This youtube video from a recent poetry competition has been gaining popularity on social networking sites. The video features contestant Pages Matam, who composes a poem all in reaction to a single sexist comment he overheard from a man on the bus one day. The comment was simply, “You are too ugly to be raped.” This one comment struck his attention because it’s almost as if to say by looking a certain way, a person is asking to be raped. He goes on to describe the pain and helplessness of the many victims he’s known in his lifetime. In a culture where rape and sexual harassment are often a part of an unequal, sexist, exploitative relationship between men and women (Hooks 109), Matam also makes a point to mention boys as victims of rape as well as girls. Girls are generally the expected victims, but Matam mentions young people of both genders in his impassioned speech. Regardless of age and gender, his poem brings shame to anyone who dares suggest that rape was warranted by physical appearance and he moves the crowd with his heartfelt descriptions of the torment victims feel when they are not given the right to consent.
Hooks, Bell. “Seduced by Violence No More.” Outlaw Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994.