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Let’s talk about rape culture

After much deliberation, I have decided to bring this poem out. In my pieces, I usually have the poetry positioned first and the commentary second, but this time, my work requires a bit of foreword. The subject matter beyond this point pertains to sexual assault.

 In this poem, I ventriloquize the story of someone I know, and I want it to make your blood boil. I want you to read this piece and writhe with the anger I write with. I want you to be upset, I want you to be angry, I want you to be hurt, and I don’t want you to look away.

Oppression, pain, and trauma are the children of irreverence and indifference, each rooted in the womb of “oh, it doesn’t concern me, so I don’t wanna talk about it.” But change, awareness, and empathy demand dialogue. To be silent in cases of injustice or violence is to be complicit. This is not to say that one should decide a course of action on behalf of a victim – no, the point of this statement is to say that if a survivor comes forth, you are obligated to believe them and help them in whatever capacity you are able. Furthermore, if you see incidences of or even mere hints of rape culture, it is your responsibility as a human being to shut it down.

I urge you to read on if you are able. Sexual assault is a heavy topic, but that is why it must be addressed.

Consent

She is young

And in love

She is ripe

With life

She is untouched

And though tempted by lust

She is just

Not quite ready

To take the plunge.

He is watching

He is wanting

To taste the bounty

That is her body

But he knows she is not ready

To share it yet;

But, he persists

I’ve waited long enough

For this

And I will have

My taste 

Of her body’s chaste

Fruit.

So he begins to choose

For her, as if

She has nothing to lose:

Filling her cup

With a little too much

Making her munch

On too large of a blunt

Getting her just

A little too drunk

Spiking her drink

Just enough so she can’t think, can’t see

As he undoes her belt, slips off her jeans

Tosses them to the floor, along with his own

And dives into her panties.

She cannot bring herself to move

With her mind and muscles bogged down in booze

But her slackened face needs no translation

And her voice reeks with the stench of hesitation

As a plea of “no” slips through her lips

Which he pretends not to hear, as he slips himself in

And in

And deeper in

Her contorted features don’t convince him to abstain

Or refrain

Or exit

As he takes his full

And disregards her expression–

“No” she tries to say; but her voice goes away

“No” she tries to scream

As her body throbs and bleeds

“No” she tries to whisper

Hoping he can hear her

But it makes no difference

As he continues to touch

And continues to rove

The body she was not ready

To let him explore–

This is not sex. This is not sex.

Is what she says to herself, again and again

Even as he lets himself out

And she feels hollowed out

She murmurs the words she lacks the energy to say aloud—

This is not sex. This is not sex.

He walks out like nothing is wrong, but she stays plastered to the bed

Shaking as she pulls close her legs

This is not sex This is not sex–

I did not

Give him consent.

Consent is not

Drugging and abetting

Consent is not

Cornering and breaking

Consent is not

Being manipulated

Consent is not

Feeling violated

Consent is something that is voluntarily GIVEN

And it has no right

By ANYONE

To be forcibly taken

Call it what you will and say

what you may

But any sex without consent

Is oppressive painful scarring

It is RAPE.

–let’s not lie to ourselves and claim she was “asking for it,” okay?

~ Maaheen Shaikh `25

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