The first dozen times I heard this, I was horrified. But I heard it over and over again. I realized that many young men are not being taught the impact that sexual assault has on a woman. They are inundated by sexual imagery in the media, and often come to the (incorrect) conclusion that having sex is not a big deal. This, no doubt, is why the number of sexual assaults is so high."
Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, on the question “Have any readers ever asked questions that shocked you?”
Read that again. Read it again, and again, and again. Over and over guys have asked her why Melinda was so upset about being raped. This is a girl who went to a party with friends. She was thirteen. She had a drink, because everyone else was. And a senior held her down and raped her while she was too drunk to get away.
And guys don’t understand why she was upset.
Read that again and then come back and tell me again why I should just shut up and take a joke when a comedian blows off rape as a big deal, or women’s bodies are casually treated as commodities in media. Remind me why I shouldn’t care about the very real harm that society’s treatment of women and sexual assault does.
I am so grateful for this book, and the film of it. One night when I couldn’t sleep because I was having night terrors about a month after being raped, I stumbled across the movie while channel-surfing. It might have saved my life. A lot of things saved my life that first year.
Here’s the thing about the quote: this is not unusual. Look at Steubenville. Look at all the stories about rape in the last year, the last five years, the last decade: The concern is for the ruined lives of men who violate women. The blame is constantly shifted to women. Constantly.
These boys don’t understand why Melinda is upset because they are constantly taught that they are entitled to women’s bodies and that women who are raped are always in some way at fault.
They are not taught that explicit consent and capacity for consent are necessary.
This is why they don’t understand.
That should horrify all of us.