Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Last week, in honor of Banned Books Week, I ordered SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson because of the ruckus I'd been reading about this one man's attempt to get it banned from his local school system, (albeit a school system his children do not attend and that he is not affiliated with) for being "soft pornography"—no less because of rape scenes in the story.

This infuriated me for so many reasons, as I mentioned in my previous blog post.

I got the book last Friday and started reading it then, but as goes most of my weekends, I had things to do that kept me from what I most wanted to do.

Monday I got wrapped up in some revisions of one of my own manuscripts, but yesterday I got back to reading SPEAK. So deep in the story, I read through it in just a couple of hours, through laughter and tears. I had to step away from the computer yesterday and try to compose myself and my thoughts. I'm still having a hard time really putting into words what I'm feeling. I honestly wish I had known of this book's existence before now.

It is apparent that Mr. Scroggins did not read the book he's so adamant to get rid of—or if he did, he failed miserably to understand and recognize irony in the sarcastic "thoughts" of Melinda, the 13-year-old heroine of the story.

The greatest injustice here is a massive lack of objectivity-

You have to read a story and get to know the character and his/her situation. You can't do that by going into it emotionally blocked and with the only intention of finding EVERYTHING you think is wrong, immoral and filthy.

He basically judged a book by it's cover and the few lines that "jumped out" at him. His inadequate knowledge and single minded determination to rid his "world" of all things he deems sinful, wrong and immoral for children to be "subjected" to only further bolsters his self-righteous indignation.

For a man who so strongly supports educating and teaching the "truth" he needs to remember that sometimes the truth is ugly, that life is NOT always fair and that you cannot tuck your children away from the world and shield them from everything.

If he doesn't like the way the school system handles these things, then he doesn't have to send his kids to those schools. It's a simple solution. To my understanding, only one of his children attends the public school.

Being he's never been a girl, or a teenage one at that, I'm willing to bet he was that special adolescent who never did anything wrong. I'm sure he was the perfect son who never rebelled against the wishes of his parents or authorities. I guess he never felt like the adults around him were foolish, stupid and oblivious to the perils of being a hormonal teenager and he never misbehaved or did ANY of the things he finds so morally reprehensible in these books he wants banned.

I'm also willing to bet that he's never been raped and has NO understanding of how HARD it is to talk about what happened, let alone believe you aren't the only one suffering the pain and agony and fear. You feel like the ONLY person who's ever been attacked, ever been violated in such a personal way and that no one else could possibly understand.

The selections he skimmed from the story for his examples were taken GREATLY out of context and he clearly misrepresented the book to the best of his ability to make it appear he knew what he was talking about. He armed himself with all the "lines" that seemed to most significantly get his fanatical point across.

He defined the book and scenes in the book as "soft pornography" in his opinion piece, but amusingly, he has since tried to retract that definition when his use of it was called into question. In fact, he claims he didn't call it that at all, though it's clear that he did.

SPEAK is a far cry from the "definition" Mr. Scroggins labeled it. The rape scenes are in NO way gratuitous or graphic. They do not inspire sexual arousal, but more a sense of anger and desire to see justice- not just for Melinda, but for anyone who has ever gone through such a thing.

My children are still too young yet to read SPEAK, but only because neither of them have had sex education in school- YET. Once they have been educated about their changing bodies, hormones and sex, I think SPEAK will be a great learning tool to share with them and discuss. There are a lot of good points to learn from in the book- girls aren't objects, we are not alone in this world in times of trouble, and most importantly- never be afraid to SPEAK.

I will encourage my kids to read this and other banned/contested books, even if it isn't required in our school system. I, for one, would rather arm my children with knowledge and understanding and love than send them out into this big world wearing rose-colored glasses that tint their views with ignorance, misgivings and close-mindedness.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banned Books Week

In honor of Banned Books Week (September 25 through October 2) I'm going to step outside my comfort zone just a little bit.

Thanks in part to one of my favorite writers, Yasmine Galenorn, I became aware of Laurie Halse Anderson's recent blog in regard to one man's call to ban Laurie's book SPEAK because it should be considered "soft pornography."


Because of two rape scenes in the story.

Mind you, I have not read this book, being its a young adult novel and I haven't read much in the way of those kinds of books in quite some time, but a couple of days ago after reading Laurie's blog I decided I AM going to. I ordered it and expect to get it sometime next week from Amazon and I'm going to read it during Banned Books Week.

