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Dear Reader,

When did you last think about pronouns? Was it in fourth-grade English class? When was the last time you included your pronouns when introducing yourself? Or how about when you asked someone how they identified before diving into conversation? For something as integral to our identity as gender, we often assume but rarely verify.

Until the past year, I was ignorant to the differences between sex and gender; I regularly made assumptions about people’s identities and never thought to check, but gender identity, like all parts of ourselves, is more complex and multifaceted than we usually realize.

For those of us whose exterior appearance matches our interior sense of self, it can be difficult to understand the struggle of your biology conflicting with your identity. I didn’t understand why it was so crucial that I go out of my way to re-learn how to address people; I didn’t understand that by ignoring someone’s pronoun choice, or not thinking to ask, I was disrespecting who they are.

*   *   *   *   *

Welcome to MVMENT Magazine’s second issue! In some ways, I was more nervous about this issue than the first. It meant that we would have to be able to replicate what we did for the first issue; and what if that was all just luck? In this past month, however, we received more submissions than before. I am incredibly grateful to all the contributors, liaisons, editing teams and board members that worked tirelessly to make this possible. MVMENT wouldn’t exists without everyone who has dedicated their time and their passions to it.

We never set themes for our issues, but we look for common threads within our submissions. In the past month, many of our submissions have centered on gender and sexual identity. Through a variety of mediums, they help us intimately understand the challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. MVMENT is more than one person, one story or one issue; we continue to reflect on the lived experiences of our fellow students as they encounter problems of sexual assault, gender and sexuality inequality and finding their place in their communities.

As you read, question your own relationship with your identity. I am incredibly grateful to you, reader, for your continued support for MVMENT’s cause. These conversations are a fundamental step in changing the status quo that we have grown up in. A society where people have to choose between their safety and their identity is not a society that we want to live in.

Read, engage and discuss. This culture can only survive in silence.


Vinayak Kurup
Editor In Chief

Trigger Warning

The writing, imagery, and other forms of expression below may contain explicit descriptions of rape, sexual assault, relationship abuse and other forms of personal violation.


lit. art

by Aaron Magloire

We spoke of it once.
Some cousin: hands a little too careless,
heart a little too selfish,
power just the right all-consuming type.
We spoke of it once:
an unlawful touch given a few bobbing breaths at the surface
before it was pulled down under,
We spoke of it once before she was told that these
are not the things one speaks of.

I have not asked about it since.
I don’t know how.
I tell myself it is not my right
to excavate old pain
or to try to make healing hands
from my all too ordinary fingers.
I tell myself that it has been five years,
that maybe it doesn’t bother her as much

I don’t know,
might never
We spoke of it once.
From that once has festered a fear
that maybe she is not the only one,
that other mothers and daughters and sisters I know
have their own careless hands and selfish hearts and powers just right
still ringing in their heads:
abuse untold —
spoken of once,
then silenced.

But I don’t know.
Might never know.
I tell myself it has been five years.
Maybe it doesn’t bother her as much

Illustration by Ollie DeFazio


Every morning I do something that most people do. I get dressed. I pass my hand over the collection of hangers holding my collared shirts and dresses. Unlike most people, I don’t know what my style of clothing is. Sometimes I wear skirts and sometimes I wear suits, but I’ve taken a long time to get where I am. I’m comfortable dressing the way I wish to dress, and I’m comfortable with my identity.

I’m agender—or at least that’s what makes the most sense right now. I’m not a woman, not a man, but maybe I’m something in between. And I come out every day. It’s not just the long talk with my parents and the social media post. Sometimes, I come out in grocery store lines, in classrooms, or in bathrooms. I wish I didn’t have to; I wish I was something in the middle or maybe nothing at all. People try to understand and most times they do it with love in their heart, but it is hard to explain something that I only feel. This feeling of hope is a common theme in everyday life, and I wish I weren’t an exception.

My current boyfriend is as confused as I am. We have long conversations about what the future holds. What will my husband call me? Wife? Spouse? Husband? What will I use as a prefix? Mrs.? Mx.? Mr.? What do I do when someone uses the wrong pronouns? Are there improper pronouns? Will there ever be a day when the words I use to identify myself aren’t underlined in red in Microsoft Word?

To all of these, I have one response.

At least I am not alone.

Sure I feel lonely at times, but many people in my life—my boyfriend being one of them, try to help me understand. While I know no other agender people in my everyday life, there are hundreds of support groups online and live chats for those who are a bit lost. I’m not sure what it is precisely that helps so much, but something is working.

I think I know why I’m bad at feeling like a woman. The first person who treated me like a woman didn’t treat me to anything at all.


Two years ago I was in the first of a set of abusive relationships. Max was my first partner, and from the start I knew that this wasn’t the fairytale I desired. Each time I said the L word, he would hesitate and look up, to the side, and back at me.

