Fight back against ignorance: Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak equated with porn

It shocks me to the core when anyone equates rape with pornography. But that’s exactly what associate professor Wesley Scroggins (who is also affiliated with Reclaiming Missouri for Christ) has done, comparing Laurie Halse Anderson’s beautifully and sensitively written YA novel Speak, and the rape scenes in it, with soft pornography and filth.

My parents, who sexually and ritually abused me, DID actually make rape into porn. They filmed me being raped, and they sold and traded the film with other child pornorgraphers. So to hear that someone equates sensitive, healing writing about rape as porn makes me wonder where they’re coming from. How can anyone equate rape with porn…unless they’re as messed up as my parents? Unless, perhaps, they enjoy it, the way my parents did? Or, like hugely homophobic people who are secretly gay but can’t bear to admit it to themselves, perhaps he protests too much? I don’t understand how anyone can equate rape, and the speaking out about it, with porn–not ever.

Speaking out against rape, sexual abuse, any form of abuse, is SO important. And allowing children and teens to find reflections for their own experiences; being able to read about those experiences in safety while gaining knowledge to arm themselves; or encouraging readers to speak out and find healing themselves because of what they’ve read is SO important. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak is an important, healing, necessary YA novel. I think it should be in every school, every library, and many, many homes. If you haven’t read Speak yet, I hope you’ll buy or get yourself a copy. I wish I’d had a copy of Speak when I was a teen being abused!

I hope, too, that you’ll help speak out against this crazy silencing, this injustice. It is book banning and silencing like this that actually encourages rape and sexual abuse through the silencing of truth, and the keeping survivors from validation and support.

An easy way to speak out against this is to voice your opinion on Twitter, with the hashtag #SpeakLoudly, started by the wonderful Paul W Hankins. And you can easily put a “Speak Loudly” Twibbon on your Twitter image. You can also blog about it, write to the editor of News-Letter about it, and let ignorant people know that we won’t allow the silencing of such important books! Please add your voice to this! And read Laurie Halse Anderson’s wonderful post on this!

Update: There have been many more wonderful, moving posts on this, and such wonderful support in the writing and reading community. Check out:
Speak Loudly by Kari at A Good Addiction.

I Believe This With All My Heart by Janet Reid, Literary Agent.

SPEAKing Out by CJ Redwine

The thoughtful, powerful op-ed Web Community Fights Ban of Book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson by Catherine Ryan Hyde

And if you’d like a laugh, check out You Fuck With Laurie Halse Anderson, You Fuck With the Rejectionist where the Rejectionist takes apart some of Scroggins’ article for grammar.

and the wonderful posts that readers here have written:
Speak Shouldn’t Be Silenced By Censorsby Sheryl McFarlane

Speaking Up For Speak by Amber of Just Your Typical Book Blog.

Can You Hear me? Then I’ll Speak Louder by Lucy Coats

and SO many more!!

Check out Reclusive Bibliophile’s list of posts on this subject, as well as her own fantastic post Hell Hath No Fury Like the Book Community Scorned!

About Cheryl Rainfield

I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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41 Responses to Fight back against ignorance: Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak equated with porn

  1. Cheryl, your post made me tear up a bit. It’s so terrible how anyone can think rape is enjoyable or pornographic. To me, banning this book makes someone complicit in rape culture, and like you said, invalidates the experience of the survivors.

    I think you are amazing because you are a survivor.

  2. Thank you, April (hugging you). I’m glad my post moved you. (I did get worried about, er, saying too much. 🙂 ) I don’t understand anyone thinking rape is enjoyable; it goes against everything good and right. I’m so glad you agree about the craziness of banning this book!

  3. I have seen this novel “rescue” a student from this abuse. If she hadn’t had the chance to read it in my classroom, I don’t know if she would have found the power to heal. I agree with you–the attitude by Wesley Scroggins is the same attitude that tells someone they did something “wrong” when they are victimized. Thank you for the beautiful post.

    • Aimee–I am SO glad to hear you say that–that this novel helped rescue a student. I believe in that so much. I know books helped me survive my childhood and teenhood, and I was *always* looking for books like Speak. I needed them. And…thank you very much for the lovely words about my post. (hugging you)

  4. Liz Czukas says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Very brave of you. I wish Scoggins had to face people like you before making such accusations. What an uneducated, hate-filled idiot he is!

    I’m amazed by how plainly you speak about your experiences. It speaks to not only your strength of character, but also to the strong path of healing you’ve walked. If SPEAK is the first step in that journey for anyone, banning it is a crime.

    Thanks.

    – Liz

    • Aw, Liz, *thank you*. I was so nervous, sharing what I did, afraid it would turn people away. But people doing and saying things like Scoggins did makes me so angry! Any way–thank you so very much for the reassurances and lovely things you said. I appreciate it so much!

      And I agree–I think banning any book is a crime–and especially books like Speak that help people. That help break silence, bring healing, let people know they’re not alone….

