A Poem on Rape Culture
Students and parents at UT institutions were recently shocked by the striking statistics of sexual assault and misconduct released by the Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE). The survey reported that 15 percent of undergraduate women at UT Austin have reported being raped and that 28% of undergraduate women reported that they were victims of unwanted sexual touching.
In this poem, I address topics such as rape culture, sexual assault, and sexism experienced by women. It is important to note that by writing this poem, I am in no way demeaning the occurrence of rape when men are the victims. All rape — whether the victims are male or female — is greatly disturbing and unacceptable. All sexism — whether the victims are male or female — is absolutely unacceptable. But it is no secret that the occurrence of rape and sexual assault is substantially more prevalent among women. It is also no secret that women encounter sexism on a regular basis.
Hot magma shyly dripped from her long wisps of hair
her mother called her through the glass telephone
there’s punishment for those who forget pepper and a punch.
She glanced down for 15 seconds
capital cursive L’s dangled from her fragile skirt
Lapillus, Love, Loss.
Golden Legs decorated with a dainty Lace crown
He took them aLL.
She sat with her legs crossed while lights flashed azure red and wine blue
pride Left her like an empty solution.
He said that Longing fell from her eyelashes
they said his skin leaked ethanol
they said she Liked the feeling of dry forget-me-nots
they said she was just unLucky.
Curves were the enemy
an open book at a quiet coffee shop.
Then she saw another.
Raccoons followed like ravenous viruses
at least they were Living.
Trash, expired promises, and water-boarded playing cards
decaying in the circular corner of a room.
She saw the psychic wind cast a deadly touch on another
a cloak of invisibility as protection 28 times a day.
Yet another — seen forced into a door lined with exit
his eyes reflected a figure only worthy if slim ripe roses infest the chest.
She didn’t pick this
a loss of acidity.
He tied the object inside of a lackluster oven
screams draining from the plastic washing machine
She saw bleeding ocean waves Left behind among the scintillating silence.
A grand entrance into homecoming court
specks of dust bruised the bulls eye
chained in a gated cell.
They saw him scatter suffocating obsidian
yet they ate the 15 Lies seven by nine.
He escaped the shadows.
Lies sewed his lips open, and he massacred the Lost but never found
Order in the court.
She saw the shattered glass
they asked her to find each tear, scrape, sting
the crunching of her lemony bones.
She saw him 28 times 28 times a second, hour, a lifetime
while crumbling those pink roses that once lined her waist.
With eyes coated in yellow molasses
with a blouse spray painted in shame
she approached a one-sided window
They didn’t even see her.
They said intelligence was one-toned cement,
certainly no kaleidoscope in the sun.
They said her painted nails would cause a dirty avalanche
formed from ideas of earning one dollar for their dollar.
The nasty necessity of her one life saving 28,
save it — they’ll get to it later.
I once told them that my last name would be M.D.
They told me to go home
they said my hair would get in the way.
So I put it up.
1. Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments. The University of Texas at Austin School
of Social Work Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. 2017. April, 2017. https://utexas.app.box.com/v/uta.