By Katelyn Ohashi
Unconscious, awake, a stranger or friend.
These are the stories we must defend.
Far too often we make excuses for these offenders,
But any time you force sexual activity you are a contender.
Was it what I wore? Was I asking for this attention?
They’ll think I’m a whore and there was no dissension.
I laid there stripped of my dignity,
Questioning if it was wrong to speak malignity.
Maybe it was my fault and I’m the one to blame,
After all I am the one with the ripped clothes left bloody and bruised, feeling ashamed.
But how many girls have you done this to and thought it all the same?
I wanted and told you to stop after an innocent goodnight kiss,
But there you ended on top, too weak to fight back all I could do was submiss.
You moved my hand, I removed my hand.
Don’t you understand, what don’t you understand?
This is more than i can withstand.
What if I didn’t even know you and I was walking down the street.
You pushed me down and dragged me somewhere discrete.
Did your actions help make YOU feel complete?
Did I not scream NO loud enough?
People will think this is all a bluff.
Because there are sick people out there that make up this is stuff.
To take away someone’s life and put them in handcuffs.
But you took mine away, and it didn’t seem tough.
It only took you a few moments for you to take everything you stole,
But believe me your everlasting presence has taken much more than just its physical toll.
This weight that I carry as a burden is weighing me below.
I felt worthless and useless, you took my dignity and beat it senseless, you selfish….
There are no words to describe people like you.
This only depicts half of what people go through…
About one in six females are raped throughout their life time,
And out of that about 33% of these women report contemplating suicide while 13% actually do.
This leaves a deeper more permanent mark than any fucking tattoo.
Talk about permanent, let’s talk about pregnancy.
What a constant reminder to live with endlessly.
And that’s not even where it ends because now you gave me an std,
The results came back and read, hepatitis b.
And let’s talk about men that get raped because I know one that has been.
But with a man what excuses will our society begin?
Isn’t he supposed to be tough?
He must be into that stuff…
We’re finally hearing out women isn’t that enough?
Listen to me when I say we have the right to say no without a reason.
A no does not give you the right to continue, that’s treason.
We’re stronger than you now and fighting harder,
There will be change this is just the starter.
At what point will you realize it isn’t yours to take?
Because clearly it didn’t matter that it was our life that was at stake.
I, first, want to start off by saying that I have never been sexually assaulted. I decided to talk about this matter when I first saw Ana Mendieta’s work, Rape Scene, and was further inspired by all of the USA gymnastics sexual abuse charges. I wanted to recreate the details that Mendieta did within her photographs, to accomplish some of the same feelings that come up, by writing a poem.
This topic is extremely important to talk about as there are so many different forms that rape can come in. As I mention in the beginning, we can be unconscious, awake, and the perpetrator could be a stranger or a friend. They can do it in a very aggressive manner or simply by ignoring your voice, body language, or discomfort. When alcohol is consumed on both sides it becomes an even trickier topic because most of the time people are unaware of what they are doing or what is happening. In addition, if it is a person you know you would not want to get them in trouble, so it is easier to stay quiet. I’m sure guilt plays its role as well, while you blame yourself for drinking that much or putting yourself in such a risky situation that possibly could have just been avoided. This is not the only time that guilt plays a part in rape. There are many times when people think that it is their fault for something happening to them, that they somehow asked for it or should have been more resistant. Unfortunately, most of societies feedback tells them the same thing. They will tell you, “you have to take some responsibility for your actions, you shouldn’t have been in their room in the first place,” or “you should have left” . They will ask you “Well what were you wearing?” “How much did you have to drink?” “Did you lead them on in any way or flirt with them?” Firstly, I can assure you it is not always that simple, and secondly, we should be able to go over to hangout with someone of the opposite or even same gender without being forced into something we are uncomfortable with. Giving consent to some things does not give them consent to do everything and consent can be revoked at any point you choose. Women, we are allowed to say no without feeling guilty or being seen as anything but having respect for ourselves.
No one should feel ashamed about being sexually assaulted because if I have learned one thing, it is that at the end of the day what a person does to you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. If someone chooses to ignore and go against our voice and resistance, we will fight against them harder by using our voices and empowering those that come next. We will teach the world to stop putting a stigma around sexual assault victims and show everyone that they will never get taken advantage of again where it actually counts. We will teach the world the everlasting effects that rape can have so that maybe, just maybe, someone will think before they act or listen to someone when they say no. We will teach the world that this stuff happens to men too and when men come out I hope that we are more than open minded enough to listen and understand. We need to understand that when a man gets taken advantage of by a girl that it is not a laughing matter and should not be seen as just another prize. We need to understand that this can be just as detrimental. And when a man gets taken advantage of by another man, we must be more than understanding because that takes a lot of humility for a man to stand up and admit that.
It is obvious that there were years of fear instilled into the gymnast that were taken advantage of and a lot of them weren’t even old enough to understand what was happening at the time. It came from the entire atmosphere we were put in and when someone did come out, they were either paid off to stay silent or the evidence was swept under the rug and ignored.
It is beyond time for change and I stand behind each and every survivor! Together there will be change. Time is Up!