  5. Wow. Thanks for sharing a painful experience. I know personally how hard it is to do that with naysayers saying it’s better to just let it go and not dwell on something as horrific as what you went through.

    I totally agree with your post.

    • Kim–thank you! (smiling at you–and giving you a hug if you’d like one.) It is hard to speak up when people try to oppress, especially if you’ve been oppressed. But I think it’s so important to do so when we can. I think it can even be a part of our own healing, and help others at the same time.

  6. Rochelle says:

    Wow, you make a very good point…I saw these words on twitter, “rape is not porn”, and I was so very confused, because how are these two words even in the same sentence?

    I think you’re bang on: this guy, he read about it, or heard about it, or read the book (did he?) and thought it was…arousing? He certainly points more fingers at himself than at Speak.

    So: both your books and Speak are on my reading list now. Thanks for speaking up. I’m looking forward to diving into your books!

    • Rochelle–thank you! It really confuses me, too–rape ever being equated with porn. It is just…boggling. And yet, I know it turned on my abusers, and people they dealt with.

      I’m so very glad you’re going to pick up Laurie’s beautiful book–and mine, too! (beaming) Thank you! (hugging you) And thank you so much, too, for saying I didn’t say too much. I so very much appreciate that.

  7. Rochelle says:

    Oh also: you didn’t say too much. I hope no one ever makes you feel like you did. Your voice is needed in the world.

  8. Lynne says:

    Oh my God, Cheryl, I remember you writing about your abuse before, but I had no idea how horrific your experience was. How awful that any kid should have to go through something like that. I can’t imagine how you made it through but I’m so glad you did, and that you’re strong enough to write about it.
    I don’t remember if you’ve said what happened to your parents and others who participated in your abuse, but I hope they were prosecuted for what they did.

  9. Pingback: Tweets that mention Cheryl Rainfield: » Fight back against ignorance: Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak equated with porn -- Topsy.com

  10. Tess Sharpe says:

    What a brave, honest and inspiring post!

    My Sis who runs a Feminist Women’s Health Clinic often gives SPEAK to some of the survivors she counsels, as well as the teens who belong to the outreach program. It’s such an important book, for so many reasons. I think every teenager should read it–boys as well, to give them a look into what it is like to be a young woman in this world.

  11. Amber says:

    Cheryl, after interviewing you and reading this, it still brings me to tears that something so horrific has happened to you. But I admire you so much for your strength to write a book and make posts like these that I know will reach out to those that have been through it too.

    To help with Speak, this is my speak out:

    http://justyourtypicalbookblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/speaking-up-for-speak.html

  12. Meadow says:

    This was a very touching post and really describes exactly what SPEAK is about. Thank you for this.

  13. Pingback: I’m sorry, what? « Bibliophibia

  14. Cheryl, your post has moved me to tears! What an amazing strength you are! Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  15. Kelly says:

    I so agree with you. It is horrible what they are doing, equating Rape with porn.
    It simply cannot and SHOULD not be done.

    It is important for victims of such terrible, appalling abusive acts to not feel ashamed and receive encouragement to come forward and say what is happening,so that animals and monsters like the ones doing these things can get punished like they deserve!!!

    Thanks so much for this post. I have recently found out about your books -I’m ashamed to say- but your message is so clear and important and strong that everyone should hear and we should stop ABUSE now!

  16. Callie Feyen says:

    I think you hit it on the head when you wrote that Speak is “sensitive, healing writing.” It is a wonderful book which happens to be about rape, but there is so much more to it as well. What a shame it would be if this book weren’t allowed in schools and libraries. It offers so much for all high school girls whether they’ve been sexually abused or not. When I read Speak (over and over again) I thought Halse wrote with such insight into the minds of high schoolers. It will always be a favorite book of mine.

  17. Thank you, Cheryl, for your bravery and willingness to share your personal “stuff” to make the point that writing about rape is NOT equated with porn. This professor is a bonehead and I’m glad the response to his ignorance has been so strong!

  18. Pingback: Speak Loudly | Escape Through the Pages

  19. Natalie says:

    Cheryl,

    Words cannot express how touched I was by your post. This professor was from my own university, and I was COMPLETELY and UTTERLY appalled when I found this article. I had to post about my reactions, and I’m planning on talking to students and professors about it at my school tomorrow. Thank you for having the courage to speak out. I respect you so much for it!

  20. Sheryl–that’s fantastic that you blogged about this; thank you! I’m so glad when we all stand up against something like this.

    Lynne, thank you for your caring words. (hugging you) My parents and other abusers were never prosecuted. I ran away from home after I’d started proceedings, and got myself safe–or tried to. (I am safe now.)

    Tess, oh, I love hearing what your Sis does! How wonderful that she gives out Speak to some of the survivors and teens she counsels! That is such a healing thing to do. Bibliotherapy! (Maybe you’d want to leave a post on Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog, telling her? I bet she’d be touched to know it.)

    Amber, thank you. I really appreciate your kind, caring words. (hugging you) And hurray that you wrote a blog post to help fight back! That’s wonderful.

    And everyone–thank you so much for your outpouring of support and kindness for me–it helped so much to read–and for fighting back against ignorance and silencing and book banning, and fighting for books like Speak. It means so much!!

  21. Meadow, thank you. I really appreciate hearing that.

    Ah, Katieb-MundieMoms, thank you. You are lovely!

    Truly, this outpouring of support–it is so lovely, like a balm for the soul.

    Kelly, thank you. So glad to hear that you agree. And yes, oh yes, it’s so important that survivors don’t feel ashamed and are encouraged to speak out. I’m so glad, too, that you’ve discovered my books! No shame in when you discovered them, truly! It’s always a delight to hear that someone else wants to pick up Scars. …I wish we could stop all abuse now, and save every victim, every survivor. And…I think abusers fit “monster” better than animal. (I happen to have a lot of animals I love, my little dog and cat included. 🙂 It’s sometimes seemed to me that animals can be kinder, or less cruel, than some humans. Though there is also great compassion and love in many people.)

    Yes, Callie, I so very much agree with you! Speak, and books like it, need to be in schools, and easily accessed by teens, by everyone who needs them.

    Thank you, Beth. You also have such courage and bravery! I am so glad for our strength.

    Natalie, thank you for your kind and strong words! (hugging you) What a relief to hear that someone in the same university has sanity and courage and strength, and is going to speak out about this. I admire you for that. Thank you!

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  23. Dee Neal says:

    As a survivor of rape, I was very moved by your perspective. To equate rape to porn is pure ignorance, and to do it in the name of faith is absurd. I am a strong person of faith and through my faith I was able to seek help to heal, and share my story. I was able to heal and help others. I love that you are speaking out for it and hope others will understand it’s potential healing power.

  24. Pingback: Bloggers Speak Out (Giveaway of Speak) | Reading Through Life

  25. Holy shit. That was my first reaction. Well, my first reaction was to cover my mouth and make sure I’d read that right. I did. Oh my God. Oh my goodness. That’s…horrifying. Oh my God. I can’t say I’ve had the most innocent and conventional childhood ever, but even that takes me aback. Wow. I’m amazed that you’re able to speak of it so plainly. I cannot–can not–imagine ever doing that. I can’t imagine I’d have that much courage. Ever. You’re so brave, and the entire situation is just wow.

    Kudos to you for speaking up.

  26. Pingback: Bloggers Speak Out – link collection | Escape Through the Pages

  27. TW says:

    That was my first thought too, that Mr. Scroggin’s statement said more about what he prefers to download off the internet or mailorder than about the book itself.

    It is a sad world we live in, where things like this happen. I wish they didn’t. But the answer to an imperfect world is not to cover up the imperfection and pretend it doesn’t exist. The most compassionate action (which religions, with their absolute morality, often fail at) is to make our kids aware that it does happen and help them help themselves and one another by giving them knowledge and permission to speak.

  28. Dee, I’m sorry you’ve also been through rape (hugging you)–but very glad you’ve been able to speak out and heal–that takes so much strength. And thank you for thanking me (smiling) for speaking out! That was lovely to read.

    Remilda, thank you (hugging you); I appreciate your kind and honest response. And thank you for saying I was brave to write what I did. Responses like yours help me feel okay again about sharing what I did! Sometimes I worry about, well, people having a hard time hearing stuff. I don’t want to turn anyone away. So–thank you. I really appreciate it.

    TW–I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone in my thoughts about Mr Scroggin. 🙂 And yes, oh yes, I strongly agree with you–we need to help kids be aware (and everyone else) and help them, give them resources, encourage them and allow them to speak out–and learn from others. It helps so much to do so! Feeling alone is so painful.

  29. Lucy Coats says:

    Cheryl–this is a marvellous and brave post (which somehow I missed on Twitter). I finished SPEAK last week, and went on to write a blogpost about it–and to speak about my own childhood abuse for the first time. What you suffered was far far worse–and I salute you for Speaking Loudly. I will also continue to do so. If you’d like to read my post, it’s here. http://scribblecitycentral.blogspot.com/2010/09/cant-you-hear-me-then-ill-speak-louder.html

    Lucy Coats

  30. Lucy, how very brave of you to speak out about your own sexual abuse! Especially when you haven’t been able to speak about it before. (hugging and hugging you) I hope it was a good experience, hope you know that you’re brave to do so–and I hope it helps, some, in your healing.

    And thank you so very much for your kind, encouraging words about my post. I really appreciate that; it meant a lot to read.

    take good care of you,
    Cheryl

  31. Schuyler Esperanza says:

    I’ve got tears in my eyes from reading this. Books saved my life. I faced some terrible things in childhood and beyond, and don’t know what I would have done–and would do now–without reading. When people threaten our freedom to read, I believe not only do they deprive kids, they kill them. This may sound extremist. It may be. Yet my experience as an abuse survivor says otherwise. I’d be dead without books. And instead of not surviving, I’m 40 years old. I’m alive, and I read.

  32. Pingback: Everyone needs stories « Law and Conversation

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