On Speak And Book Banning


Every morning, I turn on my computer, open up my email and open up twitter. These two sites keep me in touch with what is going on in the world. Today I log onto Twitter to see a hashtag blowing up my feed. That tag? #SpeakLoudly. Now this hashtag isn’t recommending you use your outdoor voice in the restaurant. OH NO, dear friend oh, no. Instead it’s a hashtag speaking out against book banning, specifically Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. You see, in the quiet state of Missouri, a crazy man named Wesley Scroggins wants to ban Speak. He likens rape to pornography. Now, if you don’t like a soap box get away from this post right now. Just click past me in your feed reader. X out of my blog. Go.

Some of you guys know me very well. We talk on twitter, we talk on g-chat. We exchange emails. You know that I work for a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault non-profit agency. You know that I go into schools and educate children about unhealthy relationships and rape. You know that starting Monday I am taking a course to be a certified rape crisis counselor. You probably know that I am very, very passionate about violence against women in our culture.
I get incredibly pissed off when someone insinuates that rape is pleasurable. I get pissed off when someone insinuates that rape is ‘softcore pornography.’ Don’t you fucking dare say that. I don’t directly work with or counsel the victims at my job. Although, I have spoken to these victims on the phone and have occasionally done an intake for the victims. The last thing on their mind is how pleasurable the rape was. Are you kidding me? These women are scared. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know whether to speak out and press charges or if they want to relieve the experience. Go to RAINN’s website. 60 percent of sexual assaults are NOT reported to the police. Why? Because A) we live in a culture where oftentimes the women aren’t believed B) the victim is often asked questions like — what were you wearing? We blame the victim, when studies show the convicted rapist often does not remember what the victim was wearing, because it is irrelevant and C) because only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.
Here’s the sad, sad thing – 15% of rape and sexual assault victims are under the age of 12. 44% of rape and sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. 1 in 6 women will be raped in their lifetime. Every two minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted. A book like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson reaches out to these victims and says YOU did NOTHING wrong. It says the rape is not YOUR fault. This is a book aimed by and large at teenagers, who make up a majority of rape victims. Don’t take this book away from those teens. SPOILER ALERT: Melinda, the main character comes forward and shares her story. To me, that’s a powerful lesson to teach someone one, that one should report the rape, as this is a crime that by and large goes unreported. In fact it is the most underreported of all violent crimes. Of course, that is why it is so incredibly important that Speak remain on the shelves. If it encourages just one high schooler to report being raped, then it has more than earned it’s place. If it reinforces the message that no means no to just one person, it has done it’s job.
To take this book off the shelves, to ban it from middle and high school basically says to me that whoever is doing the banning thinks rape does not happen to little girls. It makes rape invisible. It makes it the crime no one ever talks about. It makes whoever bans it complicit with rape culture. Because to ban Speak is to invalidate the experience of a survivor of rape. ESPECIALLY to ban it on grounds that the rape supposedly is softcore pornography. To me, the subtext of that banning says, hey survivors, your rape was basically pornography. No. Fuck that noise.
Guys, I don’t often rail, but this is something that makes me shaking mad. I mean, I had trouble not letting loose a stream of f-bombs. But, how fucking dare you, Scroggins? HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST FOR ONE MINUTE RAPE IS SOFTCORE PORNO? If I was a victim and he had said that to my face, I would slap him. I know, I know that is terrible, but right now, I am just so angry. Words cannot fully express my rage at this.
However, as a reader there are things you can do to combat this guy and and book banning. Buy books that have been banned. Get caught reading a banned book — read one in public. Blog about banned books. Write a letter to your newspaper editor in support of a banned book, especially if this book is getting banned in your hometown. Give banned books as gifts. Recommend a banned book to your friends. Pass the book around.
Knowledge is power. Don’t ever let anyone take that agency from you.
*Statistics taken from the RAINN website.
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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Great post. It is absolutely ridiculous to try and equate the rape in Speak (or any rape, for that matter) to pornography,

  2. Great post! I can't believe he did that!

  3. Brittany Landgrebe says

    I'm not yet coherent enough to write my own blog about "rape is porn." I get pissy about banning books, yes, but this has me fighting tears of frustration and utter disgust.

    Thank you for giving us hard facts. Powerful to see those numbers, and painful. This is why SPEAK should be handed to every young reader before high school or during it.

    • Well knowledge is power. The more people who know about rape, rape culture, the better we can fight it. The better we can stand up for these girls and boys who are victims.

      And yes, I teared up too.

  4. Great post, April! I am in agreement with you. A book like Speak might give a girl going through a similar situation a voice to stand up for herself.

    This is why I adore you and think you are awesome!!

  5. Jen (Makeshift Bookmark) says

    This is a fabulous post. Freaking epic. Someone should stick his testicles in a blender. I personally know a handful of rape victims. That shit doesn't go away. No one asks to be raped (dont even get me started on the defense that "she was asking for it with the way she spoke, acted, dressed" BS) and it's absolute horseshit that anyone could even partially consider rape to be pleasurable to the victim. Years after their experience, they STILL struggle with trust issues, self-esteem issues, relationship issues. Some can't fathom the idea of intimacy with a partner who legitimately loves them. Some victims actually blame themselves. NO ONE TALKS ABOUT LIKING IT. This is appalling. Like hiding it will make it go away.

