Blow-up doll (TW)

Trigger Warning: Objectification, Rape

The Lays There Dead Like and Lets Yuh Fuck ‘er Like Yuh Like!
Made of real flesh — she even bleeds!
Wouldn’t you know? You certainly wouldn’t think.
And if you tickle her just right
She even moans with something like delight
To make you make believe you’re real good in the sack.
Just don’t let her get on top.
She might get ideas…
Start singing like that goddamn puppet.
“She’s got no strings
To hold her down!”
And we’ve had some technical difficulties—
Sometimes she gets it in her head that she doesn’t wanna, you know…ee-er!
We’re working on that, though, and don’t you worry!
She’s much improved upon from the last edition.
You don’t gotta hit her, or strangle her, or anything like that!
Just keep at it, you know — just convince her.
Eventually she’ll just lay there dead like
And let yuh fuck her like yuh like!
If she acts like she’s not into it — don’t you fret!
It’s just the glitchy programming—
We’re working on getting that fixed right away!
If she cries into the pillow — just ignore it!
She ain’t got no feelings to worry about.
She’s just a doll, after all.
But real flesh, don’t you forget!
She even bleeds!
But don’t you worry—
We’ve buffed out the scars
And painted over the bruises.
She’s all nice and ready for you—
And what a bargain, too!
We’ll get back to you with those program updates as soon as they’re ready, my friend.
Now — let’s talk about pricing.

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A Reflection on This PoemI don’t remember exactly when I wrote this poem, but I would put it somewhere in the early months of 2014 — probably near the on coming of spring. It was written while I was still processing having been raped, which was a long and exhausting process.

That process was also easily one of the most confusing I’ve ever had to work through — and I have met with my fair share of confusion. I would go so far as to say that I spend about half of my time being confused by something, be it how to make the computer communicate with the sound system, or the fact that there are people who actually support of Donald Trump ( #makeDonaldDrumpfagain ) as a political power in America, or calculus.

I spent the first twenty-four hours after being raped not really understanding what had happened to me. It was, obviously, an emotionally and mentally traumatizing experience though, in my case, not physically traumatizing. This can account for a lot of my confusion in those initial hours but, in hind sight, I think a lot more of it can be attributed to messages about sexual assault and what it means to be a woman that I had internalized despite being consciously aware of those messages and vehemently disagreeing with them.

My rapist was someone I knew, someone I had considered a friend. It was not physically violent. I did not fight, and I am still trying to find a way to forgive myself for that.

A few years prior I had spent time training and volunteering with Sexual Assault Support Services. I learned a lot about the societal and interpersonal dynamics that lay the ground work for sexual assault and I extended empathy and support to people who found themselves in situations similar to the one I suddenly found myself in, in addition to plenty of others who had found themselves in far worse situations. I have supported many friends who have confided stories of child hood sexual abuse or more recent rape, always at the hands of people they knew and to some degree trusted. On paper, I was well equipped to deal with my situation, but in reality I was not.

I was not prepared to extend to myself the same empathy I had extended to friends and perfect strangers who had been so betrayed and traumatized. I found ways to make his decision to ignore my verbal communication that I did not want to have sex somehow my fault. I found ways to make it my fault that I hadn’t identified how fucked our interpersonal dynamics were before it went that far. I blamed myself for letting him stay the night so he wouldn’t have to drive home intoxicated and I blamed myself for not kicking him out as soon as I realized he was sober enough to drive. I blamed myself for just crying quietly into my pillow instead of fighting back and though I am almost to the point of having forgiven myself for this, I still on occasion find myself fantasizing about the physical damage I could have done to him had I fought — had I hit him and screamed at him, had I taken advantage of what every first aid class I’ve ever taken has taught me about the weaknesses of the human body to really damage him physically in the way that he damaged me psychologically.

My experience is not something that some people would call “legitimate rape” because it was not physically violent. The fact of the matter is that such a violation need not be physical to be a violation or to inflict trauma. Sexual assault is often a far more emotionally and mentally complex event than we like to think, and the simple fact that we are bombarded with ideas of what rape should look like to be considered “legitimate” (perpetrated by a stranger, violent, sometimes even involving a weapon, or involving drugs applied specifically to incapacitate a person, etc.) is what makes processing a rape like this so confusing.

I knew that something horrible had happened but despite all of my training and all of my experience I could not put my finger on what exactly that was. When I finally did put my finger on it, I couldn’t bring myself to call it what it was for the longest time. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many, many other people — women and men, not to mention non-binary folks — who have had similar experiences and experienced similar internal conflict in the wake of such a violation simply because we as a society and as individuals fail to talk about the complexities of sexual assault and the dynamics that make sexual assault all the more possible.

And that, I suppose, is a lot of what this poem ends up being about. In trying to process what had happened to me I wrote a lot — and am still writing a lot. This is the shortest and simplest of the things I wrote by way of processing, and as you can see it clearly focuses on the objectification and dehumanization of the female body as a necessary element of sexual assault. I wrote it as such because this was my experience, but such a poem could easily be written about the experience of a man, or a non-binary person, or even a child.

If you’re reading this and you have such an experience through a differently gendered perspective, and you are creatively inclined, I would like to ask you now to create something to contribute to the ever-widening conversation about sexual assault in our society. Even if you’re not creatively inclined, you could still write something — a blog post or an essay. If you do write something, and you do feel comfortable sharing it with the great and wide interwebz, please post the link in a comment, as I would love to read your experiences. For the sake of empathy and compassion and broadening my own understanding and world view, I would love to hear your stories, if you feel at ease with sharing them.

Blessed be you all. ❤

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5 thoughts on “Blow-up doll (TW)

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience and opening up a dialogue around this. I was raped by someone I knew only in passing, in 2010. I blog about what I went through in through in the aftermath and what helped me heal. I think it is incredibly important to talk about rape, and unpack the layers of this complex and delicate issue.

    Liked by 1 person

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