Friday, April 04, 2008
I was raped.
Jennifer Baumgartener wants to force rape into everyday conversation. She is selling t-shirts with this logo on it on Scarleteen. One of the biggest problems Baumgartener sees is that talking about rape is considered "too much information".

The founder of Scarleteen, Heather Corrina, a rape survivor, asks her, "What do you think young people, particularly, can do to help disable rape culture?" I love her answer. She says:

I think women can practice saying "No!" a dozen times a day--yelling it or not, but looking someone right in the eye and saying "No." Because it's hard for women to--I don't know, disappoint? Be seen as mean? Be unfriendly?--a very clear no is an important muscle to have to interrupt rape culture, which relies on women being polite and not trusting their instincts or believing they can have boundaries. I think we can talk to men about our rape experiences. One woman in the film tells her son about being raped; another tells her father. Being honest and inviting men to understand and sympathize will undermine rape culture, too, which is based on silence and no one thinking they know people who've been raped.

Why wear a shirt that says “I Was Raped”?

  • Because wearing it lets others know that they aren’t alone.
  • Because wearing it invites conversation about a silenced experience that so many women and men share.
  • Because rape is a crime that someone did to you, against your will.
  • Because, as Maya Angelou says, “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
  • Because you shouldn’t be ashamed that you were raped; the perpetrator should be ashamed.
  • Because being public shatters the very silence that enables rape to be so common.
  • Because naming what has happened is the first step toward changing the reality of rape.
  • Because legal redress is rarely served, so it’s crucial to find our own justice and acknowledgment.
  • ~ Jennifer Baumgardner, “I Was Raped” project, 2008

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14 Comments:

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I find that a noble and well-reasoned argument. But truthfully, I don't think I will *ever* have the nerve to wear a shirt like that. Or admit it in anything more than a generic sense. Sad to say, and supportive of her theory, I would much rather wear a shirt that says "I cheated on my taxes" or "I think dirty thoughts" or "my heart belongs to Shaun Cassidy".

Blogger æ said...

wow, you can make my nervous system kick in just reading the titles to your posts, faith.

I think I WOULD wear that shirt, if it was a day I felt like talking about it. I've thought seriously about a tattoo--somewhere I could CHOOSE who sees it and when. Maybe a bracelet? Yes, I think my next craft project will be to bead myself an "I was raped" bracelet with those fun stringing letters.

ah, crafts.

That's a pretty awesome website too, btw. Thanks for linking to this.

always :)

ae

Blogger hcorinna said...

Thank you, THANK YOU, for being one of the only people I've seen blogging on this today not to use an image of me without permission and not to just be a big freaking jerk (not that I'd expect anything less of you, but still: it's been a seriously rough day for me with all of this).

Blogger Faith said...

MG - Sweetie - you don't ever have to. I love you.

AE - I would too. It's hard, but I would wear it. I would cry and I would wear it. I would feel shame, and I would wear it anyway and I would hope that other women would see it and think, I am not alone.

HC - I wondered how today would be for you being out there in the open with this. It can't be easy and I've been really surprised at some of the reactions, especially by feminist sites. So much shame. We all have so much shame. I hope you are taking care of yourself tonight.

xo
F.

hmmmmm very interesting post...
my crusade is to break the silence around rape and sexual violence...
but i think that the post lays the blame w/ the women... why should we practice saying no... why are we always teaching "nice girls" to sit at home and protect themselves, but no one says to little boys to stay home and don't rape?
this taboo and silent culture we have surrounding rape is plain ugly and disgusting.
i support the t-shirt campaign, and though i've never been raped, i'd wear the shirt to open dialogue...
and break some stereotypes...(kind of like the "this is what a feminist looks like" idea...)

Blogger Beverly said...

The novella I just finished for my dissertation is about a woman who was raped at 15, silenced (of course) and seeks her voice again as an adult. Reading your post made my heart pound. Thank you.

Blogger Faith said...

Indigo, while I agree that we don't do enough to teach boys not to rape, I'm a girl. I know what rape feels like and I know what it feels like to be a "girl who can't (or doesn't know how) to say no". Despite screaming it over and over again during my rape.

I encourage you to talk about how boys can stop rape. In my part of all of this, I'm going to practice saying no, because it's still a problem I have, and I'm going to teach my niece to do the same, because, though I hope she grows up in an age where we've taught people not to rape, I have a feeling she'll need these skills anyway.

hey faith,
i'm sorry that you had to go through rape...
i guess i'm just angry...b/c i see what guilt does and it tears me apart to see good people, good women agonize b/c of someone else's actions...

Blogger Orangeblossoms said...

I was raped. But I didn't say NO. And for years I thought it was my responsibility to say NO; you know, so that he would know that I didn't want what he was doing..... Basically, I was was afraid to call my experience a rape because I hadn't taken the initiative to say NO. Raped in silence is raped, too. It took me a long time to figure this out. Nice though it is to teach girls to say NO, it sure makes me question again my own responsibility in my experience. I know I'm repeating what others have said. Still... sigh.

Blogger æ said...

I hope it's okay for me to weigh in on this, Faith.

The way I read the comments from the folks who bring up the "saying no" issue is as if they think you're saying there's ONE THING that we should do to stop rape, and your one thing you're naming is helping women verbally clarify boundaries.

That's not what I hear Faith saying, folks. I hear Faith saying she thinks that being able to explicitly state our boundaries is ONE PIECE in all this. And in fact it's a really good, important piece. Because each rapist might have his own turning-away point, and shit, for some it might be hearing NO. For others it might be having someone else walk in during the rape. For someone else, he might not stop unless you shoot the sonofabitch.

It's never, ever a woman's fault she was raped. AND IF learning to assert her boundaries can prevent her from being raped, then that's a whole lot of personal hell spared.

I think.

I love you Faith.

ae

Blogger æ said...

[magically updating comment to reflect that all perpetrators are not men and all victims are not women]

Thanks for this post, Faith.

It's funny, my first thought was, "No. I don't believe in leading with what's broken and I've dealt with it and so over it now, moved on, la la la." but then I thought about it a little more and what that became for me was, "No. Really? I can't admit it. I can't talk about it. I can't think about it. I can't say that word because it is so loaded and charged and painful. I can't say it out loud. Or wear it out loud. I'm too ashamed." and that is a looong way from where I started the thought process and is probably a more honest place for me to be in.

I couldn't wear the shirt, but I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to have that conversation with myself and to read your thoughts and the thoughts of the women who posted comments here.

Blogger Lynn said...

Faith, you are an amazing, compassionate person.

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