Responses to sexual assault and the Alternative Sex Ed week

TW: Rape, sexual abuse

As part of our Alternative Sex Education Week, we have compiled a selection of creative responses to sexual abuse. 

 

This Body

This body has been perfectly manufactured for you.
It has been tailored to all the mechanisms of your pleasure –

These tits?
They have learned to grow under your gaze when they were only eleven
To take your stares as a compliment.
They were what made me woman.

This ass?
She learned to allow you to grope and spank her,
That, too, was a compliment
That, too, was womanhood

These hands.
They have learned to adapt to your bulge when you guided them to it,
Pulling tugging stroking until it was to your liking

They learned to do their job when the rest of the body was unwilling
It was easier for them than –

This mouth.
She learned her role at fourteen.
When you shoved yourself in her
She also learned from the magazines how you liked it
How you wanted it
It was deep and uncomfortable, it

Kept you around.
It made me different to all the other
Girls

This vagina.

She was told to keep pretty for you.
That she is too hairy, too ugly, too smelly,
She needs to keep it in check
For you.
She needs to look like the women in your computer screen
This vagina’s pleasure only comes second
You said.
This vagina’s pleasure takes too long, is hard work, is too fucking complicated
For you.

 

After learning these lessons
I have known to keep this body fresh meat
Easy for you to gnaw
And chew
And digest,
Or spit me out.

I was called a slut.
This body acted a bit too well,
It gave in a bit too easily
It had been with a bit too many men,

This body was still not good enough for you.

So I tried again.
Kept the lessons you taught me but shut my legs,
My mouth
Became the girl that I was taught not to be

I was called an uptight bitch.
I flirted with no outcome
I was your friend with no outcome
You wanted results
You deserved results.

I’m not even that pretty
Not even that fit anyway
You said.

This body was still not good enough for you

It would never be good enough for you.

So I dismember.
I unlearn,
Learn anew
Reattach

I am taking my fucking body back
I am learning to listen to it
Where my hands and mouth want to go,
Not what they learned,
What my vagina wants to do,
Not what she was told

It has taken me eight years.

But I am learning that your rules do not apply to this body.
My body.

And that, actually

You were the one that was never good enough for me.

Calu Malta

 

In a Chapel Somewhere

No, my skin isn’t a flavor for you to taste.
My mocha coated, coffee-stained complexion
isn’t permission for your unwarranted attention.

Sometimes I dip my knees to the floor,
chasing the light that dances under the door.
I pray to the voices outside— of tired breaths,
brisk shuffles, the impatient penetration
of keys in adjacent perforations.

No, my body isn’t a relic for you to keep.
My imported, iron-branded possessions
aren’t for you to seize without consideration.

Sometimes I sink my shoulders onto the bed,
staring at the fairy lights above my head.
Wondering to myself: what colours do angels glow
when they’re sad, or depressed, or guilt-stricken—
A suffocating blue, or a crimson that thickens?

No, my name isn’t an anthem for you to sing.
My foreign-flavoured, earth-dusted tongue
is a sacred hymn I’d prefer to stay unsung.

Sometimes I close my eyes and try to sleep,
shaping my body into a temple, jagged and steep.
The morning light enters for its daily service.
It worships me, leaving Him overthrown—
casting a shadow that belongs to my own.

Jessica Ginting

 

Tamed

I get ready for my party tonight,
Straight hair, red lips, fitted dress,
I Walk downstairs proudly to show my love,
My greeting: “what’s that? You fucking mess.”

It’s nothing
I’m joking,
It’s not even mine,
It’s ugly. I hate it too.

You slag,
You whore,
Put on some more.
Who are you trying to impress?

Only you.

I bite back the tears for all it’s worth,
My eyes sting like salt-water sea,
The blouse? The jeans? The chastity belt?
I’ll wear anything that makes me not me.

I believe that it’s easier for me to conform,
No doubt it’s simpler for me to agree,
Though it psyches the animal and feeds the fire
And the only one tamed here is me.

Harriet Poulter

 

This is not a poem. This is a collection of words, lifted straight from his mouth and my mouth and my diary, sometimes whispered, sometimes cried, sometimes scribbled on napkins and lecture handouts.

I experience mania / depression / dissociation. I have tried to submit something because I want people to see how mental illness and rape intersect.

“I woke up ignorant in a forest;
only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice
if one were given me
would be so full of grief, my sentences
like cries strung together.
I didn’t even know I felt grief
until the word came, until I felt
rain streaming from me.”