“Thank you.”

I didn’t make anything of it at the beginning, because he told me that he wasn’t ready to say it yet. I had no problem with that. Then it happened for the first time.

I remember each second of his palm on my face—I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the way that it felt. He was mad at his parents for something that they did or said to him. He was ranting to me, and I was listening. I cared. He began to yell. I tried to put my hand on his shoulder to calm him down, but he slapped me before I could do anything. My face stung. No one said anything for thirty seconds. He started to cry on my shoulder. All I could hear were the apologies; I didn’t understand the actions.

At first he would slap me when he was angry. Slapping turned into punching. It always ended with an apology. Every time I saw him, I would come up with a new and more efficient way to cover the bruises. I didn’t understand the hurt that this was doing to me. Not only physically, but emotionally. His words of hate and disgust made me hate myself and my body. I was still convinced that I loved him and that he loved me.

Every time I saw him, everything escalated. He hated how mannish I dressed, so I stopped.


“You’re perfection, you know,” Max muttered while throwing a ball towards the ceiling. He asked where my parents were and peered up from his position on my carpet, lying flat on his back. He stared up at my bedroom ceiling, covered in glow-in-the-dark stars that had lost their shine. I said that my parents were out of town, and he nodded. I turned around in my chair and watched his eyes connect each star. I scoffed and swiveled back around to my screen, ignoring his rant about his older brother’s grades. Max pushed himself up and walked out of the room. Grabbing his shoes, he yelled something, but I wasn’t paying enough attention to hear what he said.

Suddenly, the back of the door slammed the door stop as he stormed back in with a rope in his fist, pushing me into the bathroom. Without hesitation, Max slammed my body onto the cold tile floor, marble that had been stained over the years from a pearl white to a dark gray. My head hit the marble with a crack. Before I could feel my skull to assess the damage, he cackled and clenched my wrists. Gripping my hands together, he tied them to a rusted towel rack. I trembled looking up and seeing him five feet above me, unzipping his pants. I ducked my head and clenched my jaw, and tried to hide from being so exposed, but he pushed me back up. Max thrust himself into my mouth which he had forced open, and I couldn’t breathe.

It felt as though I had no escape. My weekends consisted of being trapped in his room, tied to his bed.

I’ve had nightmares ever since I got myself out of the situation. Terrors upon terrors inhabit my mind. I wake up screaming most nights now, and I feel that a lot of people look at me and stare as if I’m this battered old rag; nothing more than a broken teacup. I thought I wouldn’t think about it much. Sure, it sounds reasonable to get over it.

Many years later, my next love and I decided we were ready to have sex. About three minutes in, I just began crying. Not because I didn’t want to feel close to this person, but because every time I closed my eyes I saw Max on top of me, hitting me, tying me up. Not only did he ruin me, but he has made sex a lot harder for me—even with the ones I love. My boyfriend has started to pour gold into the cracks that he made, but it’s not a natural process.

Why do I still feel broken? I will never know why he did such a thing, why those who have helped me have decided to do so, why I don’t feel like a woman. All I know is that I will never understand why it is more shameful to be a victim than a predator.

Hello, My Name Is


by Devon Whalen

Do you remember learning your own name? Turning the sounds over in your mouth, practicing how to respond when you hear it, realizing that, for some reason, those few letters somehow represent your entire being? Do you remember? Probably not. Most people don’t.

I do. I learned my name in the summer of 2016. I’m not the only one who remembers this process; lots of people choose to go by nicknames and some, like me, even change their names entirely. Linguistically, scientifically, and personally, names have a deeply rooted power. So what, exactly, is in a name?

The father of modern linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure, defines a word as a sign. Signs have two main parts: the signified and the signifier. Take for example, the sign “dog.” The signified is the actual thing you are referring to, in this case, a furry little animal with four legs. The signifier is the sound pattern that refers to that object, so the actual word “dog.” The relationship between the signifier and the signified creates a full understandable sign—you say “dog,” and we both picture man’s best friend. But Saussure also posits that this all-important relationship is completely arbitrary. The very existence of other languages seems to confirm this theory; if both a french speaker and I see a furry quadruped, I’ll call it “dog” and they’ll call it “chien.” Neither of us are wrong—those two words sound nothing alike but both refer to the same thing—so clearly, signifiers and signifieds have no real connection besides the ones we give them.

This is where I disagree with Saussure. I personally think his theory of arbitrariness is completely valid, but only on the level of individual signs, and only if the signifier has never existed before. But within a whole sign system, or language, I would argue that words, especially when it comes to names, are anything but arbitrary.

