i'm (not) sorry

did i make you uncomfortable?
my sleeveless shirt
my bralessness
my short shorts

i'm sorry
it was hot
and bras hurt my sternum

did i make you uncomfortable?
my tears as i spoke
my detailed account
my tone of voice

i'm sorry
i cry when i'm upset
my feelings turn to salt water
and run away from me

did i make you uncomfortable?
exploring my experience through art
trying to cope in the only way i know how
purging the toxicity of that man
and how he made me feel

i'm sorry
i've never been good at talking about my feelings
that's why i write

did i make you uncomfortable?
calling you out for your lack of support
asking you why you didn't believe me
telling you how that made me feel

i'm sorry
but you made me uncomfortable too
talking amongst yourselves
commenting on whether or not i deserved it
questioning the validity of my account
calling me dramatic for my reaction

did i make you uncomfortable?
not veiling this poem with beautiful imagery
making it easier to swallow
not taking your criticism silently
like you have come to expect from "damaged" women

good. that was the point.


By Corinne Bates

From the author: 

In the wake of the MeToo movement, I have noticed more and more people coming forward about their assaults in creative and emotional ways. Recently a friend of mine did a theatrical response to her sexual assault that happened within her theater department. Instead of being met with praise and understanding, she was told that the piece made people "uncomfortable". I imagine this has happened to a lot of people. I know I wrote a poem about my first assault and had people who told me it was too graphic so I changed it because I was 19 and scared. I wrote this poem because I am angry. Angry that people (but women especially) are being censored or told that the art they have made in an effort to cope with traumatic events is making other people "uncomfortable". 

The message is that we should never have to censor our art to make other people comfortable. Especially if it is about something that has caused us physical harm and discomfort.