Monika Radojevic wrote this poem in memory of all the women who have died from the so-called ‘rough sex defence’ – a murder defence used by perpetrators to explain the the killing or violent injury of women and girls during sex.

At the time of writing, the number of women killed in this manner was creeping higher than 56, hence the title 56+. Now, in the United Kingdom, it numbers in the 60s.

This poem has a trigger warning.

They said ‘you like it like this’ 

And the courts agreed 

I must agree too, because I am dead. 

He said I started it, this man with dirt under his fingernails,

He said it in the silence that stretched between us with my eyes glassy and reflective, letting him see himself,

And spin it how he wanted. 

He said it with purple violets blossoming on my neck,

with blood broken under the surface

Tapping impatiently against skin that still feels warm,

And the courts agreed. 

And when the courts agreed, I agreed too I guess, 

Since I am dead and cannot tell them for myself.

Never mind that those who know me from the beginning explain, quite desperately, that no matter what I agreed, 

I never agreed to die. 

He said I degraded myself, I strangled myself, that day I walked in with my eyes not darting to the exit,

Walking in means you don’t intend to walk out,

they explained,

Any woman who loves sex this much, this hard, 

What can you expect? 

And the newspapers agreed,

They said: she liked it rough, that woman. She was too happy with herself, too confident,

too sexy and she liked to get it.

Get what? The courts ask, 

Get what she deserved, they reply,

 I don’t have the words to tell them that I am just a person, doing what people do,

And someone killed me for it,

Why is that my fault? 

He said I liked it, he said I wanted it,

And becuase I am dead,

It must be true now,

As if the luxury of survival is one luxury too far for the likes of me.

He told them I begged him to do it. I begged him, and he made a mistake. It was just salacious sex gone wrong, bdsm kink tragedy, delicious, frothing, pornographic death with filthy hands around my throat – but remember, i was asking for it-

I am always asking for it they say,

And the papers turn to me for confirmation but I am dead so I will always agree.

Muteness is my forte these days,

Reduced to what I was used for, taken for,

Erasure is my only respite; I am blinded by the sin of femininity.

They said, ‘you like it like this’

And the courts agreed.

He made sure that he had the world’s ear- 

And the papers turn to me for confirmation but I am dead so what does it even matter?

He makes sure that as long as he’s alive,

I will always agree. 

There’s an outrageous god watching over me. 

To read more about this, and the 56+ women and girls affected visit: We Can’t Consent To This

This poem is copyrighted. Please do not reproduce.


56+
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