Voting Feels Like Date Rape

Voting Feels Like Date Rape

By Elizabeth Harper

I

“You showed up, so you were asking for it.”

But I didn’t know that was what he was going to do.
I thought we were going to have a nice time,
get dinner and a movie.
He genuinely seemed interested in me,
said all the right things.
We shared the same views and interests.

“You should have known he was a liar and a manipulator.
How stupid are you?
Can’t you tell a liar and a manipulator and a charmer
when you see one?”

But I so wanted
to have a nice time,
to believe that someone
would actually like me
and care about me,
listen to me and
try to understand
my point of view.

“Stupid cow. Dumb bitch.”

I thought he might be someone
who would take care of me.
Don’t I deserve to be taken care of?

“No one is going to take care of you.
Don’t you get that?
Slut. Skank. Whore.”

Wait a minute.
I’m the wronged party here.
I believed what I was told.
It didn’t even occur to me that
he would do something so awful.

“What? Were you born yesterday? Just off the boat?
Didn’t your parents, and the schools,
and the church, and daytime television
teach you that everything that happens to you
is your fault? Don’t you get that?”

But who am I supposed to go with?
How am I supposed to tell the truly awful
from the somewhat tolerable
when everyone is lying and
everyone has their own agenda
and nobody tells the truth and
it’s all just spectacle and
manipulation and performance art
and a reality that is really unreal
because it’s scripted to appeal
to the lowest common denominator
or some stereotyped demographic,
some media consultant’s view of who I am,
which doesn't have anything to do
with who I am at all?
What am I supposed to do
when there is no way for me
to know the whole truth because
everyone is lying and pandering?

“Your questions are above my pay grade, bitch.
All I can tell you is, this is democracy.
This is freedom. And this is the best you can get.”

Really? This is the best I can get?
Well, all I can say is, a girl can dream.

 

II

It’s being set up to fail again and again.
By clowns in makeup and expensive suits
wanting the camera to get their best angle,
like creeps who pay for professional headshots
to put on their online dating profiles.
Lure you in. Don’t they look nice.
So clean and well-groomed.
But really they’re grooming you…for abuse.
Psychopaths testing out
how much you’ll put up with,
what lies you’ll believe.

It’s your choice, they say. It’s all up to you.
You can have what you want as long as
you do what I say. Vote for me. Go out with me.
I’m everything you want. I’m everything you need.
I’m what you’ve been waiting for. Don’t be afraid
to reach for what you want, reach for the stars.
Vote for me. Pick me. Choose me.

But really you’re the one
who is being chosen,
like cattle for slaughter,
to be ground down
into pink slime.
A means to their ends.
Fodder for the fortunate.
Trinkets for terrorists.
Notches on a bed post
keeping track of all
who’ve been screwed.
Tally marks on a scorecard
for a game you never could win.


III

Extramarital affairs, locker-room talk,
trysts in bathroom stalls,
stolen kisses, egregious gropes.

Who cares?

Ask me what I want to do to politicians
who try to pass laws restricting reproductive rights.
I guarantee it’s more brutal and sadistic
than any of these dolts could ever imagine.
They don’t care about life or the rights of the unborn.
Their real agenda is to keep women poor and desperate
so they’ll give blowjobs on their arthritic knees for grocery money
and work unpaid overtime at Walmart to take care of the children
they were raped, guilted, or coerced into having.

The politicians who force their decisions
down women’s throats know which side
their toast is buttered on, how to get their joysticks licked,
but instead of getting their way by flattery they get it by
derision, mansplaining, economic exploitation, forced breeding.

I’d like to chop off their penises
and jam them up their assholes
while they’re tied to chairs.
I would mock them and deride them.
Gouge out their eyeballs. Piss in their eye sockets.
Hold their noses so they couldn’t breathe
while I jammed penises that had been in their assholes
in their mouths, down their throats.
I want them to know how angry I am.
I want them to know my hatred and fear it.
I want them to imagine me brutally raping them
every time they even think
about imposing legislation
that affects women.

I hate them all and I want them to die
I hate them all and I want them to die

How can I vote for them when I want them to die?
How can I vote for them when I know that they lie?

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IV

Voting makes me feel so dirty,
as if I’m a collaborator in my own abuse.
As if I’ve been touched by something unclean,
as if I am unclean.

Sometimes there are no good choices.

I understand why Sartre’s
existentialist novel
is called Nausea.
Makes perfect sense.
But my favorite story by Sartre
that I’ll always remember  
because I actually felt nauseated
the first time I read it
is “The Wall.”


