If you saw someone wearing any of these disgusting shirts, would you:

  1. Hit him where it hurts (your choice of body part)
  2. Go into an uncontrollable screaming rage
  3. Run in the other direction
  4. Burst into tears in mourning for your very last ounce of hope in humanity

For me, it depends. I would always be tempted by #1, but refrain (violence is wrong, I’m a wimp, and the last guy I want to initiate violence with is the one wearing a rape shirt). I would probably do #2 if around enough people I know, and could therefore feel relatively safe yelling at someone who is a rapist or rapist-in-training. Otherwise, I’d have to go with #3, followed very quickly by #4. Actually, #4 could probably be guaranteed.

Leave your answers in the comments.

UPDATE: Numerous people in the comments have left remarks questioning whether or not Cafe Press should sell such material and whether or not people are allowed to sell such material on Cafe Press. I looked into it, and as it turns out . . . I’m pretty sure that they can’t.

General Guidelines for Prohibited Content

  • Content that may infringe on the rights of a third a party.
  • Items that make inappropriate use of Nazi symbols and glamorize the actions of Hitler.
  • Use of marks that signify hate towards another group of people.
  • Hate and/or racist terms.
  • Inappropriate content or nudity that is not artistic in nature.
  • Content that exploits images or the likeness of minors.
  • Obscene and vulgar comments and offensive remarks that harass, threaten, defame or abuse others such as F*** (Ethnic Group).
  • Content that depicts violence, is obscene, abusive, fraudulent or threatening such as an image of a murder victim, morgue shots, promotion of suicide, etc.
  • Content that glamorizes the use of “hard core” illegal substance and drugs such as a person injecting a vial of a substance in their body.
  • Material that is generally offensive or in bad taste, as determined by CafePress.com.

The list outlined above should NOT be construed as an exhaustive list of offensive material but rather as a general guideline for you to follow.

I think that these shirts pretty much have to fall under at least one of these guidelines. Cafe Press says that if something breaks the usage policy to email them at cup@cafepress.com. So, below the jump, I’ve compiled a bunch of links for the shirts I found, roughly though hardly scientifically in order of most to least offensive. I suggest sending off an email with these URLs and an explanation as to why they violate the content policy. Trigger warning: all of these shirts are very disturbing and offensive.

(Note: this shirt is particularly offensive as “rape.com” redirects to rainn.org)

Lastly, I’d like to note that many of the most offensive shirts (“I put the sensual back in consensual”) can be seen during searches but are no longer available — though I don’t know if it’s because they’re sold out or because Cafe Press removed them. If you do find something that I’ve missed, leave them in the comments. I have no illusions that this will somehow stop rape jokes, but we can at least try to keep fuckers from making a profit off of them.


1 patrick April 9, 2008 at 9:09 pm

I know violence is wrong but I’m pretty sure that if I saw some guy wearing that shirt going anywhere near my partner or any of her friends I’d pop him one in the noggin’ before contemplating whether doing so was right. I’m not sure what this says about me but that’s what my surveyed said.

2 Rachel April 9, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Dear Lord.
Can we add an option for standing in total silence with mouth gaping? Because I’d probably do that.

3 Ran April 9, 2008 at 10:25 pm

I’m with Rachel.

4 GumbyAnne April 9, 2008 at 10:52 pm

#3 followed by #4

5 Ran April 9, 2008 at 11:01 pm

By the way, unrelated: this Scientific American article might interest you.

6 konstanze April 10, 2008 at 1:58 am

I’m with Rachel and Ran.

7 bri April 10, 2008 at 3:24 am

2 followed by 4 when he wasn’t in my presence

8 lucy April 10, 2008 at 4:38 am

The cafe press site has a contact form for complaints – i think they should remove this store, and it would be nice if more people would ask them to.

9 Rachel April 10, 2008 at 8:44 am

So I blogged about this as well, after checking out some of the tee shirts at Cafe Press for myself. I’m frustrated and disgusted and really just sick to my stomach over this – while I have understood for awhile that rape is something people constantly reduce to a “misunderstanding” or “a matter of semantics,” I never honestly believed there were that many people who found it amusing.