Despite Saussure’s theory that signifiers hold no intrinsic relation to signifieds, multiple studies have been conducted trying to determine how they’re actually related. In a study aiming to discover the extent of racial bias in the labor market, Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan responded to a series of “help wanted” ads with fictional resumes, changing only the name of the applicant with each submission. Certain resumes had names selected to sound “black,” and the others “white.” They had identical qualifications otherwise.

The study found that applicants with black sounding names had to send out fifty percent more resumes than their white counterparts in order to get the same number of callbacks. The original aim of the study was to expose racial bias; however, it’s all based in linguistics. There weren’t any pictures of the applicants sent—only names. Although Saussure’s theory might hold up in a vacuum free of all societal biases and conventions, researchers in the real world took advantage of the relationships within our sign system and had people consistently connect certain races to fundamentally raceless signifiers. This experiment proves that the connotation of words within a sign system prevents full arbitrariness. People’s jobs, their livelihoods, are clearly influenced by their signifiers. Other studies have shown that names not only influence society’s perception of a person, they affect that person’s perception of themself. Christian kids with strong Biblical names, for example, were shown to have worse self image because they couldn’t measure up to the mythical feats of their namesakes. Once a name has existed in society and formed its own relationships with everything else, anyone with that name can’t possibly exist separately from that. They have no choice but to take that baggage on with their own identity.

My own name change came from the disconnect between my name, the signifier, and me, the signified. My deadname represents so much of me that I want—I need—to forget. I won’t be using it here. For ease of explanation, take “Natalie” as a placeholder. Natalie has a lot of connotations, but the one I disliked the most was its status as feminine. When you hear a name like Natalie, either consciously or subconsciously, your own biases arise, typical images of what a girl looks or acts like might come to mind, and generally you form a basic blueprint of what I’m going to be like based purely on “Natalie.”

I had issues with this. Many. The primary one was that I as a person really don’t have a strong connection to femininity. I am a proud transgender person, and very much not a girl. So if introducing myself meant that people started seeing me through this name-based lens of womanhood, that was a problem. Because my signifier was so thoroughly unrelated to my signified, I felt insecure in my identity; I genuinely thought there had to be something wrong with me. Eventually, in eighth grade, I decided I wanted a new name. I knew I had to get the connotation right. I really didn’t want it to be particularly gendered either way. Most of all, I wanted it to be something that, unlike Natalie, I actually felt connected to. I started going by Devon at camp the summer before I entered high school. Introducing myself that way for the first time was one of the strangest and scariest experiences I’ve had. Even after jumping over that hurdle, re-learning my own name was hard. Ultimately, though, I got far more in touch with my gender and who I am as a person in general as Devon than I ever could have hoped to as Natalie.

Because of the way words work, the experiments suggesting a person’s name and their experience of life are linked, and the way my name and identity helped shape each other, I think that the relevance of names in our lives is a powerful and greatly underestimated force. Think about what that means for you. I have learned so much about myself through my name. What does yours say?

We’ve Got Diverse Souls

“We’ve Got Diverse Souls” is the beginning of a photo project dedicated to emphasizing societal gender expectations. Where I’m from, boys are supposed to be tough and never show emotion. Those that display their sensitive side are sometimes shunned and labeled as weak and feminine. This culture serves to ostracize and box young men and women within societal constructs, while incorrectly relating traditional ‘femininity’ to weakness. My photo project is aimed at tearing down those walls, letting boys and girls be who they are and demonstrating that ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ are not rigid definitions but two labels of many.

There’s Two of Me

The intent of this photograph is to highlight one eye and to leave the other cast in shadow, which speaks to the struggle of presenting authentic sexual identity. The right side of the face is illuminated, but the eye is dark, which represents the inauthentic facet of ourselves that we portray to the world. The left side of the face is in shadow, but the eye is bright, representing the more true versions of ourselves that we keep hidden.

Split Self-Image

The aesthetic purpose of this piece was to create as much visual dissonance and conflict as possible. The result was a triple exposure, covering a portrait with two other clashing images. The subject is trapped behind crisscrossing lines of light, like a child behind a chain-link fence. The piece speaks to coming out, of wondering what it’s like to be free of restraints, but also afraid of what will happen. In addition, the viewer is able to look both the at subject himself and from his perspective.

Beyond the Curtain

This piece seeks to convey how the people with the most to say often end up stuck behind a barrier. To the subject, the sheet in front of them is impenetrable, and it obscures them from the rest of the world. To the viewer, however, the sheet seems like an obstacle that is easily overcome. The subject is being limited by something that is not nearly as powerful as they are.

Saying “Uncle”

by Trevor Gonzalez

My dad reclined in his reading chair, his spectacles resting on the edge of his nose. The scent of my mom’s basil pesto lingered around the house as she scrubbed our dinner plates in the room next door. I tried to perch myself on the couch, balancing an imaginary set of spectacles on my own nose, as I read the American Girl book my mother had gotten for me at the library. This was our usual nightly routine: as my mom cleaned, my dad and I moved our dinner conversation from the kitchen to the living room, where we would settle into our respective reading spots. Out of the warm haze, a thought popped into my head.

