Still pregnant! Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I guess I was taking a day of rest.
I am in no uncertain terms shocked and disgusted by a recent challenge to a young adult book. Sometimes with challenged books I can sort of see their point, even if I don't agree. This instance is just so wrong, I want to SPEAK up about it.
In an opinion piece in a Missouri newspaper, a university associate professor challenges three books read in local high school English classes. I haven't read the other two so won't chime in on those ones, but one of them is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a book I admire tremendously. It is gorgeously crafted, smart, and powerful. The most shocking part is he says it should "be classified as soft core pornography."
Oh my. Have we come to this? Will people really listen to this guy? An editor's note at the end of the article says that the other two books he mentioned have already been pulled or are under review. Let me clarify for those of you who haven't read Speak: it's about rape. A high school girl is raped. Rape, people. Pornography is "designed to stimulate sexual excitement." I am extremely sensitive to depictions of rape. I have turned off movies and put down books that even remotely crossed the line for me. Speak was not one of those. It's not graphic, it is definitely not designed to titillate. It is honest while being respectful. If someone reads that book and is stimulated by it, then they should SEE A THERAPIST.
This might be funny if it weren't so tragic and dangerous. This attitude is precisely what keeps girls silent when they should be speaking up, what makes them afraid of reporting rape, what lets perpetrators get away. Please, please don't confuse the issue. Rape is rape is rape. It is not sex. It is not sexy. It is violence. It is always wrong. Classifying this book as a kind of pornography is so insulting and damaging to survivors of rape. Ee gads. I'm so upset I'm contracting just thinking about it. Deep breaths, Mama.
As is so often the case, protests against books say more about the protester than the book. I'm keenly aware of this whenever I can't stand a book that others adore. What does that say about me? What am I expecting, hoping for? Reading is such great self-examination. I wonder if this professor will be conducting any self-examination. I wonder what he'll discover about himself. I wonder if he'll get help.
Veronica Roth had an interesting Christian response to this, as the book banner is a Christian, and also links to other blog posts if you're interested.