Dear Dispatches –

Thanks to Vanessa Vargas Rojas and Dispatches for calling attention to this deeply disturbing passage in Neruda’s memoir.  As Rojas points out, this is just the kind of everyday sexism that our culture is so inured to that we don’t call it what it is. The fact that the woman seems to have been raised to think of herself as having no sexual choice or agency does not mean it isn’t rape. And the fact that Neruda has the self-awareness to feel bad afterwards doesn’t mean that he didn’t exploit the sexism of this time to his own advantage. What is described is rape in a climate of unadulterated patriarchy.  The passage, not to mention the fact that no-one has called attention to it before, is chilling. Thank you, Dispatches, for speaking out to raise awareness of how rape culture is tolerated in literature.  Please keep it up.

– Annie Finch