“Speak” is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, it is not a new book, it was first published in 1999. And this is not a review of the book, that will be on my other blog. In fact, this post has a spoiler in it so if you haven’t read the book and are planning to, you might want to not read this post. This is a chance for me to get on my soapbox about my favorite topic to get on my soapbox about, violence against women.

Melinda Sordino’s freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends — and even strangers — all hate her. Months pass and things aren’t getting better. She’s a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she’ll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, everything will change.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what happened at the party. In fact I knew before I read a review of the book with a spoiler that told me what happened that Melinda had been the victim of some sort of sexual assault, either rape or attempted rape, probably by a popular boy. What I didn’t understand when I was reading the book was why no one knew what happened, they all knew she called the police but not why. I was expecting that she was a pariah because she had claimed she was raped at the party but no one believed her, but no one knew why she called the police. The reason (here’s the spoiler) was because when the police got there, she ran away and didn’t talk to them. Of course then, you might ask, if she didn’t talk to the police then how did everybody know she called the police? I don’t remember that being explained. It’s really the only thing in the book that doesn’t make sense. It did not detract from the impact the book has had on its reading audience.

This book has an interview with the author in the back. I didn’t really read it, just kind of skimmed through it, one question and answer caught my attention:

Have any readers ever asked questions that shocked you?

I have gotten one question repeatedly from young men. These are guys who liked the book, but they are honestly confused. They ask me why Melinda was so upset about being raped.

She admits she was horrified, as she kept getting the question over and over she realized that many young men are not being taught the impact that sexual assault has on a women. I would go a step further and say a lot of young men don’t truly understand what rape actually entails. “Lots of Men Don’t Think Rape is Rape“. I keep reading on social media that we need to talk to our girls and boys about rape, tell girls how to protect themselves and boy to not rape. Parents need to do more. They need to educate their children, boys and girls, about what exactly rape is and why it is wrong. Boys can’t understand the emotional impact of rape unless someone explains it to them. Realize I am speaking in generalities here, I know there are some very aware young men.

Rape is a crime of violence and woman can feel it. Even when their life wasn’t threatened women report being afraid they would be killed. Some men don’t realize they are a threat to women simply because they are bigger and stronger than the woman. Also the way the ‘definition of rape’ has changed and the fact that many men are starting a ‘mens movement’, just makes me more afraid.

O.K. that’s all I can think of right now. Getting off my soapbox.

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