Home 9 Issue 9 Innocence Lost by Ilana Drake

Ilana Drake, age 18 (alum)

I wrote this piece after hearing about sexual assault on Brown University’s campus. This piece details my experience growing up as a teenage girl as well as the culture I experienced in middle school, high school and the present.

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Innocence Lost

I’m twelve and the world focuses
on a Stanford swimmer
who sexually assaulted
a twenty-two-year-old woman

I’m thirteen and I hear the guys in my grade call other girls “slut”
and that’s the same year I learn that
I need to grow up quickly
because of the newly elected President

I’m fourteen and #MeToo comes alive
and “feminist” is used as an insult
and the word becomes a joke
among the eighth-grade class

I’m fifteen and I understand the meaning of
“toxic masculinity”
when girls get rated out of 10
by guys at summer camp
and the numbers seem to matter
more than who we are inside

I’m sixteen and I realize the culture
in my math class is reflected in the world
when I hear an eighteen-year-old guy joke
about how a girl has “been around”

I’m seventeen and my heart aches
as I grasp a scene
from a movie I saw years ago
because the young girl
was manipulated in truth or dare
by an older guy driving her home
who made her afraid
because she said “no”

and I’m eighteen when I recognize that my mom
was right about the culture
that still exists beyond these plastered walls,
a culture where we try to
“forget” the college scandals,
sexual assault and harassment
behind sports and wealth,
and tears start to form in my eyes
when I hear about Brown
and the statistics
behind the culture
and then I think
about the others
that start to fade
because we let them.