speakI’m probably the least likely candidate to post something about this as I haven’t had the chance to read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson yet.  It has been on my to read list for a while, and because of this controversy I’m about to talk about, it will be moved near the top of my list.

Dr. Scroggins, a professor at Missouri State University, wrote an article asking that the high schools in his area ban Speak because he believes this book is soft porn.  Now, because I haven’t read Speak, I cannot say whether the images described in this book are soft porn or not.  However, my gut feeling tells me they are not.  Rape is a very sensitive subject, and I can understand why some people are hesitant to read about it.  However, I also think that sometimes things need to be shown in their graphic nature (e.g. Schindler’s List) so that those who haven’t experienced what is being described can understand (even if it that understanding is infinitesimal compared to the understanding of someone who has experienced it).

Not only is Speak about the journey of a rape victim who learns to take her life back by dealing with her rape, it is also about that victim having a voice and learning to speak up about her attack.  I have been sexually assaulted, and like me, anyone who has knows the only way to come off as conqueror is to speak up about their experience and not let the perpetrator go away unscathed.  Victims should not feel that they are doing something wrong by speaking up about their attack, or by taking back the control that was ripped from them during their attack.  Victims need to be able to talk about what happened to them so that they can heal from their experience.  Victims need to know they aren’t the only ones who have experienced the heartache they’re feeling; they need to know they aren’t alone.  And, if Speak does or can do that, then it’s worth reading.

There is a possibility when I read Speak that I will not like it.  However, no matter what my opinion ends up being, I do not believe it, or any other book for that matter, should be banned.  Yes, there are a lot of smutty and raunchy books out there that I will not read.  However, I have no right to keep someone else from reading those books.  Everyone needs to make their own decision as to what types of books they deem are worthy to be read.

In the case of children, I do believe that parents have the right to limit the books they want their own children to read.  However, I don’t believe that any parent, professor, or government official has the right to decide what another person’s child should be allowed to read.

In my opinion, controversial topics are a chance for parents to teach their children, to help them understand the atrocities in this life, and most importantly, to more fully appreciate the beauty and love this life can offer.  You cannot appreciate the good without knowing the bad, and you cannot always shelter your children against the atrocities of this world.  Isn’t it better to arm your children with the skills and coping mechanisms needed to deal with these atrocities instead of hoping they’ll be able to figure it out on their own when they’re older or when they encounter them?  I sure wish my parents would have taught me how to deal with my assault instead of always shying away from the bad things as if they didn’t exist.  The last 18 years have been a very long, and ofttimes rocky, road to understanding, forgiveness, and healing.  Banning books deprives parents and children of these opportunities to arm them with the knowledge they need to get through this life as unscathed as possible!

Even if you haven’t read Speak like me, speak up and support Laurie Halse Anderson and do not let her book be banned!  Spread the word that banning books is wrong and banning Speak is harmful.  Here are a few places to start:


  1. says

    I read it and really, it’s not even close to soft porn. I read one book that was bordering that and Breaking Dawn is bordering that too.

    Anyways, this book does deal with an incredibly sensitive subject. It shouldn’t be banned at all. I think it could help so many other girls in a position like that. I could also see it bringing awareness to others. It certainly did for me.

  2. says

    I just read this and your prior post about what happened when you were a teenager, and I’m totally stunned. Despite your on-again, off-again support from your family, I’m glad you finally realized that NONE of it was your fault, neither the event nor the fall-out afterwards. It is completely his doing.

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had to live with this guy in your life and that it’s caused such strive within your family. Although I’m sure it was hard, your speaking out may have saved one of your nieces from going through what you did.

    Yay that you have a man like Corey in your life. He sounds like a wonderful guy!


  3. says

    There is a possibility when I read Speak that I will not like it. However, no matter what my opinion ends up being, I do not believe it, or any other book for that matter, should be banned.

    EXACTLY. It’s so nice to see that even people who haven’t read the book are sticking up for people’s right to read it. I’m so sorry that you were the victim of sexual assault, but know that most people who read this post will respect you SO MUCH for your courage to speak out.

    And thanks for the link love!

  4. ouisa says

    I too haven’t read Speak, I’d like to. But here’s my take, seeing as pornography by definition is produced for the purpose of stimulating erotic feelings, I cannot see how a book about being a victim of rape can be pornography. There is nothing erotic about rape (for a healthy person).

    I have many friends who have been raped or sexually abused, two of them never spoke out about it for fear other mormons would condem them, not allow them to go on missions or marry in the temple because well they had “sex.” Meanwhile I had to accept the sacrament blessed by one of their rapists. People that insist that rape can be equated with “sex” (or pornography) only perpetuate the act of rape and those that do it getting away with it. I think books like this and discussions that can come from it allow kids the freedom my friends did not have.

  5. says

    Laurie – Thanks for the hugs and thanks for bringing this controversy about Speak to my attention. I really appreciate it.

    Natalie – I hope that others who have never read this book would stand up for others’ rights to read this books as well. Hopefully, this whole Internet campaign will show this professor that what he deems as soft porn is actually a help for victims of sexual assault.

    Ouisa – I agree. There is nothing erotic about rape to a healthy person. Therefore, this book cannot be considered porn. From what I’ve gathered, the scenes aren’t even that graphic anyway. I just think this professor doesn’t want to deal with the fall out. I think he wants what my parents want for something as horrible as rape to just go away and not deal with it by speaking out about it.

  6. says

    Jenni – I completely agree with you regarding book banning. And thank you so much for sharing your personal experience with sexual assault. None of that was your fault, and I’m sorry that you haven’t always received the support you deserve. I can only imagine how difficult that must be, and I admire your strength and courage in standing up for yourself. (I shared a link to this post in my blog post about Speak/book-banning this evening, hope that is okay.)

  7. Jake says

    I came over from your post on Ally’s site. I like your post. You have a very non-judgemental way of putting across your feelings which is refreshing. Thanks.

Leave a Reply