I thought for once some happy news would be a good thing to share with everyone. We all get to read about so much depressing and/or triggering fuckery that sometimes it gets a bit much to take and things can feel kinda bleak. But I have a tale of fuckery vanquished to act as a sorbet for everyone.
Trigger Warning for sexual violence and Misogyny.
So on Monday the 10th, I was lazily shedding turkey coma, (Canadian Thanksgiving WAS Monday here, but my mom does the family dinner thing on Sundays), and was having a scroll through my twitter feed. One of my UK friends seemed to be upset about something. So much so she had misspelled the url for the link to what had upset her in a blog entry.
While I was telling her the link needed correcting I asked her to show me what had upset her. She linked me to 1StopShirtShop.co.uk, an otherwise seemingly normal internet shirt store.They had the usual categories that have become common of course. Some comic book tees here, some movie tees there. And the seemingly obligatory these days "Offensive tees".
Most of the offensive tees were of the expected "Get in the kitchen my sammich won't make itself" variety. Sexist and unfunny, but sadly easy enough to ignore for most of us. But the shirt that had upset my friend was one that read "If you have sex with a prostitute against her will, is it rape or shoplifting?".
As a rape survivor AND a former prostitute, this staggering example of Rape Culture almost literally made me vomit.
I've become friends with Change.org's Shelby Knox since she rectified the "Justin" incident for me last fall. "The then community manager of change had banned me for standing up to rape apologists who were blatantly posting dehumanizing "most rapes are false reports to hurt men" comments. My rebuttals sharing person history tio show why rape is bad all got deleted, but the rape apologists' posts were still there, Shelby rectified it by encouraging Justin to move on and deleted the offending comments. So given that I decided to try a petition there aimed at this shop.
So I started the petition.
I set the signature goal at 1500. I thought that seemed a reasonable target for what was ostensibly a small action. I shared the petition link on Twitter and Facebook. And hoped for the best.
Now I've seen other such actions on Change that generally took awhile to get anywhere, if they ever did. But much to my happy surprise, in less than 24 hours after only 100 signatures, I found that 1Stop had quieted removed all trace of the shirt ever existing. The link to it's page used on the petition description comes back dead, and going to their homepage and searching keywords "rape" or "prostitute" turn up no results of this shirt.
The company listened, with minimal prodding, and removed a shirt that went well beyond just being "off colour humour" and into promoting the rape of sex workers. They heard the message about rape culture, about the harms that sex workers face, and they LISTENED.
And that, while sadly being an all too rare thing these days, is a wonderful thing. Someone listened with minimal prodding and a harmful shirt that, and you folks all know I'm not exaggerating, could have legitimately contributed to actual sex workers being raped, by frat boys who think the shirt is funny, or a men who realizes police likely won't care. A shirt like that was outright dangerous.
But they LISTENED. We spoke up about rape and someone actually heard us.
And goddammit, that just feels good.