“Dad.” His spectacles remained fixed on his book, but his bushy eyebrows rose in acknowledgement. "If Ryan never has kids, I’ll never be an uncle, " I reflected.

Dad’s face snapped up from Thomas Aquinas’s Summa contra Gentiles to look directly at me. His wire reading glasses fell onto the living room carpet. Unencumbered eyes stung my face.

“Elizabeth Grace, you are never going to be an uncle,” he snapped. His piercing face, the one he only ever used when I was in deep trouble, split into a wide smile. “You’re going to be an aunt,” he assured me, and returned to his book.

My arms prickled, trying to escape a body destined to become that horrid word: aunt. Every muscle in my body seemed to fold inward, recoiling at the thought. I wanted to reel back those words. I wanted to do anything possible to never let my dad’s eyes dig into that soft, tender part of me again. I didn’t yet have the words for what I was feeling, so I buried it as best I could. Only later, after a lifetime of unfelt emotions gnawing at my psyche, would I realize the consequences of trying to bury all the disappointment and shame. All I knew then was that I wanted to grow up and read like my dad, to speak with his long sentences that seemed to make the world make sense; I wanted to grow up to be a man that was half as good as he was. It had never crossed my mind that there was something deeply wrong with me. But my father’s eyes had issued an absolute judgement: my feelings were wrong. I was inherently wrong.

“I-I…I m-meant Aunt,” I spluttered up towards him, twisting strands of my hair, held captive in two tight ponytails. I realized he’d stopped listening. I stopped twisting. I held one pigtail in my stubby fingers and cursed that hair: You’re why I can’t look like Dad and be an uncle someday. I glanced up into the kitchen and saw my mother, like every other night, still cleaning our mess. She tucked her long hair behind her ear, and I shuddered, reminded of the pigtail sitting poised between my fingertips. I loved my mother very much, but there’s a difference between loving someone and wanting to become them. There was something I couldn’t name in my bones that screamed when I thought of becoming her, growing up to become a woman. My hand clutched the locks tighter. You’re what did this to me. I could get the scissors. Right now. And cut you off.

Growing up my extended family all claimed that my mom and I looked alike, but everyone who got to know me said that my dad and I talked with one voice. I had his dry sense of humor, they said, his laughing blue eyes, his smile that could make the whole world seem bright, even just for a moment. I was my dad’s son inside my mother’s frame. Maybe, if I just cut these pigtails off…

I rose, intent on getting those scissors—

Elizabeth, you’ll never be an uncle.

I faltered, the finality in his voice crushing my small frame.

Elizabeth, you’ll never be an uncle,” his words rung in my ears. The damnation crescendoed to a scream, splitting my head. I couldn’t hold back tears any longer. I broke into a run.

“Goodnight, Dad. Love you,” I called. He will not see me cry. That’s what a girl would do.

“Goodnight, beautiful daughter,” he called after me.

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

Locker Room Talk

by Bridget Livingston*


Everyone was shocked when Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape was released, and rightfully so. That shock then turned to disgust, anger, and fear. As if Trump’s infamous “grab em’ by the pussy” line wasn’t enough to make the tape a disgusting farce, he proceeded to brush off his comments as “locker room talk.” I remember hearing about the tape for the first time during my freshman year at a new high school, when I was suddenly injected into the hypermasculine culture of an all-boys dorm. “Locker room talk” is dangerous. And it does not stay in the locker room.

I’m a closeted transgender girl, and I would say that my outside is very much masculine enough to disguise my feminine inside—at least for now. I dress up every day trying to find the balance between looking masculine enough to stay secretive and feeling feminine enough to get through the day without a panic attack or a trip to a counselor’s office. Even though I don’t identify as male, I live in a boy’s dorm, play on male sports teams and use the men’s restroom. My appearance and outward identity both have allowed me to hear conversations and experience situations that someone assigned female at birth would not have been able to experience.

Early in my freshman year I hooked up with a girl for the first time. I came back elated, but I didn’t expect the barrage of questions that would meet me back in my dorm. Oooh, good going man, so what did you get her to do to you? Was she nice dude? How far did you get? You know you’ve got to move fast because sometimes they’ll get shy and then you can’t get head. The more I listened to the guys the more disgusted I became, but I was still so happy to be “fitting in” that I answered the least lewd of their questions: Yeah, she’s really friendly, and obviously I’m really attracted to her. I’m not moving too fast, I just want a relationship that will last. I don’t want to rush her into anything she’s uncomfortable with.

