BY: JESSICA BEUKER
In 1998, Bitch Media published an article titled, “The Collapsible Woman: Cultural Response to Rape and Sexual Abuse.” The article detailed the ways in which the media is quick to label survivors as being debilitatingly sensitive and fragile.
The article states:
“A violated woman is expected to fall apart, and not just privately, either; she must disintegrate publicly, in front of friends, in front of professionals, in front of Starbucks. It satiates our craving for arena-style pathos. We want to cheer our gladiators for bravery while they hack themselves to bits in the ring. If a woman chooses not to play, but to find her own private way back, we say she’s “in denial.” If we don’t see her fragment, we say that she’s not “dealing with it.” We award no respect to women who draw a line in the sand and say, “I will not go down for you.” We either treat them as emotionless or we minimize the importance of their rape/abuse experience because we have not been privy to their personal dark nights.”
The article had a lasting effect on slam poet Sierra DeMulder, who wrote the poem “Paper Dolls” after gaining a new perspective on the issue. She argues that a woman’s worth does not lie in her body or sexuality, and therefore cannot be taken away from her. “You weren’t just violated we tell her,” DeMulder says. “You are an empty museum, a gutted monument which used to hold so much worth.” The overall societal response to victims is that their rape or assault is more than a terrible violation, but also a terrible theft, whereby they lose the most important pieces of themselves.
“The person who did this to you is broken – not you,” DeMulder says firmly, ending her poem declaring, “I will not watch you collapse.”
You can watch the rest of this powerful poem below.
Image source: youtube.com