this is how rape culture feels

1.
when it’s dark
and late
and i’m walking alone
my body is
whirring in time with my frantic heartbeat
and in my mind
the news broadcaster is telling me that
one in three women will be a
victim 
of sexual assault in their lifetime –
well, i went out with two other girls tonight
so which one does that make me?

2.
arms crossed
head down
walk fast
no streetlights?
cross the street
keys between fingers
cell phone in hand
thinking,
it’s so hard to move quickly
in such a goddamn tight dress.

3.
numbers, figures, stories –
they roll off your tongue in conversation
and you sometimes forget that
each
statistic-victim-survivor-horrorstory
was
brutally
brutally
brutally
created
a third of women
will have something fucked from inside them,
adam cracking eve’s chest to pluck an excess rib for himself
taken just because he could
just to store away and rub and polish

4.
this feeling is the kind of unclean
that no amount of showers can fix.

5.
and then,
the questions –
why were you walking alone?
why didn’t you catch a cab?
why were you dressed the way you were dressed?
why didn’t you scream?
why didn’t you run?
why didn’t you fight?
and as you feel your tongue recoil with the hot blast of shame, you think –
why don’t you ask
them
why they burnt a part of me to the ground
and spat 
on the ashes?

6.
you don’t have to tell us
that not all men are
“like that” –
we have fathers, brothers, male lovers too
but statistically,
more of you are
“like that”
than you care to admit
and sometimes, we do not know if we are stepping into
dante’s inferno
or
grandmother’s cottage
until we are well and truly through the door

7.
if you can try and feel me up
in a crowded train at peak hour
i shudder to think what you would do
had you come across me walking home alone

8.
if you claim that you are “neutral”
when it comes to rape culture –
that men shouldn’t rape
but women shouldn’t dress like sluts
and yes, rape is wrong, but what if it’s a misunderstanding –
then you are as far away from neutral
as i want to be from you
neutrality is something
that you can feel
when someone asks,
“do you like glee?”
or
“would you like some more cake?”
it is not, however
an appropriate response
– a humane response –
to the questions of
“do you think people ever ask to be raped?”
and
“if they didn’t say no, that means it’s ok, right?”
your silence
your “neutrality”
is as hurtful as the hands
that so many women have been
invaded by
held down by
pushed up a fence, fingers in mouth, torn apart by

9.
no, i’m not interested in giving you my number.
i hope you understand.

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