“I Was Raped” Shirt Sparks Controversy & Discussion

So, what do you think of this t-shirt? Kind of hard to read right? Made by writer, journalist, and feminist activist Jennifer Baumgardner (author of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism And The Future), the shirt reads, in small print, “I Was Raped” on a small placecard inside an image of a safe. A follow-up to a shirt she made last year, which said, “I Had An Abortion”, Baumgardner hopes that the shirt will encourage women to be open about their experience with sexual assault and “divest themselves of some of the shame and secrecy of it.” Profiled in today’s New York Times, she also says, “By having an object like this” — a simple T-shirt — “that’s so mundane, it sort of forces it into everyday conversation….The wearer isn’t advertising that he or she was raped, but rather opening up to you, the viewer, and also saying that this is a small part of who he or she is.”

I personally really respect Baumgardner as a writer, and while I think the concept and intent of the shirt is valid, compassionate, and incendiary in all the right ways, I tend to agree with Jezebel’s Jessica that the subject of rape is never going to be something that women will discuss over scones and a cup of coffee. I hope the women who choose to wear the shirt are proud of their decision to wear it — but that they don’t fault the women who choose not to. [NY Times via Jezebel]