Dragon’s Eggs (NSFW, CW: rape)

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I’m listening to the sound
Of his hip
Slapping on my ass
And if I’ve ever felt less human
I can’t remember it now.

Perhaps because I’m thinking about this moment at all
I’m thinking it would be made better
By dragon’s eggs
Gleaming in the candlelight
For my eyes to feast upon
In the dark.

Though perhaps the darkness is better—
I can’t see his face if he tries to kiss me
Then again, that’s why I’m here—
For lack of those other lips
Those gentler hands—

Though then again that’s why I’m here
On hands and knees
Pounded, sinking teeth into my lips
Not wanting to say it hurts
Trying to convince myself that I did
Indeed
Want to be here
And this isn’t something
Else
And thinking about other things to soothe it all—
About candles in the dark
And gleaming dragon’s eggs.

***

I distinctly remember this being the poem that I was intending to type up next, and I remember deciding to leave it for later. Obviously I didn’t get around to it.

I’m here now, finally sharing it and trying to figure out how to write this “afterword” — what to include and what to leave out. But I did want to share this poem, and I do want to include an explanation, because I wrote this poem while I was still in denial about what was happening in the moment the poem describes.

A part of the reason I couldn’t (at the time) clearly identify what had happened or why I felt so miserable about it, despite all of my training at Sexual Assault Support Services and reading so much feminist theory, is because I’ve still been socialized to think of rape and consent in a very narrow way. Had any of my friends told me this story about their own experience (being a woman who is severely emotionally compromised and drinking heavily to cope and being taken advantage of while in that state) I would have been able to identify it immediately and right away go to reassuring them that it wasn’t their fault, that the person they were with should have been able to recognize their state and be respectful and comforting instead of taking advantage of them. I was, however, unable to do the same with myself. With myself I denied it up and down until it got to the point where my explicitly saying “no” was explicitly ignored and I could no longer deny what had been happening. When I was no longer able to deny it I rushed head-long into self-blame and self-hatred. I started self-harming again as an expression of my resentment toward myself for being so stupid, so weak, so vulnerable.

I wanted to share this poem but I want others to know that rape doesn’t always look like explicit violence. Rape doesn’t always look like force or roofies or threats. Sometimes rape is one person taking advantage of another person’s vulnerabilities, backing them into a corner with emotional manipulation, possessive behavior, and the use of alcohol. Too often, this person is someone the victim/survivor thinks is a friend. Because we are not socialized to think of rape in this way it can be almost invisible, so that we may not understand the lingering psychological and emotional effects because we don’t know how to name what has happened to us.

And I wanted to share this because when people do get backed into that corner, they should know that it is not their fault. Even if there is no explicit violence the person who has backed them into that corner is still in control of their own actions and has the choice to be respectful and responsible, but is choosing otherwise. That is not the fault of the victim/survivor, and I want them to know that.

I was not stupid, and neither is anyone else caught in a sticky, tangly emotional/psychological situation like I was. I was not weak, and neither is anyone else in a similar situation. And last but not least, it is okay to be vulnerable. What is not okay is someone taking advantage of that vulnerability, and if someone makes the choice to take advantage of your vulnerability, that is not your fault.

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