Life will make you dirty. That’s not news.
Neither is the fact that government
protects its own interests
and the interests of money and property.
That’s what it’s for.
That   is    what    it   has    always   been   for.  
“Government by and for the people”
is garbage they tell to school children.
To inure them to the status quo;
to make them grateful for their crappy lives.
The people don’t choose the government.
The people are scapegoats.

They tell us, “You asked for it. This is what you deserve.”

This is what we tell the victims of abuse and crime.
This is what we tell those who are ill and dying.

How we like to pretend we have choices and control.
Fucking deluded liars.

 

V

Interesting how some will tell you to
“hold your nose and vote.”
For whom?
The lesser of two evils,
the best strategy,
the best spectacle,
the one who will
protect your interests,
fight your enemies,
save the planet.
Who is that person?
How can we possibly know
with the barrage
of ideology
and propaganda,
outright falsehoods,
not knowing what’s going on
behind the scenes,
not fully understanding
all the issues and moving parts,
an absence of facts and evidence
and logical, reasoned, studied points of view,
only crap and more crap and lies and crap.

Your rapist/ abuser will hold your nose
so your mouth will open wider
as you’re trying to breathe
as he crams his cock into your face.

Now we get the political advice
to do it to ourselves.
Hold your nose and vote.
Hold your nose and vote.

Constrict your own air passages.
Make it harder for yourself to breathe.
Do what you’re told. Help them control you.
You will be stuck in scarcity and survival mode.


We berate others on Facebook
We get into irritating debates with our friends.
Again, an absence of facts of evidence of reason.
Name-calling and threats. Yelling in all CAPS.
Sharing memes, complicit in the propaganda machine.

These shitheads aren’t worth losing friends over.
The spectacle distracts us from our own power.
Why are we emotionally invested
in the bread and circuses rigged competitions of liars?

 

VI

I wonder,
if
nobody showed up to vote,
if
the politicians
would take the hint,
go home
and leave us
all alone.

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VII

Election day is coming up.
It makes me sick just thinking about it.
My friends on Facebook
think it’s important to vote.
Or they think there’s
something important
going on with these
pandering psychotic fools.

I don’t have to vote.
I could just go
to Starbucks
and read a book
instead.

But my voting place
is right next door,
at the synagogue.
I’m registered to vote
because many years ago
my husband (now ex)
said he would slap me
if I didn’t vote
in the big presidential election.
He wouldn’t really slap me.
He isn’t like that.
But when you’re married
you make your best effort
to get along even if
that means compromise.
He’s socialist vegetarian.
I’m anarchist omnivore.
We’re still friends.
We meet at the Starbucks
near his office.
Talk for hours.
He probably still thinks
I should vote.

So I don’t have to vote,
as other good friends
have reminded me.
“If it feels like having
an unwanted dick
forced into you,
you don’t have to do it.”

But I can’t deny
that it’s a choice,
to show up or not.

My father thought
people should vote.
He’d ask, “Did you vote?”

In the end, everything
about this country
broke his heart:
the government,
the “free-enterprise system,”
Ronald Reagan.
During the Iran-Contra hearings,
he’d talk to the TV.
“White man speak
with forked tongue.”
“The problem is
you’re speaking
out of both sides
of your mouth.”

He’d worry if I wasn’t eating.
I’m not eating.

I’m drinking.
We have that in common.
Also, now, high blood pressure.
I’m worried I’m also pre-diabetes.

And about what I’m going to do about health insurance.

The other day I called
and vented to a friend
that I spent the day
trying to stretch out
my vagina with
dildos and sex toys
and on the phone
trying to figure out
what I’m going to do
for health insurance.

I’m trying to stretch out my vagina
because it’s too small.

I want sex that doesn’t feel like rape.

I want a government that’s not on the take.


Or no government at all.
But I know the world isn’t ready.
People aren’t ready for that.
They don’t know how to be
responsible and cooperate
all the time
without rules and bosses
telling them what to do.


I could give up on sex too.
But I’m not sure I want to.

If I vote, I will be stretching myself,
forcing myself to do something
I don’t want to do, don’t believe in,
would never choose.


Always the internal debate.
To force myself or not.
Some things are hard
but that doesn’t mean
that you shouldn't do them.
Sometimes things are hard at first
and then the more you do them
the easier they get.  

You can get used to
all sorts of things,
but should you?

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