So many of the people I love have been victims of sexual assault. This piece of prose is a response to a few people at college who I overheard telling rape "jokes."
They are maps, maps of the places she’s been, maps of the men she’s known, maps of the people who have used her. They are red lines covering her arms, covering her legs, covering her stomach, covering her breasts, red lines of angry welts drawn by a rusty razor. She is wearing a bikini and standing on a scale, sucking in her stomach so that she looks skinnier in the mirror. For the first time in her life, she doesn't want to be beautiful. She wants to be a bag of bones. She wants to wear a size double negative A bra. She wants control. She wants the men to stop looking at her with those devouring eyes. She is starving.
She had once been so beautiful, so full of life. Everyone loved her. But now, all she can think about as she lies in bed at night, running her hands over her cuts and flexing her stomach muscles to burn just…a…few…more…calories, is what did I do to make him go so far? What did I say that sounded like “yes” to him? Why do I feel like a whore? How many pills does it take for me to die? Will dying make the guilt go away?
Her friends tell her it wasn’t her fault. Her parents tell her they want to shoot the man who did this to her. Her therapist tells her she can find a way to pick up the broken pieces that have become her life. Her boyfriend told her she knew she wanted it – don’t worry, it’s supposed to hurt like this – oh, isn’t she such a good girl.
To those of you who enjoy tossing around rape jokes like they’re the funniest things in the world – for those of you who aren’t man enough to realize that words actually have the power to hurt people – for those of you who don’t realize that actually, rape is kind of distressing and painful –
You’re right. Rape jokes are hilarious. The only thing funnier than that is when she commits suicide.