Blythe Baird – “The Aesthetic of Rape Culture”


That boy wants you to come over
to Netflix and chill even though you know
that boy’s personal agenda involves neither Netflix nor chill. That boy wants to communicate with you exclusively via Tinder or Snapchat chat. That boy wants to play Truth or Dare. That boy wants you to pick Dare. Now that boy wants to play
Twenty Questions. He is furious when he does not
receive a reply, because that boy believes… because that boy believes
his loneliness is your responsibility. You tell that boy you’re doing homework, so he sends you a stream
of unsolicited dick pics and says, “Ha, ha, then what?” winky face. That boy knows that
the winky face is crucial. That boy won’t waste a single opportunity
to request nudes. You could tell that boy your hamster died, and he’d be all, “Ah, babe,
send me a naked pic of you pouting.” That boy makes you sit in polite silence and watch him play video games. That boy calls you everything
but your name. That boy doesn’t give a fuck
about the best part of your day. That boy hates how you look in that dress. That boy barks at you
in the middle of Target because he doesn’t get the point
of high-waisted shorts. That boy wants you
to stop wearing lipstick. That boy says you look like a pale clown. You stop wearing lipstick. You tell yourself you didn’t even
like lipstick that much anyways. That boy makes you feel smaller every day. That boy wants you to have another shot. That boy thinks you’re,
“so pretty when you’re fucked up.” That boy mistakes your alcohol poisoning
for a perfect opportunity. That boy pretends not to notice
the way your head swings up and down like a limp bird with a broken neck. The word “no” is not
in that boy’s vocabulary. That boy is most in love with you when you are drunk, or silent, or both. That boy leaves handprint-shaped bruises to bloom like bellflowers up your thighs. That boy blocks the door, yanks your arm like a leash when you question him
in front of his friends, makes you apologize
to the back of his hand. That boy pushes you against the wall as if pinning the wings
of a dead moth to cork. That boy presses your voice like a crushed tulip
between the pages of his temper. That boy is finally pleased with you. I’m thinking about the relationship between that boy and rape culture. That boy seems to have
a lot in common with a predator. That boy would never
call himself a predator. That boy would never
call himself a rapist. He thinks those are strong words. He likes to think of himself as ambitious. That boy found so much
empowerment in rape culture that it became his identity, it became a socially acceptable aesthetic. Suddenly it is clear
that that boy is nothing but the reason you didn’t get home safe, the reason you spent more time
in the Title IX office last year than you did in class. I remember when I asked him, “Why do you get to call it a mistake
instead of call it rape?” He looked right at me, and said, “That’s bro code, baby.” I remember when he asked me,
“Why are you so afraid of everything?” And all I could think of
is what a privilege it is to be annoyed instead of afraid. (cheers and applause)

93 comments

  1. I didn't know people still did Netflix and chill.That boy belongs in jail or worse, rape culture is more serious than people care to admit,important subject matter and thank you for being brave enough to share this awesome and thought provoking poem.

  2. Just one line in and I love this poem.
    Edit: the last line hits like a brick wall "What a privilege it is to be annoyed instead of afraid" feels like it brings back memories I wish I didn't have.

  3. That boy is one bad nail out of a box of 1000. People like that are not as common as people think. Men aren’t bad, I promise.

  4. Ion know if it’s cuz I live in a very woke city but “rape culture” just doesn’t exist where I’m at. No one popular (I’m still in high school) does any of those things and the people who do are not liked for a reason.

  5. 0:29 this is actually me I wouldn’t be able to speak straight like actually I make weird noises like “blehHH”

  6. im sorry this was beautiful but

    all i see when she says "dat boi" was that green frog on a unicycle meme dat boi, tomska and friends you have ruined me

  7. That boy asked me out to dinner and said he didn't want his wife to wear lipstick. He called for a second date and got told off.

  8. God, this is amazing. It's sad how true this all is though and it's just ignored and socially acceptable for shitty people to do shitty things because hey, it's "normal".

  9. Holy cow! I (cis hetero white man) was feeling annoyed the whole poem and I was feeling there was something unfair in there, in me feeling annoyed, but I couldn't explain it (because I think of myself as a true feminist; well I do). Hey! I try not to use my power position! and some women use their power positions over me! Thats anoying! but… but well… but they… but… And then it comes: “…what a privilege it is to be annoyed instead of afraid”

  10. You tell yourself that you didn't like lipstick that much anyway. Now THAT ONE hurt. That one hit a different part of me.

  11. Replaying poems like this everyday until men finally understand why these seemingly tiny things are not okay, how they all build up to something so much bigger, death by a million tiny cuts again and again. The number of women I know personally who have been raped, molested, or sexuallt abused by men (and some women) is too fucking high. One is too high. 7, 8, 9, everyone has a story…and that's not even counting their moms and sisters, and the people who can't stand to be women anymore because of the implications of what that could mean. It's too fucking high.

  12. I love Blythe's poetry and have missed hearing from her. This is amazing. Will surely have a found place in my heart decades from now, much like her other poetry.

  13. It’s sad to think that I could have been in her place. Rape culture is wrong. And I am glad that people are coming forward and talking about it because potentially, much like myself, someone will see the signs before it’s too late.

  14. Sexual assault is funny. In our society, sexual assault is comedy gold. We will start taking sexual assault seriously when we stop laughing at it.

    Now kick that boy in the nuts so we can all laugh at him.

  15. I find it funny though that NO GIRL WANTS TO BE USED FOR SEX but uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh none want to be used for love? IRONY!!

  16. "What a privilege it is, to be annoyed instead of *afraid*."

    This just about made me break down due to how much I can relate to it. . .

  17. When they get annoyed because you jump at even expected noises. When you cringe away from a movement that was just a little too fast. Barely make it to the toilet after smelling that one scent
    Using up all the hot water because someone accidentally touched you the same way. Eyes watering because their voice gets just a little too loud or just that tone..yeah you know the "tone"
    Fighting the urge to self-harm because they said it wasn't abuse…it wasn't sexual…it was all in your head. The looks of disbelief when you say your abuser was your mother.. their response is "Oh but you're a girl". But it's your mother!!! You can't cut off your mother. Be a good southern girl and just say sorry for being such a problem she didn't have to raise you. Suck it up!! You have no reason to be crying, you need to be grateful she even had you. It doesn't matter that you claim she dumped boiling water on you, she's a good woman..an outstanding member of the community…why should we believe you when you're obviously mentally unstable. They laugh because a woman can't be a rapist. A sweet nurse who takes care of people couldn't abuse her "problem child" it's just discipline. So you walk softer, curl into yourself so that you look smaller, your hands shake at the smallest sign of confrontation as your brain screams to be ready for the pain that hasn't come in years. The pain you should be past now..the pain that still wakes you up screaming at night begging for forgiveness for being a problem child with empty promises to do better, to be quieter, to be smaller, to sit still longer, to shrink and shrink until you are no longer that problematic autistic child until you are nothing but faded background noise.

  18. i wrote a poem in my english class called "innocent until proven rapist" cuz stuff like this and feminism is important and a big thing in my life but my female teacher was super weird abt it :((

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