“The Rape Joke” by Patricia Lockwood has gotten so much attention it just went viral.
Currently living in Florida, Lockwood’s poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Poetry, Agni, Denver Quarterly, The New Yorker, and American Letters & Commentary. However, her latest poem is making quite a stir on the web within three hours of being published, generating commentaries and Facebook status updates along with 10,000 Facebook likes.
This is a unique take on the controversial topic compared to what is usually reported about rape. Reportedly, the rape joke poem has also casually reawaken an interest in poetry among those who read it, and most importantly, reinvented how people talk about rape.
An excerpt of the poem can be read below. To read the rest, please follow the jump to where Lockwood originally had her poem published at The Awl:
The rape joke is that you were 19 years old.
The rape joke is that he was your boyfriend.
The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.
Imagine the rape joke looking in the mirror, perfectly reflecting back itself, and grooming itself to look more like a rape joke. “Ahhhh,” it thinks. “Yes. A goatee.”
The rape joke is that he was seven years older. The rape joke is that you had known him for years, since you were too young to be interesting to him. You liked that use of the word interesting, as if you were a piece of knowledge that someone could be desperate to acquire, to assimilate, and to spit back out in different form through his goateed mouth.
Then suddenly you were older, but not very old at all.
The rape joke is that you had been drinking wine coolers. Wine coolers! Who drinks wine coolers? People who get raped, according to the rape joke.
The rape joke is he was a bouncer, and kept people out for a living.
What is your opinion about Lockwood’s rape joke poem? Is it an attack on all rape jokes or does it have a deeper meaning?