My friend Andrea suggested a boycott of Cafe Press, which I think is not quite useful – boycotts don’t generally have the intended effect. She also suggested calling Cafe Press to ask them about their policy on marketing items that advocate violence. I checked out their TOS and there is no restriction on content.

I don’t really know if there’s an actual point to my comment here, or if I’m just really frustrated and trying to vent it out. I just feel like something needs to be done, but I don’t know what to do.

By the way, the Cafe Press number, for anyone who wants it, is 1-877-809-1659.

10 Jennifer April 10, 2008 at 8:51 am

Wouldn’t it be great if all these assholes labeled themselves? Then if one of them approached me in a dark parking lot, I wouldn’t have to guess what he had in mind. Since this state recognizes the threat of rape as ‘deadly force’ I would be perfectly within my rights to defend myself by whatever means I have at my disposal including deadly force.

11 Jennifer April 10, 2008 at 8:55 am

One of the caveats of free speech is that people are free to make complete asses of themselves. I would not support boycotting Cafe Press. This shirt sickens me, but I respect that they support free speech.
It’s a sick bastard that would buy one of these. I am utterly disturbed that there would be a market for such things.

12 Astraea April 10, 2008 at 9:03 am

I’m about at #4 just knowing these shirts exist and are purchased.

13 Kristen April 10, 2008 at 10:56 am

Okay, so incredibly embarrassing story that thoroughly decimates my feminist cred.

My husband (we’ll call him, M) and I were walking through a “party” area one night on vacation about a year/year and a half ago. And there were these two guys following these two women. After about half a block we realized that the women weren’t leading the men back to some place, the men were following without invitation. So I look over at the men trying to figure out what’s going on and their both wearing home made shirts that said “GHB – The Drug of Choice” (with choice underlined).

So I was completely freaked. I looked over at M and he nodded at me and asked the women if they would like us to walk them to their car/apartment or if they would like to use our cell phone to call someone. (I tried to smile so that they know we weren’t crazed stalkers too.) They said if it was no trouble they would appreciate if we’d walk with them to their car.

At which point one of the guys reached for the woman right in front of him and said something to the effect of “I don’t think so, I bought her a drink. She’s going home with me.” She spun around AND DECKED HIM. He fell like a sack of bricks.

So the other guy is now completely enraged and starts screaming just hateful things at these two women and trying to grab them. The women run as fast as they possibly can in 4 inch heels to the parking garage.

M tackles the conscious guy and puts him a judo choke while the women make their escape. M is now completely and utterly furious (he just noticed the shirts) and starts using his angry voice to explain that he could break every bone in the guys body. Then a police officer comes running up (after having the women explain that two guys were those particular shirts had tried to attack them – thank god they did that) and takes both men into custody.

And me…I’m just standing there…mouth open…the whole time…being utterly and completely useless.

So…I’m afraid I’ll have to add:

5. Stand there, open mouthed, being completely and utterly useless.

14 Cath April 10, 2008 at 11:35 am

At which point one of the guys reached for the woman right in front of him and said something to the effect of “I don’t think so, I bought her a drink. She’s going home with me.” She spun around AND DECKED HIM. He fell like a sack of bricks.
Pacifist or no, this makes me so very happy.

15 Cara April 10, 2008 at 11:50 am

Definitely, Cath. And I mean, there’s a clear difference between violence out of anger and violence out of self defense. This case seems to be inarguably the latter, and I’m glad that a horrible story has a non-horrible ending.

16 Rachel April 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Cara, thanks for the update and the info. I was looking late last night and couldn’t find anything, but then I didn’t look too hard.

Someday, I’m going to buy you a beer. Or whatever it is that you’d like to drink.

