I decided I need to become better at public speaking so I’ve started subjecting myself to the horror of, well, public speaking. I started as a guest speaker at a Durham Rape Crisis Centre volunteer training session, my second and most recent attempt was a literary reading at Oshawa, Ont.’s The LivingRoom Community Art Studio.
While writing my reading piece “She Asked For It” I was thinking about all the bystanders who watch their friends/sisters/peers get physically and verbally abused by their partner, or the adults who don’t stand up for abused children. I was thinking, too, about the public backlash women receive when coming forward about abuse, especially publicly like in the cases of Jian Gomeshi and Bill Cosby. There is this strange obsession to defend the most popular and charming, and this terrifies me. Almost as much as public speaking.
Here is the written piece read that evening:
She Asked For It
It seems so obvious to the outsider, get hurt, you go.
And that’s what makes them outsiders: the dichotomy of you and them.
So when that person makes those fists – just like dad used to make – and they tell you it isn’t just you and them, it is the two of you against the world, that’s all you got.
White trash can’t get hurt.
As Other, they can not feel.
The beatings and mockery vye for what hurts most, but don’t dare take first place from isolation.
Teachers ignore signs of quiet and retraction amongst bouncy, vibrant peers.
The church keeps secrets hushed behind decorated doors.
The police don’t write up, they write off.
Nurses say, “We don’t use the word rape here.”
A distance is created.
Friends don’t want to believe it.
She asked for it.
They watch and do nothing.
Drinking buddies before hoes dominates so-called progressive punk rock mantras.
Left alone, seeing your valueless and disposability, even you can’t stand being by yourself.
Prosecutions doled by class bracket dictations.
So, you have this guy – who makes fists just like dad used to make – who makes it both of you against the world that doesn’t want you.
It’s all you got.
A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna is in her first year of the gender and women’s studies program at York University. She also maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.