Opposition to YA Yet Again

Laurie Halse Anderson has posted on her Livejournal an entry about a man who has declared that her novel Speak is “soft-core pornography” due to the rape scenes.  In my review of Speak I did not address the sexual issues brought up in the novel because I didn’t want to include any spoilers.  But now I am going to speak out and up about my view of it.

Not once while reading the book did I feel like I was reading something inappropriate.  Quite the opposite in fact.  I feel that Anderson did a great job of fully explaining the events in a graphic but NOT pornographic manner.  As Anderson points out in her blog entry calling it pornography implies that readers would be getting some sort of sexual gratification out of reading it.  I can’t imagine any healthy individual becoming aroused by reading Speak.

How are we supposed to educate our youth about important and unfortunately somewhat common issues if we can’t write books that talk about them?  When I become a parent I will encourage my children to read stories that keep them informed and challenge them to think about life and the choices they will have to make and situations they may find themselves in.  I will use these books to start constructive conversations and I hope that others are currently doing this with their teens.

You can check out Laurie Halse Anderson’s post here.

I feel this goes along with the book banning issue I recently addressed.  Let me know your opinion on that in my Book Banning Poll.


2 Responses

  1. I teach 8th grade in a Catholic school and as such, have to choose the books in my library very carefully. I do not want to be seen as encouraging my students to read books which contradict Catholic values. I have absolutely NO ISSUE with having Speak on my shelf, or having my students read it. In fact, I encourage them to read it (I teach all girls and I think it is important for them to realize and face the reality that real life is not like a TV show…something I think Speak does very well). My students who have read it have spoken highly of the book and have been able to articulate that they like how Melinda goes from not having a voice to having a voice. WOW, how can a book which can generate student conversation like THAT be considered inappropriate or pornographic? My basic rule of thumb (which I tell my students) is that if the book deals with the life issues, instead of just presenting them as happy-go-lucky, I will have it on the shelf. Therefore, I’m fine with Speak and Go Ask Alice, but not Gossip Girls. (I’m not a big fan of banning books, but I am a HUGE fan of my job, so I pick my battles, and having Gossip Girls or casual drugs/sex/alcohol use on my shelf isn’t a battle I usually choose to have, although for really great books I will fight.)

    • I agree with this wholeheartedly. Even in public schools I think you do have to be careful- I too think there is a big difference between books that talk about real issues and show consequences and those that just show teens behaving however they want without ever having to deal with the reality of their choices. Hopefully there are more teachers/librarians/parents like you than like the men and women who keep advocating the banning of these books. Thanks for commenting!

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