Etsy’s sadistic greeting card for rape survivors
I was just about to post this blog when I got news through twitter that the on-line seller of vintage and handmade products Esty had changed its policy and was prohibiting items and listings that disparage or promote hate. However, as the rape cards and other offensive cards remain on its site at the time of writing, and as it appears sellers are being asked to voluntarily withdraw, I am publishing the blog as is in the hope it might contribute to speedy removal. Also, it could easily be argued that the cards already violated Etsy’s Terms of Selling. And regardless, we still need to confront the reality of a rape-trivialising culture, of which this card is just one manifestation.
I’m barely keeping up with the litany of women-punishing products, music, images and messages flooding the world at the moment. It’s overwhelming.
Take this for example.
On-line seller Etsy is advertising a greeting card for women who have been raped. It contains a drawing of a naked woman cowering in the shower with the wording “Congratulations: You got bad touched!” This card and other çards ‘for awkward situations’ are created by Jason Jones whose selling name is “YouStupidBitch”.
Change.org has a petition calling on Etsy to remove this card along with others including one mocking mothers of children with Down syndrome, another congratulating women with breast cancer.
As of this afternoon, there were 16,521 signatures.
Trivialising sexual assault
For the past couple of weeks I have been tweeting Change.org’s petition, encouraging people to sign. (Thanks to all who did).
One woman on twitter criticised me doing so. She said that while the cards were “in poor taste”, she would never “dictate what other find amusing”.
Dictate what others find amusing…I didn’t say this in response, but I’ve been thinking about how anti-semites find images of Jewish people with exaggerated noses amusing. Or how white supremacists may find images of blacks being lynched, entertaining.
Why isn’t mocking women who have been sexually assaulted seen as universally and unequivocally offensive? Why are crimes against women seen as fodder for amusement?
What has happened in our culture that such a sadistic and cruel card could even be created, let alone sold, profited from, justified and defended by others?
Products like this feed into a culture which trivialises rape, makes fun of or blames sexual assault survivors. A culture which tells them to get over it or even that they should be grateful anyone would want to rape them (a comment I’ve heard). A culture which comes up with t.shirts with slogans like “It’s not rape it’s surprise sex” or “It’s not rape if you yell surprise!”
“When a person is sexually assaulted their faith in humanity is fractured. To see other people mock rape and its victims only exacerbates the sense of dislocation” – a survivor
It’s the survivors of rape who we should be listening to in all this. How does a rape greeting card make them feel?
A young sexual assault survivor shared her thoughts with me:
As a survivor, when I hear of rape-positive attitudes it is a reminder that I live in a world where rape is condoned or even promoted. It is a reminder that I am not simply up against one man who tried to rape and kill me, rather I am up against a culture of abuse. It is a reminder that my experience of sexual assault, while highly personal and individual, also has a historical and cultural dimension that reaches back for centuries, and which bleeds into all cultures and communities around the world. That knowledge is hard to deal with as it makes my experience seem irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. It also makes me feel insignificant and it makes future rape of other women including sisters, daughters and friends seem inevitable. In effect the knowledge that rape is still condoned by some makes me feel even more powerless as my own experience is made a mockery of.
One thing I always say is that if these people knew what it was that they were joking about, then they wouldn’t joke about it. I envy anyone who is able to joke about rape as it is a clear indication that they have absolutely no experience of what it is that they are joking about: if they did they would never joke about it. People should not use big words that they don’t understand because they end up looking like idiots. Well, rape is a big word. People who don’t understand it’s meaning- not definition- but meaning, shouldn’t use it, much less joke about it.
As I say, even if I never see or receive such a card, the very knowledge that it exists makes me feel alone and unsupported by the broader community. When a person is sexually assaulted their faith in humanity is fractured. To see other people mock rape and its victims only exacerbates the sense of dislocation from the rest of society and this compounds feelings of isolation and distress.
Demonstrate your solidarity for women like this. Stand up against all rape trivialising jokes, products and messages.