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I Am Victim, See My T-Shirt

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I Am Victim, See My T-Shirt
Rape is a horrible thing, and if you're raped, I don't think you should be ashamed. That said, I think the "I was raped" t-shirts created by Jennifer Baumgardner will function mainly as publicity for Jennifer Baumgardner.

By the way, the cartooned message (photo at the link) is on a card in a safe, but I thought it was a microwave at first glance -- which seemed an odd choice. ("I was raped while reheating dinner?")

In the New York Times blog item by Susan Dominus, there's a passage at the end about what Baumgardner was going for:

A shirt that would let rape victims "own the experience," she says, and would help chip away the cone of silence that surrounds a crime with humiliation at its core.

A shirt that would start conversations.

Yeah, with the guy standing next to a woman at the hardware store.

Guy: "Nice weather we're having."

Woman: "I was raped."


You're not going to say that any more than you're going to say "I was mugged" or "I have amoebic dysentery." This isn't necessarily because you're ashamed of being raped, but because we don't have those conversations with total strangers.

As for the idea of "owning the experience" -- that's very victim-feminist-speak. But, what does it mean, really? Is rape not an experience that's yours? Is mugging not an experience that's yours? I don't get it. Do people talk about "owning" an armed holdup?

Again, rape is a terrible thing that happens to a person (and not just to a female person). Is it any better because a woman puts on a pink shirt that essentially turns being a victim of a crime into her identity?