Her Breasts Are a Shield

Her breasts are a shield.

Her hips, a fortress.
Her mind, a grenade waiting to explode.
But these strengths grow weaker the further she flies from home.
The closer she gets to a mine field,
The closer she gets to her barracks,
The closer she gets to her own downfall,
Not at the hands of her enemies,
But by the calloused fingers of her fellow soldier.


Her foot never touches a tank.
Her hands never grip an explosive,
The most exercised muscle is her vocal cords
When she is screaming for help
In the supposed safety of her own bed
That the man above her that night gave.
The man she followed to a tee,
The man that commanded her squad,
Now was taking “his fair share.”
“Initiation,” he calls it.
She was sworn in like everyone else.
“Every girl here wants it.”
She doesn’t.
“You’re gone so long from home, your boyfriend will never know.”


“If you tell I can have you sent home.”


She doesn’t know what to do, but somehow her body does.
The screaming stops.
Her body goes limp
Along with the twenty-six thousand other bodies
Violated as hers is,


“Rape” is not in the dictionary of the U.S. Military.
She finds her higher-ups only know “seduction,” “miscommunication,”
They know that “he’s such a kind man, he could never do such a thing,”
or “he has a wife at home.”
“The army is a man’s world,” they cry.
Then why did she endure boot camp,
Why did she listen to every command,
Every call
Directing her as a proud member of the United States Army?
Why was she brought here in the first place?
Why is she a soldier at daytime,
And a victim at night?
“This was an occupational hazard,” they tell her.
“It comes with the uniform.”
Then what about Tailhook, she wonders,
What about nineteen ninety-one, when officers raped ninety women over the course of a single weekend?
Why is it that more women here suffer from PTSD because of sexual assault than warfare?
Why is it that when a woman is raped, she is sent home for a “personality disorder,” rather than her aggressor sent home for assault?
Why are only five percent of military rapists serving jail time?


Her breasts are a shield
That has been burned and bent
To resemble the gun
They don’t let her shoot,
For fear her womanly hands will mar the manly intimidation of the front lines.


Her breasts are a shield
But stand no chance against the stares, the grins, and the catcalls of her supposed
“brothers in arms,” the men who shouted the same vow,
Bled the same blood,
Cried the same tears
As they fought to stand for their homeland,


Her breasts are a shield
Adorned with once shiny gold badges
She held proud,
But now dim,
As her eyes did
When he raped her.

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