The best rape joke disguises that very fact—the fact that it is even a rape joke at all. Its audience forgets, or never even realizes, that what they’re being entertained by is horrific. It is a type of miracle, this rape joke. Like Stockholm syndrome or sexual reorientation.
And I was like Man, that’s cool. That’s fun. We laugh at it all the time and listen to the song over and over. A man broke into her house and tried to rape her. A flood of agents called the next day.
Where does rape start? Does it start with a lady doctor? Does it start with some sort of lady CEO? Does it start with a compliment–”You are so beautiful”? A billboard or a full page glossy ad?
No, it doesn’t start with music videos. It doesn’t even start with music. It starts with the puzzles my father bought my nephew. The pieces were made to look like trucks, or animals on farms. His motor skills still can’t quite place them rightly.
Have you ever met a woman who hadn’t yet been raped? Have you ever written a poem almost guaranteed to denigrate the reputation of whomever’d be willing to publish it? Then perhaps that’s where rape starts—with that infinitive–”to denigrate.” Meaning “to disparage the character of.” From “nigrare,” [Latin]: to blacken.
So maybe rape starts there: with a lineage, a meme. Or maybe it starts near 500 Webster Drive.
Sometimes, rape ends. Sometimes rape ends up on the news. Typically, however, this is where rape begins.
This is what is meant when we say: “He’s climbing in your windows. Snatching your people up.” This is what is meant when we say: “Emotions were running high.”
I want people to see my past. That I’ve sexually assaulted Angela. And, before that, classmates, strangers at concerts. Etcetera.
Most of my fans are victims of rape. I’m a rape victim myself. He stands to make serious money. From T-shirt sales, commercials.
This is what is meant when we say: “Hide your husbands,” ultimately. A kind of miracle. An entirely invisible phenomenon.
“The rapist is probably going to get raped in the jail bunk beds.” Anonymous commented this below the video.
Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. It says this on Marshall.edu’s page which aims to define the term rape culture.
What people fail to realize is they have fallen in love with their capteurs. What people fail to realize is You are so dumb. You are really dumb. For real.
Obviously, we have a rapist in Lincoln Park.
I love being in front of the camera.
Antoine, godson, rape culture starts when I address you with that epithet; a title whose inheritance is Leda and the Swan. A title whose inheritance is Lot’s daughters. Apollo and Daphne and our Father, who art.
They’re raping everybody out here. Godson, already now you understand the awfulness of struggling to fit something into something else. Not even knowing why, not understanding the desire…but you’re applauded when your forcings end successful. My little theomachy—my sweet, wee theomachy—your face like an angel’s or a prophet’s, illumined by light from a tablet.
I cried while writing this poem today. Imagining I’d meet you. When I started writing this poem, I was an atheist. What am I now?
I’m tired….of the wickedness of the world. I’m tired. I’m tired of all the lies.
The news report ends with a school marching band performing a remix of a newscast. I don’t know if the story was true, but the story was powerful enough for me to listen.
Starfucker, where does love thy enemy end, and capture-bonding begin?
I will defend my oppressor. I will hide my husbands and wives. I will run and tell that. Homeboy.
In between commercial breaks, the pixels denigrate to darkness. For a second, it’s just me in the glassy black.
This is where rape begins. This reflection I can’t look away from. This reflection that gets consumed, again, as soon as it even appears.
This poem is composed largely of quotes from interviews with, and articles about, Antoine Dodson. All phrases in italics are quotes. There are, however, quotes lifted from others with italicized words and, in those cases, I added the italics myself. Dobson, when he came into mainstream awareness, was a charismatic, 24 year old, gay, black man who became an internet sensation after he was interviewed by local news reporters about his sister, Kelly Dodson, who was the victim of a rape attempt. The family lived at the 500 block of Webster Drive, at the time, in Huntsville’s Lincoln Park housing projects, Alabama. Many of the quotes used were Antoine Dodson’s own words. Others are mined from the commentaries of journalists and reporters.
The original interview footage from the local news source was put to music by an auto-tune duo called The Gregory Brothers. The remix became very popular and successful, to the financial benefit of both The Gregory Brothers and the Dodsons. Us Weekly reported that Dodson had made enough money from the song to move his family out of the projects to a better house (according to Wikipedia 1.6.14).
Three years after becoming an internet sensation, Antoine turned from his identity as a gay man, in large part due to becoming a Hebrew Israelite. In the fall of 2013, he announced that he and his “Queen” would be having a baby.
My nephew, Dean, is also my godson. He’s now 4 and a half years old and his motor skills are progressing nicely.
When I wrote the first draft of this poem, it was dramatically different. It was difficult for me to write, I read it only once at a reading where I was feeling particularly safe to make myself vulnerable and open, and, ultimately, Ihad to put the poem away for a few years before I felt comfortable revisitng it. It was finished in early 2014.
Because of the years-long-editing process, I unfortunately forgot the sources where some of these quotes (for instance, Antoine (I think) saying “What people fail to realize is…”) originated from. The following, however, is a list of some of the resources used in preparation for this poem.
Nick Demske lives in Racine Wisconsin and is a children’s librarian at the Racine Public Library. He is the author of a self-titled book which was chosen by Joyelle McSweeney for the 2010 Fence Modern Poets Series prize. He is also the author of a chapbook called “Skeetly Deetly Deet” (Strange Cage Press). He wants to start a group of hands-on faith healers called “The Doctors.” So we’ll see what goes down with that.