Just by Looking by Katie Gene Friedman

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Rape victims should be mousy and withdrawn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.