International Women’s Day: On Rape Culture 0 23

Trigger Warning: sexual assault, violence

Her and Him: a three act show

Act I:

Her body— ravished and violated.

His hands— roamed and snatched

Her paper-thin skin, leaving Her crumpled and alone,

tossed away like an empty post-it note: wasted and full of potential. 

He moaned as His fingers did their dirty dance,

slipping and sliding across Her body while 

She wept and whimpered, desperate for the routine to end.

silent tears ran down Her cheeks, like a river down a mountain; 

desperate for escape. His hands— satisfied and squeezing.

Her body— broken and burned

from the suffocating heat of His all-consuming hunger:

a fire to devour the very flesh of Her body, leaving nothing but bones behind.

She clawed at the skin, Her nails filling up with the d.n.a of Him.

“filthy bitch” 

and yet, He continued to take and take

His lips sought to find the treasure Her body promised

until She shut down and all that was left were the biological responses 

Her traitorous body was giving to the hate He mistook as love. 

He stepped away; His work was done. 

not once did He meet Her eyes. not once did He utter a word. 

when She finally pushed through the agony and the sorrow tearing through Her mind

and ravaging Her body, leaving Her breathless and afraid, all She could see

was His back. His back as He danced away from Her shattered body

without remorse.

Act II:

Her eyes fluttered open, the tears drop, drop, dropping

in time with the beats of Her heart. 

Her pulse speeding up then slowing down as fear and shame and guilt 

consumed Her. with shaking fingers and chattering teeth, 

She gathered Her things and ran until all She saw was

a blur of buildings and people, their faces melding together into

one picture that was painted in harsh. angry. strokes. 

a wall of red entered Her vision, 

each brick slowly coming into focus. each breath

clearing up the fog that seemed to take up permanent residence

in Her mind. She crumpled onto the floor, 

first onto Her toes then Her ankles then Her knees then Her chest.

shielding Her body from the prying eyes of other would-be predators. 

Her mouth waging war on Her fingers and Her fingers waging war on Her hair.

all She saw was the feet of bystanders who did absolutely

nothing. 

nothing.

nothing.

and so She stayed there, hidden from the public. sheltered by the city.

blinded from the lights. shivering and sobbing.

after all, who would She tell?

Act III:

Her body was a crime scene. that needed to be

turned in to the police. maybe— just maybe—

they could flush out the filthy and incriminating evidence

from Her damaged body.

Her thoughts tossed and jumbled in Her head. 

little fragments of words drowning in Her brain. 

every word the same. tell. tell. tell. Repeating:

tell. tell. tell. 

face Him in court, have the doctors assess the damage, 

allow the police to question Her motives. Her clothing. Her behavior

as if She was asking for it. asking for it? asking for what?

to be raped to be beaten to have Her clothes torn and mouth bloody. 

oh, yes. She was asking for it. asking to have

Her identity questioned Her body become foreign Her friends become strangers and

family become enemies. “She was asking for it.” 

they tried to stitch Her mouth shut, with a needle named reputation. 

Her pleas for help lost in the wind. this girl, now a statistic, a warning, is 

silenced.

CONTEXT: As a narrative perspective on the entire journey that accompanies an act of rape (from the initial event to the aftermath), this poem tackles the double standards of rape culture by providing readers with an “inside” look, revealing the inner turmoil and harmful psychological and emotional effects of rape culture on rape victims (as a response to the Brock Turner case). In being divided into “Acts,” it dramatizes the events while providing clear-cut divisions between the “stages” of rape.

In solely capitalizing words related to “Her” and “Him,” it brings the focus onto the two characters (the rapist and the rape victim), communicating how rape ultimately comes down to two people, with factors (such an intoxication, clothing, and behavior) becoming inconsequential to the actual horrendous nature of the act. This piece was one of the most difficult to write, especially due to the emotively raw characteristic of the subject matter, as I had to truly wrestle with and explore the confusion and the pain in a way that would come across clearly. However, in doing so, the intended effect is to affect the reader in such a way that leads to serious introspection and evaluations of the harmful effects of rape culture.

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Undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, dedicated to feminist causes and reproductive justice issues. Avid reader and writer, Nutella-lover, and pun-obsessed. There is power in your words and your voice. So use them.

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