17 Robin April 10, 2008 at 12:41 pm
18 Roy April 10, 2008 at 1:11 pm

One of the caveats of free speech is that people are free to make complete asses of themselves. I would not support boycotting Cafe Press. This shirt sickens me, but I respect that they support free speech.
It’s a sick bastard that would buy one of these. I am utterly disturbed that there would be a market for such things.

Can we please stop pretending that “Freedome of speech” means “Freedom from criticism or consequence to speech”? Freedom of speech prevents the government from taking action against people for socially unpopular or critical speech. It protects you from being arrested for saying “Bush is an idiot” or “I don’t support the war in Iraq.” It does not, however, prevent other people from taking personal action against you for saying stupid or offensive things. I have every right to organize protests against speech I find offensive. I have a right not advocate not viewing movies that are racist or sexist. I have the right to send out letters calling for people not to support a company that advocates particularly sexist policies. Those things are not a violation of free speech, and are, in fact, part of it.

These assholes have every right to make shirts like that, but I also have a right to make it clear to businesses that I won’t be giving any of my money to them as long as they do.

19 Roy April 10, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Can I please learn to spell “Freedom” rather than “Freedome”? As cool as a free dome would be.

20 Cara April 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Someday, I’m going to buy you a beer. Or whatever it is that you’d like to drink.

Vodka and cranberry. OR BAILEYS. I love me some Baileys.

And yes Roy, you certainly can learn to spell “freedom,” but the question is will you?

21 Melissa April 10, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I have only looked at a couple so far, but just the fact that they are classified under “rape humour” makes me want to cry….

22 Sara April 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm

CafePress clearly DOES NOT support “free speech,” or it wouldn’t have a “prohibited content” policy to begin with. What this company is doing is perpetuating a double standard that racial violence is unacceptable but sexual violence is not only acceptable but humorous. (And once again the “illegal substances” a person introduces into his or her own body is considered a greater threat to public safety than violating another person’s body on its most fundamental level.) If a wave of “rape + humor” t-shirts is not “generally offensive or in bad taste” enough to concern CafePress then I definitely think a boycott of the company is warranted. I also think it is entirely possible to uphold the legality of free speech while acting within our rights as consumers to impact the amount of profit a private company can draw from it.

23 Roy April 10, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Baileys is alright, but have you tried Carolans?

It’s my Irish Cream of choice. It’s markedly less expensive, but tastes twice as nice. I think it’s the hint of honey that does it. Mmmm.

24 Melissa April 10, 2008 at 2:27 pm

I am almost at a loss for words after looking at all of those shirts. Almost. This is so very sad and disturbing. I think more than just a boycott is in order. Emails out the ass complaining and also if you know of someone that uses them as their vendor, get in touch with them and show them this information and see if they will use another vendor.

25 Cara April 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm

First of all, I don’t support the idea of a Cafe Press boycott not only because it will not work, but because countless people who do good work and do deserve our money also work through the site.

Secondly, we do not yet know Cafe Press’ stance on these shirts. We don’t know that any of these shirts have been reported, and I’m pretty sure that well over a million designs on their site and are probably largely incapable of policing it themselves and rely on users to report content. Does Cafe Press create the tags? I was pretty sure that this was done by users. If the company created the “rape humor” tag, clearly that’s a huge problem and inexcusable on their part. Anyone know?

26 Melissa April 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm

From what I can tell via this page, it looks like they write their own tags…

27 Melissa April 10, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Ok – well I just called Cafe Press and spoke to one of their content guys. He was very nice and said that they are aware of some of these products and have been working to take them down and that they will continue to look through the thousands of results that come up when you search for “rape humor”. He said that many of them will come down soon, today. He did say; however, that there are some that they agree are offensive, but if they do not condone violence then they may stay up. He encouraged us to take a look at the site again this weekend or on Monday and if there are still some up there that we feel are unacceptable then we can call back or send an email to state our case and possibly get them removed.
It is a start.

28 Cara April 10, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Great news, Melissa! Thanks.

29 lucy April 10, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Cafe press also responded to my emails saying that they are currently reviewing this content, and that their automated system can never pick up every gross item, so they rely on browsers to highlight violations of their terms.. so keep patrolling!

