“Forced In Place” – Poem on Rape and Rant on “Rape Exception”

photo by Teresa Perin

Forced Into Place

Raped she was and sure it’s her fault,
self-assault.  That she’d been dumb
keeps her mum
till covered up, can sob
choked--could he again
shakes brain –hide, pretend–

Who she is now – raped.  And shell self
shields, with scraped-together husk,
He’d pushed–but how to shush
despair? – her down, must
not tell
–she works hard her face–
forces into place.


The above is my attempt at a Real Toads challenge by the wonderful Kerry O’Connor – to write in a quite complicated rhyming stanza developed by  Paul Laurence Dunbar.  The lovely photo is by Teresa Perin.  I appreciate that this may be a fairly intense subject for a rhyming form–and I don’t think it works very well – but rape has been (horribly enough) on my mind these days.

Here’s the thing.  The recent U.S. debate on rape has focused on certain GOP candidates who have advocated prohibiting abortion even in the case of rape, and others, who may be willing to allow abortion for rape, but have questioned its definition, making distinctions between legitimate rape and “other” (I guess “okay”) rape.  The odd thing about this debate it that it has managed to make those anti-abortion GOP candidates who would allow abortion in the case of rape seem almost moderate, almost empathetic to victims.

This is just not true.   Think about it.  Let’s say that Roe v. Wade were overturned, and we were subjected to a regime of no abortion except for rape, incest, and endangering the life of the mother.  How would this work?   Would the victim have to prove rape?  Would she need to go to court before getting an abortion? Would the proof have to be without reasonable doubt?   (And how long would that take?)  What would happen if she did not initially report the rape?  (There are plenty of reasons for this.  Aside from shame, loss of self-esteem, fear of further humiliation, fear of reprisal – there is also the fact  that many counties and states require women to pay for rape kits often costing over $1000.)

Such a “loosening” of the anti-choice GOP stance would not be a loosening at all; it is a guise.  A woman who’s already been victimized does not need a state legislature to hold her down.

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24 Comments on ““Forced In Place” – Poem on Rape and Rant on “Rape Exception””

  1. Rape is always a sensitive issue, and everyone seems to have an opinion, even those who have not been in the situation. So important as poets to address these topics.

    I thought your second stanza was extremely powerful in getting your message across.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks – yes – well more have been victimized than one realizes. It was very hard to work with the form for this – and should probably have taken more time – am being evacuated for storm, so kind of discombobulated. Thanks. k.

  2. brian miller Says:

    you raise valuable questions k…its gods will anyway you know, ugh, sorry poor humor that…honestly cant believe the idiot said that…these maroons are so out of touch with the world….cant we just get rid of the lot and start over…

    to prove it, thats hard enough as it is these days and the stigma as well that comes with it…nasty business, both the rapist and the politicians…

  3. Thank you for this.

    They tell us to just relax and enjoy it.

    They are all men so sure….they know all about that, dont’ they?

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    You did an excellent job in whipping the form to heel–it is a cantankerous one, I think, for the way we write and think these days. You express(with the enjambment and its scattered feel) the traumatized sense of guilt and shame, and desire to pretend all is well, move on, whatever, many victims have, and your post poem points are all too true and cogent. The stance on the right these days seems to be blame the victim for almost everything, and no government regulation–except of your private lives.

    I can only imagine how frantic trying to write this while being evacuated must have been–great job, and my thoughts are with you to come through safely, and everyone out there.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks; we’ve moved up to Harlem now–higher ground. I think my building would have been fine–and many stayed but the police were really urging people to leave and I think staying adds a big burden to first responders. K.

  5. Helen Says:

    Of course, the poem is intense, timely. I just had this debate with a conservative Catholic last week ~~~ unbelievable his position!!!!!!!

  6. Kay Davies Says:

    Well done, and well said.

  7. Sherry Marr Says:

    An important topic, so well addressed. So sad that the innocent victims carry shame while the perps pay no penalties. Interesting info in your process notes, as well.

  8. I agree with hedge on the enjambment and the effect that has on the feeling of the piece.

    Well done on this difficult form. 🙂

  9. Susan Says:

    Ouch, ouch, ouch–sharp and deadly you lay out the layers of stress and pain and shame of internalized guilt when anger, the anger of this narrator would be more appropriate–and then one must still g home and love and cherish the body and self–not push into place!

    For Sandy–the frankenstorm–be safe, be well–down here in Philly I’ve made preps but haven’t been evicted–so let’s hold each other in the light!

  10. Other Mary Says:

    Wow, you have done a wonderful job portraying the horribleness (is that a word?) of it all. And the horribleness of the far-right nut-jobs.

  11. David King Says:

    I am full of admiration for the poem – and the image – but must confess that I did not know what GOP stands for. Google has given me several answers – plus the fact that most Americans don’t know, which cheered me up a little in case I should have. Now reading the poem again, it has – despite its subject, and like the image – its own beauty.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Dave. I think traditionally, it is the “Grand Old Party.” The Republican Party started around the time of the Civil War, I think – just before. It was the party of Abraham Lincoln. The Democrats (and I haven’t checked this so may be wrong) started much earlier, and traditionally view themselves as party of Thomas Jefferson. k.

  12. Laurie Kolp Says:


  13. Marian Says:

    i wanna hear you chanting this with others in a huge rally. thank you!

  14. janehewey Says:

    the complicated form suits the subject matter. it is not an easy read. I appreciate your head-on approach.-your last line absolutely kills it into place, this harrowing topic.

  15. Lindy Lee Says:

    Splendidly excellent post, both poem & prose…

  16. Margaret Says:

    This is such a heavy subject and one that I hesitate to weigh in on. I met a lady who was a baby of a rape… she was adopted and found out when she was older. She said “I’m worth love, I’m worth life” and I feel she was right. Several studies have been done that show rape victims who abort… don’t recover quite as quickly (if at all). Many who have the baby (adopt it out, keep it) seem to move on with their life …. Now, If abortion happened only in cases of rape… I’d be thrilled – as many rapes do not end in a pregnancy.

    A sensitive subject, one that needs to be considered from every angle… those who are children of rape…

    I think you did a great job with the poem as we all know a woman should never, ever blame herself!

    • Margaret Says:

      I seem to be a lone voice here, so be gentle 🙂

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Ha! Hi Margaret! I so appreciate your lone voice and your comments. Everything you say is super worthwhile. I don’t want to talk of my own experiences with respect to this subject. I would have a hard time personally contemplating abortion for myself. I think the issue has to do with choice; not being forced to do something that is this weighty.

        I also think your comment about being worth love is so important. People do love their children. And yet women still need choices. IN many developing countries especially, women really do not have control of their bodies. They do not have good access to contraception and they are dominated in relationships and they do not have the meant to raise all the children that they may conceive. I just really hate the idea that they/we are not able to make decisions about them/ourselves. At any rate – thanks so much for your comments and your sweetness. k.

      • Margaret Says:

        …as to your comment below… there are LOT of men who will NOT do so well on judgement day!

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