– Louise Gluck, Trillium

Part 1

you shred me to pieces
I love you you’re my best friend
gentle lilac skull lining shredded to pieces
hands fluttering down my back
stomach turned cats cradle inside out
so safe and warm
crevasses widening red jets pouring
its too warm
slice slice

in my dreams you touch me
you expect people to love you more than they can
hold me
your love is claustrophobic
love me
please be gentle with me I’m a virgin
sometimes fuck me
please be gentle with me I’m a virgin
i wake and you touch me
no!! get it out of there!!
in my dreams – maybe – you touch me

Part 2

i feel like I’m being shredded to pieces
i feel like I’m being shredded to pieces

my body is rust
my body is liquid
my body is acid
my body is dead
my body is tired
my body is dirty
sounds are too loud
please

my body is strong
fuck this fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you
my body exists
my body sees
my body can touch
my body was touched
my body was raped

my body survived

my body survives

 

I AM SO BEAUTIFUL SOMETIMES PEOPLE WEEP WHEN THEY LOOK AT ME
I AM THE SUN AND THE MOON AND THE LIGHT
MY BODY IS IRRELEVANT
MY BODY IS IRRELEVANT
I AM THE OCEAN

 

I AM SO BEAUTIFUL SOMETIMES PEOPLE WEEP WHEN THEY LOOK AT ME

Priyanka Poddar

 

this bus is almost as dark as my eyes were when you put your finger inside me. that night i wanted to meet you. i stayed up till you’d finished your shift. that i wanted to get drunk with you. i even brought my parents’ creek wine. it was in a sainsbury’s bag and you were waitin’ for me on the steps. you give me a hug, it’s pretty warm for october, people might think we were lovers my purple lipstick smudges onto your jumper, i think that mark i made on you was the last time i felt power that night.
i did not want you to call me a ‘delusional woman’. i did not want you to tell me that every time I spoke my mind to a man and he appeared to agree it was probably just cos he wanted to fuck me. i did not want to feel small that night. i am so used to feeling small most nights. i feel the lights of spoons glazing as my eyes are glazing over, the rain in my eyes is reflected by the tears of the sky, the weather is bad just like it was the last time we met and all of a sudden your home is so far away and as the spoons starts to clear he wants to come back to my common room and i want him to go but i really dont want him to go because i cant leave the night on a negative note i hate him. but i need him to like me. after being beaten and compressed i need him to be kind to me and / behold he is, as the wine seeps in to the deepest darkest bits he tells me my eyes are pretty and my mind’s a bit witty. it interests him. i’m special and of course in this i revel, now my bra’s on the floor i cant feel my tangled limbs anymore i’m drunk but i remember saying ‘no’ more than once, but you tell me to shhhhh.
i did not kick or scream when my abuser first touched me, during it i did not rant or rave or call a friend, my mind did not black out as my eyes fixated on some clump in the wall, instead i gave him a handjob. and in the morning i see his eyes lighting at seeing my face revolting when he jokes and tells me that last night we’d had sex. i knew we hadn’t but the whole day shame replaced power between my legs, and i hated that it did because i’m a feminist but i was corroding. it wasn’t till i was in my friend’s arms they were bear her fingers tangled in my matted hair that i finally saw myself as a victim. because i did want to see him that night, when he was doing things my mind didn’t take flight and anyway surely consent was sealed when i didn’t even put up a fight, shush says priyanka. taking my tears in her toy kangaroo she tells me that baby, this is what they do; they plague and pillage the lands of your mind until you’re in their hands begging them to call you sweet baby. but baby, you did not want what he did to you. believe that you did not want what he did to you. what he did was rape. what you’re experiencing is trauma. what you are, in this moment, is an abuse survivor. hold it, it doesn’t define you, it just means that from this day every step that you take is by default a crushing of that day. and of him. it’s hard to hear. but when these words start to build a home in your stomach you will be ready to heal.
see i have realised that to be a woman on this earth is to be learning your body is inherently wrong in the place of science and math. to be a brown woman on this earth is to exist in simultaneous pain and beauty all the time, to be exoticised, dehumanised, traumatised from being brutalised, crucified. for our version of humankind. we unify. because to be a part of a sisterhood is to be watered by other flowers in the dry season, them making you food when you can no longer photosynthesise to make your own it is the process of blossoming and re-blossoming alongside others who you join in falling and climbing, it is reminding each other to tred on this society, scream against the assumption that our quietness is propriety, to know that the warrior queens we carry make us glow whilst we fight. every day. lights the way as we revolt in caves and landmines. for woman. as woman. don’t revolt against your woman cos woman. can’t you see that the tides stop for you? that you break mountains in two just with your power? that you dance when they shower you in shame and like a snail resistant to salt you flower amongst shed blood in a battlefield. that you. are in a state of constant blooming. that you. are beautiful and strong.
i’ve learnt it’s okay to cry. it’s okay to fall out of love with the world for a while. some of the best advice i ever got was to take care of yourself as though you were a child. eat. tend. speak softly to your body. take time. heal slow. and remember. that although they can pluck your petals, they can’t stop your growth. because you have roots. you can self-produce. and you can kill the things that eat holes into your leaves. he is a weed. step on him eternally.
Radhika Jani
To hear Radhika’s piece as it was originally intended, as a spoken word piece, it can be heard here.

poetry image

Photo by Chloë Maughan

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