I went to bed, my mind swimming with thoughts. I was confused. The boys in my dorm had asked so much about something so private; if this was how my role models and peers were acting, then maybe it was okay? Should I have explained every detail to the room full of near-strangers?

My questions were answered across the next few nights. Whenever someone would come back, panting from running so as not to be out past curfew, all of their friends would gather around. It turned out that I was expected to share every little detail of my night’s encounter: where my hands had been, where her mouth had been, how I felt afterward, what was coming next and so on. Virtually no privacy was left for my partner: compulsory exposure for someone who could not consent simply because she was not present. When I finally accepted myself as transgender earlier this year, I looked back on those first nights and thought about myself in my partner’s shoes—how upset I would be if all of my secrets were public knowledge. As someone who is mandated to wait almost 3 years to receive sex-reassignment surgery, I need some of my secrets to stay secret, not only for my dignity but for my safety. But this is just round one.


“Trickle down banging.” Undoubtedly a peculiar and distressing idea, it was one of the first things taught to me at the start of freshman year. Allow me to explain it to you as it was explained to me: basically, the most attractive guys are able to score with the most attractive and generally the youngest girls. At the other end of the spectrum, all of the less attractive and generally odious guys get with whatever girls are left over, the idea being that these girls will be so desperate if they aren’t selected by a particularly attractive or well adjusted football star that they’ll go for any guy who walks by. Around the dorm and around the school, these less attractive male prospects use other guys to find out which emotionally vulnerable, insecure or single girls they might have a chance with. The “trickle-down” continues through dorms, in bathrooms, in student centers, in locker rooms, and on sports fields.

I will forever remember the first moment I heard the term and how it felt to sit there and listen as it was laid out to me in agonizing detail by a predatory senior. For me, most days are spent worrying about whether anyone will ever love me. Many days I feel like a freak, thinking about all of the surgeries, drugs, and tests that my body will need to go through so that I can get anywhere close to feeling okay. Then I think of myself as one of those girls—one who is scared, one who needs validation, one who isn’t whole and thinks she needs a partner to complete her life. One of those girls who becomes prey. I look back now and wonder what would have happened if I had said something to that senior, tried to say he was wrong, that he needed to change something about his behavior. But I know that I would have just been called a pussy, a fag, or just been slammed into a wall.

This isn’t all. There will always be more; that is the most important lesson I have learned from living where I have. If you think that your most personal information is a secret, you’re probably wrong. Everyday I hear about another girl’s cup size or how she gave a guy head and then kissed him with cum in her mouth, and he broke up with her because of it. Obviously there are plenty of good people out there, but in a hypermasculine environment, even those of us who know better can get sucked into toxicity. Take it from someone who just wants to look out for the older and younger sisters who deserve better. It’s not just locker room talk, and it’s not just talk. It’s everything and everywhere; it’s our culture.

Illustration by Bridget Livingston*

*Due to the author being a closeted transgender student and fearing for her safety among classmates, an alias is being used.

Bathroom Pass


by Hannah Hachamovitch

Still Human



After a really rough day during my freshman year one of my best friends told me to meet him in the basement of his dorm. He promised he had the perfect way to cheer me up. When I went to meet him we sat and talked; a couple minutes in he started tickling me. I was laughing hard and breathlessly gasping “no” and “stop” through fits of giggles.

“It’s nice to see you smile again,” he said. “You have such a nice smile.”

I wasn’t used to being complimented by boys. I blushed. Then he pushed my body to the floor with a piercing look in his eyes. I hadn’t stopped giggling. He got up and the lock to the basement door clicked softly. The lights went dark.

“What are you doing?” I asked him playfully. “Are you afraid you’re going to lose?”


Suddenly, he was directly above me. His body dropped on top of mine, knocking the breath from my lungs. He sat on my hips with his legs straddling my waist and used his forearms to push my back to the floor. One of his hands encircled my wrists and held them above my head, pressing them into the scratchy carpet. I choked on the words I wanted to yell at him. It wasn’t until he had my bra up to my chin that I finally managed to gasp out one word: STOP.

“Just relax.” He whispered it over and over again with a softness that seemed so out of place. I focused on the soft hum of the refrigerator, the dim stream of light leaking through a gap in the curtains across the room, the carpet rubbing against the back of my raw wrists, anything but the nauseating words he was still whispering to me.

Suddenly, I was angry. I drove my knee sharply up into his back, and he doubled over next to me. I ran for the door, pulling my shirt down as I went.


During sophomore year I went to a school dance with a couple of girlfriends. We were loitering around the edges of the dance floor until one of my friends suggested that we dance in the middle. “It’ll be fun!” she promised.

I took my friends’ hands in my own and pushed towards the center of the writhing mass of sweaty bodies. One by one their hands escaped my grasp and I was alone, bodies towering over mine. I swayed to the music, dissolving into the crowd until someone’s arm singled me out, circling my waist, yanking me towards them.