    • Oh, victims absolutely blame themselves ‘well if I didn’t do this, then it wouldn’t have happened,” etc, because we unfortunately live in a culture that encourages victim blaming.

  6. halseanderson says

    Thank you, April. Your strength is contagious and your words are powerful. I'm really happy that survivors have someone like you to help them.

  7. Amazing post and great point. Attitudes like this make me so incredibly angry. I don't know HOW anyone can think like that. It makes me want to swamp this guy with angry letters letting him know just what rape really is. (Insert string of angry expletives here)

  8. Thank you, April.
    I keep writing things but they don't say what I want them to say.
    Just, thanks. And I think it's brilliant that so many people are channelling their shared rage about this situation in a way which will make such a difference.

  9. This was an amazing and informative post. I can't believe only 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail…that is a scary statistic.

    I've never read Speak but all of this talk about it has inspired to me to go pick up a copy. Then pass it on to another reader when I'm done.

  10. Awesome post! I wanted to scream everything you said in that Wesley guy's face!

  11. Fantastic post! The world needs blog posts like this. I think you're going to make an excellent rape crisis counselor.

  12. Just want to say that you've managed to put together a really coherent, informative post in the face of stupidity and provocation that would totally justify breaking out a whole range of swear words. Thank for making me aware of this guy and passing on your valuable expereince. Goes to buy Speak now.

  13. Great post April! I didn't know you are going to be a rape crisis counselor—I can't tell you how much I admire you for doing that. You will help many people in your life, and thank you for starting here!

  14. Great post April! I didn't know you are going to be a rape crisis counselor—I can't tell you how much I admire you for doing that. You will help many people in your life, and thank you for starting here!

  15. Lu @ Regular Rumination says

    AMEN. I didn't know you worked in a DV/SA center, I used to, too. I was technically an administrative assistant, but I did a lot of things, like interpreting for clients, going as a victim advocate to hospital exams and court cases and answering crisis calls. This goes against everything we work for and it's just… there are no words. Except for all the excellent words in this post, so thank you for writing it.

  16. Just Your Typical Book Blog says

    Wonderful post, April! I had no idea you are working with rape victims and I think it's wonderful you're doing that. You have every right to be angry and I'm to be apart of the many people who are joining in on #SpeakLoudly.

  17. AMEN!!!!!!

  18. Sheila (Bookjourney) says

    I must have been under a rock, I am just hearing about this book now. I had no idea you worked with Rape Victims.

    Thank you for writing this post and being so passionate. You brought tears to my eyes as I read it.

  19. Another Book Junkie says

    AWESOME post!!!!

  20. Great post, and thanks you for your comment.

    Reading your post gave me the strengh to go to college today. I didn't wanted to go after reading all those things about rape… I'm glad someone like you help survivors 🙂
    so yeah thanks you.

  21. I seriously hate people like this and wonder why the rest of us have to be subjected to such stupidity. The only thing that I would say to someone like that is what if it happened to you. I hate how some guys think they are immune hello idiot boys and men are raped too. Would you think it was porn if it was you. If some guy dragged you into a back alley raped you left you for dead would you think hey that should be taped so I can see it again later! God are people really this ignorant? So aggravating !!!! But great post and keep up your awesome work.

  22. I had no idea that was your job! That's wonderful!

    Loved this entry, well said!


  23. I'm quite disgusted at the viewpoint that Speak might ever be seen as pornography. This was one of my most favourite young adult books. The message was so subtle but it spoke louder as you got to the end. No one should have the right to take another person's voice. I suggest that this might be in anyway exciting is a disgrace. I really liked this entry and I hope more people stand up together.

  24. NotNessie @ Today's Adventure says

    Amen. I'm not usually one to hop up on a soapbox, but this whole issue has made me SO MAD.

  25. Thank you for posting this. I posted about this amazing book on my blog since i just finished reading it. This book should not be banned anywhere. It speaks to young adults so incredibly well and, as you said, makes sure victims know they did not do anything wrong.

    That rape is porn, especially when hand;ed like it is in this book is disgusting. My best friend in the world was raped by her father and didn't tell anyone until years after. I wish this book had been around then and I wish she had read it.

    If any girl reads this book and speaks up and reports the asshole that raped her…this book has done its job. If one girl tells her teacher, her guidance counselor, her parents, it has done its job. This book better not be banned. It CANNOT be banned. We all need to speak loudly.

  26. Shannon, StorySnoops says

    Great post! Well said! This book is absolutely a classic, so beautifully written and so important, especially for teen girls. How those crazy censors can equate the rape in this book to porn is beyond me. Ignorance is dangerous. This book speaks for all girls, for all victims. It should not – cannot be banned, as we would be gravely letting down many young people.


  27. I work with teen mothers. 99% of them had been molested/raped as children. For me, this is a direct result of that. It bothers me to no end when I hear supposedly educated people talk this way. What is even more scarier is that he is a professor at a university. How many students is he influencing with his ignorance? He thinks because he is morally superior, he can dictate what is read by all students. He wants to wall off his children, fine, let him. Can you imagine what would happen if one of his kids had this happen to them (and statistics show, it could very well). Would he have the same response? This is the thinking that went on in the ’50’s and ’60’s. Thankfully, we are beyond that.
    This book won’t be read by every teen, but it could help reach one that may have been a victim. It is important not to hide in silence and shame, but to speak out. Stop the banning of books.


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