When issues reach the heart of me, it weighs heavily and the idea of a book being banned for such a ludicrous reason blew my mind. And made me toss and turn all night.

My issue with the man's reasons for banning the book bothered me to my core because in NO WAY would I EVER categorize rape as pornography. defines pornography as-

1: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement


I'm sorry, but I don't think writers ever set out to write a rape scene to arouse the reader.....Being raped is NOT sexually exciting or arousing for anyone but the rapist.

The idea that anyone with a good heart and moral fiber would ever consider it pornography is beyond my comprehension and it disgusts me to think they could ever come to that conclusion in regard to it.

I will not get too deep into the details of my past, but I've been there and I am a survivor of such a violation of my physical being. It also violated my mental and emotional being and I know how mortifying it can be when the shock wears off and you are faced with the reality of what has happened and whether it changes the core of who you are.

I didn't "speak" about what happened to me and held the fear and anxiety inside for a long time, blaming myself, feeling as though I somehow "asked" for it, that I had fallen victim to being a statistic because it was someone I knew. Someone I considered a friend.

Time has helped heal it, but it still infuriates me when I see people who don't understand that rape is not a consensual pleasureable activity between two people. It's an invasion on so many levels and in so many ways.

As for someone who speaks now from experience, I have to wonder HOW this man came to the conclusion that he could define rape in the same context as pornography and it begs the question- If you can't tell the difference between the two, who are you to judge?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That Only Happens in Romance Novels....

Do men ever apologize for things? Surely you jest!

It's been my general experience that men don't apologize very often because they usually feel entitled or believe they are right the majority of the time. At least that's usually the case with my husband! LOL

I mean, after all, why should they apologize for being right about things they don't feel they've done wrong?

Well, today, one of my best friends proved to me that men can say they're sorry when they feel badly enough about something. And I thought that only happened in romance novels! Ha!

In fact, in this case, my friend apologized for being mad at me for the past week because he thought I'd given him a little too much hell over a situation he's been dealing with in his personal life. He thought I came down on him too hard. So he'd been mad...

At ME....
For a WEEK...

I told him I hadn't meant to make him mad. In fact, I had only hoped to spare him the hurt of obsessing over something he couldn't control at the time. I didn't want to see him make himself sick, worrying over something that would just have to pan out on its own....After all, I'll admit, I tend to do the same thing— far too often in my own life. I thought I was telling him not to "sweat the small stuff" but he thought I was just being b!tchy. LOL

I will tell you right now, though I'm STILL smiling about it. Not because I hurt his feelings and made him angry with me, which I rarely do, by the way...but that I never even knew he was mad, yet I received a heartfelt apology this morning out of nowhere.

Just when I was feeling the lowest I have in quite some time.

Plagued by heartbreaking dreams last night, I awoke melancholy and unsettled (as I stated on my Facebook status this morning). I had already shed a few tears Niagra Falls, making my chest hurt and my eyes red and puffy.

I tend to dream vividly. Always have and probably always will...sometimes to the point of being intuitive. I can't count the instances of deja vu I've experienced in my lifetime, those moments of "I've done this/been here before."

I also tend to dream in color, with most of my senses in tact and all the fibers of my being making the majority of my dreams feel as though it's reality. And well, the dreams I had last night left me full of sadness and heartache over circumstances in my life that have no rhyme or reason. Things I have no control over---ironic, isn't it?

But then my friend's called this morning, and his apology for the week-long grudge against me, took me by TOTAL surprise.

I didn't know whether to feel bad that I hurt his feelings~ which I do because I love him and wouldn't ever do anything to hurt him intentionally~ OR laugh my butt off because I rarely, if EVER, get apologies for ANYTHING and this one was so random and out of the blue and hilarious that I nearly fell out of my chair. I've never been apologized to for something I didn't even know about! LOL

He could have simply kept his mouth shut and never told me. I would have been none the wiser. But it makes me smile, even now to think he cares about me enough as his friend that he couldn't stay mad and even felt that HE needed to apology for something I might never have known about except for his admittance.

That speaks volumes about friendship. And about good men in general and I'm thankful to have him for one of my best friends. If only ALL men saw it that way!

But that only happens in romance novels, right?