Before I could even turn my head to see who the arm belonged to, a stranger’s fingers were inside me. That boy’s hand inside my shorts froze my body and my mind. I couldn’t feel. I couldn’t even think.

As soon as the song changed I started stomping on the feet around me as hard as I could until the arm released me. I shoved through the crowd, strobe lights flashing and glaring around me. Abandoning my coat, phone, ID, and keys, I ran for the door until my body hit the sidewalk pavement. I never turned my head to see whose fingers it had been. I never looked back. I wish I had.


After the incident with my best friend during freshman year, I sobbed even when there were no tears left. I kept my assault a secret for almost a year, yet I faced that boy everyday for months. I stopped feeling anything, becoming clinically depressed and developing claustrophobia and social anxiety.

My first assault filled me with so much raw and unidentifiable emotion that when I was assaulted again, I just went numb. Everything felt dull and empty. All that unbearable emotion that I had lived with for months just disappeared until skin and bones were the only part of me left.

I starved myself so that the hunger pangs could force me to feel something. I kept myself awake late at night, playing loud music through my earbuds. I sat in my room with the lights on and forced myself awake so the exhaustion could remind me that I was still there, I was still human.

But eventually the hunger and exhaustion became routine. So I turned towards exercise to help me feel again. Each day after classes I ran until my legs were too shaky to continue, so the pain would remind me that I was still there, still human.

I ran like that every day for almost three weeks until one night I slipped and cut open my knee. As warm blood streamed down my shin I found a new feeling: sharp, physical pain. That night, I stood beneath a scorching stream of water in the shower, staring at my razor blade. I wondered if one of those thin metal blades was the solution I had spent the last few months looking for. An hour later I sat on the floor wrapped in a towel, holding an unused razor. I carefully popped the protective cover off, slid a singular blade out, and discovered a new way to feel.

My body became a collection of lines scattered across my skin. As I filled my canvas with color, the pain I felt reminded me that I was still there, still human.


Months later as I stood wrapped in a towel, my last remaining razor blade slipped out of my fingers and disappeared through a crack in the floor. That’s what it took for me to finally feel genuine emotion again. And I was angry. It was the same kind of anger that had hit me as I lay on that basement floor. I whirled around and slammed my clenched fists down into the wooden dresser as hard as I could. For a couple seconds I stood there shocked, frozen save for the blood that was still dripping down my knuckles.

Every emotion that had kept itself bottled up inside of me suddenly rushed out. I sobbed so hard that tears blurred my vision and shortness of breath forced me to the floor. For what felt like hours I laid there and drowned in it all. I cried, and I screamed, but eventually I smiled. It took almost four months for that to happen, but at that point I knew the slight discoloration that would appear on the knuckles of my right hand and the scars that cover my body will always remind me that I am still here. I am still human.



by Brooke Ripley

We are brutality. We are not vulnerable or weak creatures. Even after being traumatized and weakened by others, we will recover, angry and empowered. Our hearts and bodies may be raw, but it is that anger and fear that catalyzes us to make change.

night over the rhône

lit. art

by Francisco Silva & Ollie DeFazio

grimy hands and soft lights
apart from the PBR in your breaths
everything in his room is how its always been


his walls whisper nothings all around you
making out some of it
feels like razors raking the skin

"get get get OUT"

those damn walls.
they’re the reason this happened
how should you know

slut. she probably led him on

to be successful, yell loudest
but those walls held in my pleas
gorging on them
no’s hang in the air
a feeble, twisted chandelier
that held me when i cried
are now
hands that don’t let me
cry out
midnight evolves and stays
above the heavens are swollen with yellow
bruises are bluish-purple patches
that appear on the skin when tiny
blood vessels burst underneath

You Don’t Just Get Over It


My grandparents live full-time on an island off of Massachusetts. I’ve spent most of my summers there, and I know the place inside and out. This past summer, during my last week there, my friend Emma invited me to a house party. We went together, showing up around 11:00 p.m.

I have no idea how long I had been there—at least an hour. I had drunk way too much; I wasn’t blackout drunk yet, but wasted. I made my way upstairs to a bedroom where I was relieved to find it empty. I locked the door behind me and crawled onto the bed.

The next thing I can remember was a body standing at the foot of the bed. I was frozen and scared and trying to speak, trying to convince myself it was just a friend, but nothing came out. The feeling of him slowly climbing onto the bed is one I will never forget: the shuffling of sheets, the smile in his eyes, and his hand on my ankle as he crawled towards me. The first time he touched me, his fingers were so cold that they sent a shock through my body.

