... but a statement of fact that is not up for debate with all those who declare that they are -- or should be -- the final arbiters of what is and is not "real" rape and who was and was not raped.
Maybe that's why those 3 words are causing such a fuss around the Internet.
I was raped.
Not, I was raped because I trusted the wrong man. Not, I was raped because I walked home from school alone. Not, I was raped because I left my drink unattended. Not, I think I was raped but when I told my best friend what was done to me she called me a liar because no knife or gun was involved.
I was raped.
If you weren't then it is you who should be careful about the message you send to those around you when you talk about those who disclose having been raped or who are trying to help those who have been raped. Any barbs directed at Jennifer Baumgardner or Heather Corinna of Scarleteen from those who do not claim these 3 words have a self-serving sting to them which may cause those you care about the most to feel the sting of your words as if they were directed at them.
You don't know which of the people you care about could claim those 3 words but has not -- yet.
Here is a revealing paragraph from the New York Times:
Still, as Ms. Clifford walked out the door, intending to wear the T-shirt to pick up her preschooler around the corner, it was easy to worry on her behalf about the other mothers’ reactions. Would they assume her son’s mother was deeply damaged, not just by the information displayed on the shirt, but by her choice to announce it on a pale pink T-shirt?
This worry indicates how ingrained the shut up message directed at rape survivors is in our society. Smart and rational rape survivors are supposed to carefully guard their secret unless they are being brave by cooperating with law enforcement. If you don't shut up about rape or don't only reveal what happened to you in hushed tones then you are suspect.
This makes the image of the open safe relevant and an act of rebellion.
This also indicates how ingrained the message is that those who have been raped become lesser human beings because of the trauma they suffered. Often this message is packaged in statements of empathy when they are really statements of diminishment.
My rapist didn't ruin my life or taint me forever, he caused trauma which nearly got me killed and which will be with me forever. There is a huge difference between these 2 results.
Revealing the truth without apology does not in reality indicate that the wearer of that shirt is deeply damaged -- meaning irrational and therefore untrustworthy -- it simply indicates a fact that shouldn't be shocking considering the statistics.
When I begrudgingly came out as a rape survivor in 1996 through a newspaper headline which read, "New Author Writes About Date Rape From Experience" I thought I'd have to move out of town to escape the negative reactions I'd get. Instead, I heard, "Me too." over and over again. By listening to their stories I began to see patterns in how rapists rationalized their crimes.
The dangerousness of coming out as someone who has been raped is what should have all of us concerned and dedicated to eliminating this danger.
For the men who recoil at the thought of seeing a woman you know wearing such a bold and truthful statement maybe this statement makes the impact of what you have done or what you excuse more real than you want it to be.
As long as you refuse to see this reality you will do nothing to help change it.
For those who are accusing Baumgardner and Corinna of being rape profiteers, where is your similar accusation against those who have written books which deny most rapes by labelling awareness efforts and rape statistics to be nothing more than rape hysteria?