What if women– from George Eliot to J. K. Rowling to rape survivors– refused to obscure their identities?

If George Eliot hadn’t pretended to be male, she may never have been published at all. If J.K. Rowling hadn’t taken her publisher’s advice to obscure her gender, she may not have created the Harry Potter franchise and become a billionaire and then a millionaire because she gave so much money away. If rape survivors choose to publicly tell their stories, with their real names and photos they risk a lifelong victimization by a sexist culture.

I wish this culture didn’t make it so preferable for women to keep their stories and gender secret and hidden.

I’m grateful to every woman who publicly tells her story.

Thank you to Madeleine Smith, a graduate of Harvard University who was raped while attending college and spoke at the release of the first report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. You’re a hero and you’re changing the world for women, something you can’t do without a face and a name. Other women will hear you and see you and they will choose to tell their secret stories too. Seeing you puts the shame where it belongs, back on the perpetrators.


Thank you to another hero, Ashley Sapp of the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project.  In honor of Mother’s Day, the project features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, and sex trafficking.


Please check out this project, it’s incredible.

When women stay silent and invisible, all women and girls are affected. We all learn that our stories– whatever they may be– are not important and don’t matter. When women tell the truth publicly, they give us all permission and inspiration to do the same.

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