Words finally came out of my mouth as I trembled and asked, “What are you doing? Please leave.” The only response I received was him quieting me as he positioned himself on top of me. I didn’t hit him or push him off or try to run. I was so confused. Why was I just lying there? But there was nothing else I could’ve done. It felt like the room was spinning around me. I was still wasted, and I didn’t have the power to move my body. I just lay there and asked him to leave. I felt so fucking pathetic.

He began by putting his hand up my shirt, and then suddenly my shirt was off. I felt disgusting as he kissed my lips, my neck and my chest. He started pulling my shorts off, and I lost it. There was no more denying what this was; I completely shut down. I closed my eyes and allowed tears to slowly run down my face as it happened. It hurt a lot. There was no lube or condom, and I wasn’t wet in the slightest bit. He was literally tearing me apart. I lay there and managed to get the word “no” out a couple times, but it was quiet and powerless.

When he finally left, I couldn’t move for what felt like a lifetime. My shirt was off, my shorts were on my right ankle, and I couldn’t find the energy to even grab a blanket. I stayed the way he had left me: arms out and legs spread, pathetic and powerless.

When I got back downstairs, most of the people had left the party already. Emma saw me immediately and followed me out of the house. She was asking me all kinds of questions: What was wrong? Where had I gone? Why was my makeup all over my face? Why was I sobbing? I couldn’t respond, so instead of talking, we just walked toward my house. I never told her what actually happened, but somehow she knew.

When I got home, I threw up for hours. For the entire next week, I got sick whenever my thoughts got too vivid. It was all I could think about, and it killed me. I was, and still am, so sure I locked the door behind me. I remember feeling proud of how smart I was for thinking to lock it. But I couldn’t have. How could he have gotten into the room? Was he there before I walked in? I’ll never know.

A couple weeks later, when I returned to school for my junior year, I was a new person. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to control myself, or that I would start crying or throwing up in front of people. But I could have never predicted what actually happened. I completely blocked out the experience. I didn’t think about it or anything else really. I stopped talking to all of my friends because I was scared they would notice something was off one day and start asking me questions. I found comfort in bad influences—I became really close with two new friends, Kaitlyn and Chloe. They smoked and drank and constantly fucked up. I was only happy when I was under any kind of influence. I took a shot of rum almost every single morning for about two months at school. It didn’t matter to me that I would get caught.

One Tuesday at our school’s morning assembly, somebody announced that an entire day of classes would be dedicated to talking about sexual assault. I lost it and didn’t speak for the rest of the day. When I got back to my room after dinner, all of the emotion that I had been bottling up for the previous couple months came out. I didn’t sleep that night or many other nights that followed. On the rare occasion that I could fall asleep, I sometimes dreamt about my traumatizing experience and woke up sweating and crying, panicking and in real pain. Sleeping only a couple hours a night, or sometimes none, was better than that.

I told a senior guy named Jamie about what happened a couple nights after my initial breakdown. I have no idea why I chose him, but I needed to tell someone. It was really hard for me to get it out; I wrote the whole story out over Snapchat. I still didn’t know how to talk about it, so I typed it in really small bits. I didn’t use the word “rape,” because I had never said or associated that word with my experience.

For the next couple weeks, I texted Jamie whenever I had breakdowns. I just kept telling him how hopeless, pathetic and weak I felt. Soon feeling selfish for putting all my worries on Jamie, I told another guy named Matt who was a great friend of mine. Matt had always been really hard on me, so I was hoping this would be no different. Whenever I talked to Jamie about what happened, he assured me it wasn’t my fault and told me I was strong instead of pathetic. Matt was one of my best friends, don’t get me wrong, but he isn’t exactly a sensitive or empathetic guy. I wanted someone to agree with me, tell me how pathetic I was and how, honestly, it was my fault.

I regretted telling Matt immediately afterwards. I avoided him the next day and even skipped a class we have together. I couldn’t handle looking him in the eyes and knowing how pathetic and weak he thought I was. We never really talked about it again.

After a couple months of not sleeping and not going to meals and sitting in my dorm room crying and wanting everything to just end, I was ready to leave school. I was prepared to do anything necessary to escape. I was so close to just getting wasted and showing up to my advisor’s house in the hopes of getting kicked out. Finally, Thanksgiving break came and I packed up my entire room, fully prepared to never return. But my parents wouldn’t let me stay home unless I “opened up to them.” They knew something was wrong and that it had been for a while. For some reason, it had never occurred to me to tell them—it just wasn’t an option. I returned to school and life got better. I still cried and threw up randomly, but I didn’t dwell on it as much as I did before.

That’s the thing with my experience: I didn’t just heal when the bleeding healed. I think about it every day, somedays a lot more than others. There are still many nights when I don’t get much sleep, whether I’m constantly waking up from a bad dream or refraining from falling asleep because I’m afraid to close my eyes and relive the experience. When I think about it too much, I feel the same pain I felt that night.

