In a recent article, “Graffiti with a Purpose: Sexual Violence & Social Justice Conversations in University Bathroom Stalls” in the Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice and Criminology, researchers examined graffiti on public information posters on sexual violence to assess several issues including efficacy.
In 2014, Indiana University began posting educational fliers in bathroom stalls across campus in order to share resources and policies on sexual violence, which spurred numerous forms of graffiti commentary about sexual violence prevention and response.
Since some scholars have argued that bathroom graffiti can be a unique form of social commentary, and even resistance, facilitated by the tension of doing semi-private things in semi-public spaces, Dr. Rasul Mowatt, associate professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health – Bloomington and his research team (which included Ms. Rachel E. Green and Drs. Miriam Northcutt Bohmert, Amanda N. Gesselman, Jennifer Maher, and Justin R. Garcia) examined 429 bathroom stall fliers across 11 heavily trafficked campus buildings, and a total of 177 graffiti comments/images.
They then analyzed the relationships between comments in order to answer research questions about the content of messages, if symbolic support was provided therein, and whether these messages about sexual violence suggested a need for further structural change at the university level.