Last night I participated in my first poetry team competition since 2010.
Our team did well. We were the only team to do not only new work, but team pieces.
My team poem about date rape was met with controversy due to its content
It is a poem in which the rapist and the rape survivor describe their experiences in opposite ways.
The male voice believes he did nothing wrong earnestly
The female voice describes a violent rape
This is a poem about my own experience with date rape and the “characters” in it are based on myself and my rapist
The larger overarching issue seems to be that the audience responded to the rapist the way they were supposed to: they liked him.
The audience laughed at his jokes
They didn’t believe me
This poem is and was designed to cause reactions like this, yet it was harshly criticized for the audience sympathizing with the perpetrator
This is not uncommon in our society
It is not my poem that is the issue here, but more of the culture we live in, yet my team mate was bombarded with negative energy and drama that he didn’t deserve.
I was not talked to on these issues, when (since it is my poem and my experience) I should have been.
This is also an example of rape culture. To not talk to the woman about her experience.
I too was upset at the laughter I heard in the audience when my team mate said his lines
when I realized they were not on my side.
What troubled me the most was that the comments made to my team mate were made by women.
That women could not honor my own experience being raped in this manner.
They were upset because they had experienced similar situations
I honor those experiences as deeply as my own
and had anyone come up to me I would have supported them wholeheartedly.
This poem was designed as an experience to show the audience what rape culture is.
To show them their biases and their opinion
To question their beliefs
I am disturbed that me and my poem and my experience caused others to suggest that I shouldn’t talk about my rape and address this social issues
And it pains me to think that because someone might be “triggered” by my experience, that means I shouldn’t talk about it
Which (in my opinion) goes against everything we as rape survivors have been told to embrace
“We will not be silenced”
Lately the slam scene has been obsessed with the concept of “safe space”
Slam will never be a safe space
Since we come into it with our painful history
The history of our culture
Telling me my rape poem isn’t a story that should be told
Is the same as saying
Slavery, homophobia, domestic abuse, racism, suicide, mental illness, molestation, and genocide are not topics that should be discussed either
Since all are triggering subjects.
And THAT is a scary thought.
I entered the spoken word community
As a place where I could tell these stories that no one wants to acknowledge
And it is truly upsetting to see
That my story
Has been deemed to be silenced