My classmate overhears me
talking about my rapes. How my first
rapist was thoughtful: waited until
I was passed out, never have to watch those reruns
in my head. My second rape is harder to imagine,
though my memory’s intact: each time I run
through the sequence, it seems less and less
plausible his actions could have followed my words
and body language. Later, she approaches,
says sympathetically, “I didn’t know
you were raped.” As if that were a thing
you could tell just by looking, like when
teenagers examine themselves
in the mirror after losing their virginity.
There are many things she doesn’t know
about me; we don’t know each other well,
so that’s a given. But I know what she means is,
doesn’t square away with her impression
of me: too slutty too carefree.
Rape victims should be mousy and withdrawn
or shaking their fists to the sky,
lobbing truth at power. The truth is, sluts
are more likely to get raped: easy access,
bodies stripped of value. And once it happens,
once you’ve been violated by someone
you considered a friend, you laugh
in the face of those who tell you
to be careful in the company of strangers.
Katie Gene Friedman is a queer, invisibly disabled high school dropout and healthcare worker, who enjoys musing on the indignities of having a body. Her nonfiction chapbook Foreign Body is out with Future Tense Books. You can find her prose and poetry in Foglifter, SFWP Quarterly, Hobart, Portland Review, and elsewhere. On social media she goes by @ValleyGirlLift.