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In which I SPEAK

So, I just found out that some guy named Wesley Scroggins has labeled Laurie Halse Anderson's book SPEAK as pornographic.

What's absolutely sickening and terrifying about finding SPEAK pornographic is because of the rape scenes. Um, what?!

I'll admit, I haven't read SPEAK in ages but I do think I recall the rape scene at the party being worded as "he hurts me hurts me hurts me, then stands up, etc." Nowhere in that statement does it graphically describe in detail anything about anatomy, the exact sensations, titillating dialogue, and anything else that makes up pornographic literature.

And if you think that a 14 year old being raped is titillating, then the problem is NOT the content of the book.

Scroggins says "As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes."

Again, she was 14 years old in this scene and this was the first time she thought she'd have a boyfriend. When you're that age and inexperienced, it is really hard to know when a guy is grooming you (testing your boundaries sexually), or when he isn't interested in being your boyfriend. Andy (the rapist) did not rape Melinda because he liked her or because he wanted to have sex with her. Sexual violence needs to be covered in high school somehow so the kids actually know what it is if it happens to them.

When I was 14 and just starting high school, I didn't know what to expect at all. I had no experience with dating and I thought that rape was a sexually charged crime. It took me getting sexually harassed at the end of freshman year to start a learning journey where I learned about sexual violence. Verbal harassment happened months later, and again I didn't know what to call it until I told a friend. She told me it was sexual harassment, and after that everything I learned was all from the internet and from talking to others. Teachers didn't talk about it, and most of the time when other students talked about it, they acted like it wasn't a big deal or (worse), they joked about it. Joking about it could come from not knowing exactly how terrible it is to go through sexual violence, no matter how subtle it is. Not having that knowledge causes harm.

I learned that rape is NOT about sex, but about power. This puts the 2nd rape scene into an entirely different context than "porn" because at that point in the story, Melinda disclosed her rape to her friend in an attempt to protect her. Her friend freaks out on her, but ends up dumping the rapist.

That sort of thing is a "threat" to the rapist's control, and in fury he tries to rape Melinda again.

It is NOT about getting laid. It is NOT a sex scene between two consenting partners. Andy is violent and attacks her in a secluded area and (thank God) his attempt is stopped/interrupted.

...Again, what part of that is sexy? What part of that is pornographic?

While I'm at it, I also have an issue with what Scroggins says here: "One such book is called "Speak." They also watch the movie. This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team."

One of the many unfortunate realities about sexual violence is that adults are not always supportive. Hell, it doesn't even have to be about rape or assault. I know from experience just how much of a loser and a bully that adults are in regards to children. If Scroggins has an issue about how the teachers and adults are portrayed in SPEAK, then would that mean he is in heavy denial about how unbelievably fucking mean that adults can be? Has he never had an experience where parents just did not have the energy to deal with something serious because there is already too much dysfunction in their lives? It happens EVERY DAY and it happens in the lives of today's youth. Rape happens in the lives of today's youth.

The fact he wants to ban this book scares the hell out of me. This book taught me about rape, and it also gave me hope that it really is possible to take small steps to heal from traumatic experiences. This is EXACTLY what today's youth needs to read, and banning SPEAK is going to create an even bigger problem. What happened to Melinda in SPEAK was not written to be pornography.

What happened to Melinda paints an honest portrait of rape, and many different coping mechanisms (some more unhealthy than others) in dealing with it. It is REALITY. It's happening RIGHT NOW. 

Banning SPEAK is going to rob students of important information about their own lives. That is going to cause more trouble than it's worth.

Resources for all survivors for every kind of sexual assault:
http://rainn.org - The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (24/7/365 free, anonymous phone and online hotline plus informative articles)
http://pandys.org/ - Pandora's Aquarium (Includes many articles and a very active survivor support forum)
http://sexualharassmentsupport.org/ - Sexual Harassment Support (Exploring myths about SH, articles, survivor stories, and a blog)

Scroggin's opinions on "filthy books":

Laurie's original blog post on the issue: