I love a good suspense book. Maybe because most of my life was so full of terror and pain; I can relate to the threats, and I love it when a good person wins out, and people who hurt others get justice. But I won’t ever buy a John Grisham book.
Why? Because John Grisham said that people who watch and download child porn should not be jailed and that “current sentencing policies failed to draw a distinction between real-world abusers and those who downloaded content, accidentally or otherwise.”
Wow. Excuse me while I take some deep breaths.
People who watch and download child porn are what drive the child-porn industry. Watching child porn is still exploitation. A child was abused and dehumanized to make that child porn that someone is sitting in their cozy house watching, getting off on. And suggesting that some men might download child porn by “mistake” or while drunk is excusing the behavior. It doesn’t recognize the culture we live in that encourages rape and child exploitation. It’s not thinking about the children that were used to create the child porn, the pain and trauma they endured. It’s severely lacking in compassion for victims, for anyone who isn’t an adult white male (John’s friend who he was identifying with) and that worries me.
Have I mentioned that my parents made child porn using me and other children, to make money to help fund the cult they belong to? I was regularly raped, forced to engage in sexual acts, and dehumanized in some very humiliating, degrading, sickening scenarios, all while being filmed, for men (and women) who would pay for the videos or photos.
It left emotional scars, along with the other abuse and torture I endured, that stay with me today. While I have finally learned to be pretty okay with a camera (especially cell phone cameras that don’t look like traditional cameras), for years I couldn’t bear being photographed or filmed. I still get triggered into traumatic memories every time I have to do a TV interview or too many people ask to take my photo in a short period of time. And the child porn messed up my body image, my comfort with my own sexuality, and left me fearful, mistrusting, and hating my own body and sexuality. It also, along with all the other abuse, left me with many psychological effects, including severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, dissociation, self-harm, wanting to die, and other effects.
The effects of child porn, abuse, rape, trauma, and exploitation is what I try to help others understand, on a gut and emotional level, through my books. I try to help people understand the severity of the effects, and also that healing is possible. I wish everyone who thought that child abuse or child porn was okay had to experience, just briefly through a good book, what it’s actually like. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so quick to encourage it to happen.
Child porn isn’t okay. Watching it isn’t okay. Making it isn’t okay. And while I don’t think people who watch, download, and/or buy child porn should get a higher sentence than people who create it, I do think there should be consequences. It’s never okay to exploit children (or anyone else). It’s never okay to use and harm others for your own pleasure.
So I will never buy a John Grisham book. I will never recommend his books to any of my friends. And I hope you will think twice about buying his books, or that you will consider donating to an organization that supports survivors, such as RAINN or your local rape crisis center, or an organization that fights child porn and child exploitation. We can make a healing, positive difference in this world. And it starts with compassion.