaste Minerva's fane, he, lustful, stay'd,
And seiz'd, and rifled the young, blushing maid.
The bashful Goddess turn'd her eyes away,
Nor durst such bold impurity survey;
But on the ravish'd virgin vengeance takes,
Her shining hair is chang'd to hissing snakes.

ovid, metamorphisis book 4:1181-95
Others say that Jove, in the form of a swan, lay with Leda. We shall leave that matter undecided.

hyginus, astronomica 2.8.2

··· image coming soon ···
And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy : but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Polydegmon (Host of Many) [Haides], with his immortal horses sprang out upon her--the Son of Kronos (Cronus), Polynomos (He Who has Many Names).
He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. Then she cried out shrilly with her voice, calling upon her father

the homeric hymns



As a designer, I always felt that part of my role was to educate.

But I was never interested in numbers or statistics. They were lifeless “somebodies” that may or may not have been me, or around me. That idea, the one where I could wave off a statistic that guaranteed I knew someone who was raped, simply because I didn’t know who it was, didn’t sit right with me.

I turned to want to educate people on what it means to be someone else. I want to breathe life into that statistic. To show someone what it means to wake up in a life, in a skin and brain that is not your own. I want to create a connection between people that goes past understanding and recognition, but provides someone with true empathy, the experience and knowledge and feeling of being another human being. We don’t have the technology to do exactly that, but perhaps design can get us close.

My goal for this project is to expose people to new ways of thinking, to reveal a different world to them. One that they may not be able to access, given things outside of their control. I want people to know what it’s like, what it has always been like, to be a woman. I want to put a stop to the erasure of women and their stories. I want people to read them, know their names, their faces, and I want them to feel with them.
. development

I started with a well known and evaluated offender: greek mythology. I wanted to start with a task that I already had some background knowledge on. The task itself felt huge, and I figured starting in a place that I was already familiar with would make the obstacles a little less tall.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to address every female raped in history, so I gave myself permission to pick and choose from a selection of known and lesser known stories. I was able to narrow down my selection to Callisto, Leda, Medusa, Persephone, and Philomela.


Sketching is my go-to ideation process. I tend to start with a scrabble of words on sticky notes, but those don’t always get me far enough to forsee the problems or details. I like to do things once (maybe twice), so this process becomes very important to me. Sketching allows me to throw my ideas onto paper and begin to envision the outcome, with all of its props, color theory, and locations. It allows me to step into the shoes of the audience, and find minor details that may convolute the message or speak to something entirely different.

I didn’t make a sketch for my Callisto or Philomela shoots. Unsurprisingly, I did not include those into my final cut. They became too specific, too reliant on the setting to tell their story. But, the mistake helped me to realize that its the girls, and their faces, that I wanted to tell the story. 

Callisto [model Kylie Radick]

Philomela [model Astrid Navas]

all work © Taylor Shipton unless otherwise noted.