It hasn’t even been a year since the party. I am now at the end of my winter term of junior year, and I am a completely different person. I haven’t been myself since. I pushed away my friends, in fear that they would ask me what was wrong. I still don’t sleep enough, and I drink way too much; it’s the only way that I can feel as happy as I did before everything happened.

I just want my life back.

Illustration by Pepper Pieroni

You Know You Want To

lit. art survivor

He and I
were neighbors
we were friends

We’ve known each other for years
before boys being boys was an excuse
before I was a prize instead of a person

But over time our conversations changed
he used to tell me about the new friends he’d met
now he tells me about girls he coaxed into his car

At 10:00pm
he was in my house
we sat next to each other
nothing between us

At 10:15pm
he was in my house
I was standing downstairs
a ceiling between us

At 10:20pm
he left my house
I sat next to myself
a violation between us

I asked my mom
would he snake his fingers around my wrist
would he push my hand into his pants
when I looked at him
he was smiling
pinning me in place

He said to me
“You know you want to.”
I didn’t.

He would tell his friends
“She was sending mixed signals.”
I wasn’t.

He would apologize to me
“You confused me.”
that wasn’t an apology
that was an excuse
it was blame

I can feel myself screaming still

At him
“Why didn’t you just ask me?”

At myself
“I need to get a glass of water.”
I had made excuses too.

When I could have told him
“No. This isn’t okay.”

Instead I fled into the kitchen
I filled my glass
with water
with anger
and I drank the whole thing
and said nothing



by Abigail Downard

It Wasn’t Nonconsensual


I asked him to hang out. I just wanted to kiss. I was on my period. I didn’t think we would go any farther.

So I went to his room. He turned on the TV, and we sat there watching half of a 42-minute episode. I knew something would happen. We both planned on it. He paused the show and said “Alright” before leaning towards me. He kissed me, gently at first. It felt nice to know I was wanted. Then he took his shirt off and tried to take off mine. I was nervous; people knew I was in his room and I didn’t want to get in trouble. But I let him take it off. I felt his rough hands tugging at the waistband of my leggings. Before I could stop it, he placed his hands in my pants. I moved away, but soon his hands were unzipping his pants. I could hear the zipper come undone and the rustling of his cargo pants, and then he moved his hands up my back and onto my shoulders.

He pushed. I resisted.

He pushed again. I resisted again.

He kept pushing. I gave in. I didn’t really want to; I had no intentions of doing anything beyond kissing in the first place. So I stopped after a few seconds and went back up to kiss him. But he kept pushing and pushing, and I gave in again. I could’ve stopped. I didn’t have to go any further than I had originally planned. No one forced me to do anything.

Yet here I am, over a year later, still thinking about how that night I went against every grain in my body. I can still feel the marks on my lips left from going down on him. It was only forty minutes but it felt like an eternity. I checked the clock before and after. I felt his hands on the back of my head, pushing and pushing.

“If you want me to cum, you’re gonna have to go faster.” Tears were welling in my eyes, but of course I complied. I still don’t know why. I started to zone out a bit, thankfully. But I looked up at him, and he was staring at the ceiling blankly. He laughed a little and said, “No, I meant with your hand.”

Eventually, it was over.

At first, I had some odd sense of pride to tell my friends that not only had I been a conquest of his, but he had been a conquest of mine. But when the realization hit me that I had given this misogynistic guy a little piece of my freedom, I broke down. I cried in my friend’s room for hours while she scolded me for going against all my values.

He was in my math class. I had to see him every day for the rest of the term. Every time I stood up to present a problem, the boys in my class would blurt out his name and snort at me until I sat down, embarrassed. The teacher knew. He didn’t care. How could I care, when everyone around me told me not to?

I know it wasn’t rape. I know it wasn’t sexual assault. But he never asked for my consent either. I never said no, so technically it wasn’t nonconsensual. I didn’t have it that bad. I know that.

I’m a lucky one, I guess—if that’s what luck is nowadays.



by Brooke Ripley

Femininity does not define us; it describes us. Seemingly small assertions often paint femininity as ineptitude, but there are those who will support that until people begin to believe that women are less capable. Our society discriminates against women because minor assertions become beliefs. Do not let them silence you. Regardless of how “unladylike” it is to argue, persist. Argue until they listen. You should not be treated any differently. Do not let them silence you. Our femininity does not silence us.


lit. art

by Rajrishi Das

when we look into a Woman’s eyes
why do we project our weakness?

we avert our gaze and search Her body
for the pleasure that we're seeking.

but as much as we conceal our demons
Her eyes reflect our soul's true meaning

and in the night Her pain is ceaseless
but we close our eyes and

drown Her weeping

we say She lied
about last weekend

and we pray that
we're just dreaming.