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.