Monday, September 20, 2010

Finding My Courage to #SPEAKLoudly

If you haven't seen it around this weekend, there are a lot of great posts (as well as the twitter hashtag #SPEAKloudly started by Paul Hankins) going around about this article where a man is claiming that the book SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, a book about a girl coming to terms with rape, is akin to soft-core porn. He is making similar statements about TWENTY BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler, a book about grief and growing up, (and one of my favorites of last year.)

There have been some great posts on this by Laurie and Sarah, as well as Myra McEntire, CJ Redwine, and Veronica Roth. People are finding the courage to speak loudly and openly about why SPEAK is important and I realize now that by not doing the same, I'm taking away the chance to help someone else feel, at the very least, less alone.

So, here goes. I want to say first off that many people take issue with the fact that Mr. Scroggins considers himself a good Christian, and feels that those who allow these books in schools are not. And there have been some very eloquent posts on that topic. This is not the issue I have with Mr. Scroggins. I consider myself a spiritual person. I don't attend church regularly, and I'm more interested in Buddhism than I am in western religions. I don't feel I can judge. Only God knows Mr. Scroggins' heart.

What's important to me is that no girl ever feels that society thinks her rape was okay because it's just sex. And that the sin in it was her "allowing" it to happen. What's important to me is that girls who have been raped have access to stories that mirror their own, proof that they're not alone, and examples of how to keep going when it feels like she'll never get out of the hole her rapist dug for her.

I am a rape survivor. I was seventeen. While the details are mine to keep, I can tell you that there was nothing soft-core porn about my experience. And to anyone who can read about a brutal attack on a young girl and claim it's sexual, all I can say is shame on you. Shame. On. You.

There is more at stake here than sex education. Books like SPEAK and the upcoming THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney, save lives. It's that simple.

I wish these books had been out when I was in high school. I wish someone had explained to me that I didn't deserve what happened. That it was wrong, and it wasn't my fault. And that I wasn't the only one it had ever happened to. I wish they'd told me not to believe the people who claimed that I was a slut and somehow worth less than other people. I wish someone had told me that I had the right to stand up and tell what happened to me. And that the perpetrators should and could be punished. I wish someone had told me that I would eventually come out on the other side of the long dark tunnel of my rape and survive. That's what these books, and so many books like them do.

I wish these books were required reading for every teen, so that boys might better understand the aftermath of their actions and choose differently.

I find it hard to understand anyone who feels these stories should be kept away from the people directly involved. Rape is awful. Of course we don't want it happening in our society, but it DOES happen. Ignoring it, or refusing to address it won't make it go away.

I bought my copy of Speak today to show support. If you agree with what I've had to say, do something to show your support today too.

18 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I was appalled when I read what he said about SPEAK and TWENTY BOY SUMMER (I loved both books, too). They're books about healing and moving on, and no one should be denied that.

I was sexually assaulted as a teen, and I know girls who were raped as teens. Like you said, there was nothing porno or entertaining about our situations. I wish SPEAK had been out then.

Myra McEntire said...

Much love to you, and I so admire your courage in speaking out.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

You're amazing! So many hugs for this post. Thank you for SPEAKING Loudly!!!!

Natalie C Parker said...

This takes the big kind of courage. *applauds*

Alison's Book Marks said...

Thank you for speaking loudly, and having the bravery to talk about your own experience.

I am heading out to the book shop myself in a few minutes to get my own copy of Speak...and I am going to make sure that I pass it on to a teen to read.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

This takes guts and heart. I'm in awe of your strength (it happened to me, too, but I've never written about it, well until this small comment). I hope this book gets in many girls' hands. *hugs*

Laura Pauling said...

It never happened to me, but to friends of mine. Date rape happens and that can be very confusing for a teen girl. To any female.
Books like this are needed!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I can't tell you how many high school girls I've taught who have clung to this book like a lifeline. It's powerful, it's valuable, it's there for girls who don't feel like they have anything else.

You are strong and incredible, Valerie. Thank you for speaking out. :-)

Kristi Helvig said...

It's very brave of you to share that with with us. I've worked with many rape survivors--as well as rapists--in my line of work as a psychologist. This man's comments display great ignorance, and in my professional opinion, show he should be exploring his own issues if he found those scenes sexually stimulating. I certainly wouldn't want my child around him.

Katie Edwards said...

I'm so sorry to hear about what happened to you. Thank you for having the courage to defy this Scroggins idiot and speak up, helping to raise awareness for a subject that is still rather a taboo. Scroggins would be better to promote awareness than ignorance if he wants to protect young people. Thank you again. Katie x

pinkflipflops said...

I would like to know how a middle aged man knows what it is better for young adults than they and their own parents. Bravo to you.

Meredith said...

Thank you for speaking. This is such an important book and important fight. I can't believe that guy.

Lisa Gail Green said...

I've read so many wonderful posts on this, but I think yours speaks loudest because you have true perspective on the subject. I can't stand that some people tout ignorance in the guise of religion. It disgusts me. I'm so glad that so many writers out there are willing to shout from the rooftops to be heard over voices like this man's.

Valerie Kemp said...

Thank you to everyone for the kind words and support for this post! It means more than I can say! Truly.

L.J. Boldyrev said...

I applaud you, my dear. *hugs*

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

I admire your courage. Easy to love, a role model to emulate. Love and healing.

Anne Marie said...

(I hope I did this right. If I didn't, it's Anne!)

Brava for Speaking Loudly. It's very sad that it takes so many hurtful memories to be brought up for people to take action. I hope that this campaign makes it easier for people to Speak Loudly about all kinds of "taboo" topics. Boys need to hear this. Girls need to hear this. Adults and teens need to hear this. Thanks for helping make that possible.

Daisy Whitney said...

You are brave and courageous.

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