30 Tracey April 10, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Whatever shirt #4 was on the list, it now says, “This Item No Longer Available”, so maybe the e-mails and the calls are slowly doing some good! Cara, along with everyone who contacted Cafepress should get a Silver Teaspoon.

31 Jennifer April 10, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Can we please stop pretending that “Freedome of speech” means “Freedom from criticism or consequence to speech”?

I did not mean that they were free from criticism. I am absolutely in support of boycotting the particular seller, just not Cafe Press. I’m very sorry to be unclear. I think everyone and their dog should be ridiculing and drawing attention to the offensive messages on these shirts.

32 Melissa April 10, 2008 at 10:47 pm

OK my lovely feminists – 1-5 are done = no longer available. Nice, kuddos to us and to CARA for bringing this to our attention.

As for the others, here is my humble breakdown:
6: Rappin’ Granny – I am thinking this was a take on the Wedding Singer, not rape (please correct me if you think not)
7: “Roofies, Medicate Your Date”: Yeah, no, not down by Monday we have problems.
8: “Choloform. It’s my move”: Unless there is some hidden meaning to this, I am all for out.
9: The fact that “rape.com” leads to “rainn.com” I think might just be the point, this shrt might be on our side…let me know what ya’ll think.
11. “Stop Rape, Say Yes”: All over this one – must GO.

Again – CARA ROCKS the CASBAUGH!!!! Let’s all keep an eye on this place.


33 Cara April 10, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Re: #6, I never considered this, since it’s under the rape tag — the extra “p” didn’t even register with me. It’s possible, though I wonder how the person who made it categorized made such a large mistake.

Re: #9, I just happen to have been spending a lot of time on RAINN’s website lately for some work I’ve been doing with Planned Parenthood. I know that this shirt is nowhere even remotely near their style, and that they aren’t responsible for it. And I’m struggling to consider the shirt in an anti-rape sense. Am I missing something?

And thanks :)

34 Melissa April 10, 2008 at 11:50 pm

This is what the “designer” of the shirt has to say:
SAYINGS – So Easy Man Joke: “So Easy… A Man Can Do It; RAPE.COM” saying on T-SHIRTS, GIFTS SHIRTS. A cool joke and spoof parody with strong attitude. A saying similar to the “Geico.com so easy a caveman can do it” TV commercial; but this Rape.com saying compares men to funny, offensive insults and sexual suggestive words and phrases in the form of a .com web site address in joke style. Buy this Rape.com cutting comment, sarcastic Rape remark, gibe & jab Rape saying directed at boys, men and the male gender with a jeer and a pan to totally poke fun at a man on Rape T-Shirts, Gifts Shirts: Rape Saying.

You were right, Cara – there is no way that this is connected to RAINN. There are several of these shirts:

All of them *pointing* to a URL that may or may not exist (some do, some don’t, some make me want to puke) I think the point of contact here is “Jest Designs” – one by one.

And you are the most welcome:-) Love your writing!

35 Moody April 11, 2008 at 8:19 am

Good job on getting rid of at least some of these shirts. :)

36 Cath April 11, 2008 at 9:19 am

Baileys or Carolans all around, with a double for Melissa!

Thank you, Melissa.

37 Feminist Avatar April 11, 2008 at 9:32 am

Can I propose: 7. Phone the police and report a self-confessed rapist.

38 Sara April 11, 2008 at 10:51 am

> Quote: “He did say; however, that there are some that they agree are offensive, but if they do not condone violence then they may stay up.” <

I agree, it’s a start, but how can a t-shirt about rape ever NOT condone violence? In light of this statement the fact that the roofie slogans aren’t down by now suggests to me that someone in the company is splitting hairs over what “violence” means. (i.e if the victim is already drugged, thereby no longer necessitating use of a weapon and or beating that person into submission, can one technically say that “violence” has occurred?)

The next few days should definitely be interesting. Congrats on all you folks have accomplished so far!

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