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Frisky Q&A: Speak Author Laurie Halse Anderson On RAINN, Rape Culture & Consent

laurie halse anderson

Every year, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, when many of us participate in Take Back The Night speak-outs and marches to raise awareness about sexual violence in our communities. This year, the beloved young adult novelist Laurie Halse Anderson has thrown her support behind a fundraiser for the Rape Abuse And Incest National Network (RAINN), one of the main resources in our country for survivors of sexual violence.

Anderson is the author of Speak, a YA novel about 16-year-old Melinda Sordino, who is raped by a classmate at a house party the summer before 9th grade. Melinda calls 911, and the police break up the party, but she runs before she can tell anyone about the assault. When school begins, Melinda is shunned by her former friends for getting kids in trouble. Eventually, she stops talking almost entirely, grows isolated from her parents and tanks her schoolwork.

But Melinda is also mentored by a fellow outcast, an art teacher. She is able to name what happened to her and find her voice again. Published in 1999 and sadly still relevant in post-Steubenville, Speak explores the post-traumatic stress disorder that survivors suffer after an assault, but also the social ostracization of victims of sexual violence instead of perpetrators.

Throughout April, donations for RAINN will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Speak‘s publisher, Macmillan, in honor of the book’s 15th birthday. I called Laurie Halse Anderson this week and we spoke about the success of her best-selling book, teaching consent to teens, and recent controversial statements made by the president of RAINN about how “rape culture” doesn’t exist. Our conversation begins, after the jump!

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Etsy Finally Removes Seller Of “I Only Rape Pregnant Women” T-Shirts

etsy rape tee shirts

Etsy.com has finally removed a seller, “fyourt,” which was selling many, many tee shirts with sexually violent slogans like “I only rape pregnant women” and “Five-year-old slut seeking sugar daddy.”  After public pressure from the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network and other anti-sexual violence activists on a Change.org petition on October 23,  Etsy initially shut down pages for individual tees.  Now the site has just removed the seller entirely, citing violation of the site’s terms of use for not promoting violence.  I commend Etsy for doing the right thing, though I’m not sure why it took a full week.  [RAINN]

Today’s Lady News: “Unfollow Charlie” Sheen Tees Will Raise Money For RAINN

Why Domestic Violence Victims Stay
domestic violence photo
Should we ask victims of domestic violence why they stay? Read More »
  • Courtesy of women’s rights activists, “Unfollow Charlie” tees are for sale on Zazzle.com — in reference to actor/domestic abuser Charlie Sheen’s Twitter — and proceeds will go to the Rape, Abuse Incest National Network. I love it! [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • The New York Times turns a keen, lustful journalistic eye to the “lesbian until graduation” college girl phenomenon. [NY Times]
  • Why aren’t there more female airline pilots? Because they’ll get their period and crash the plane, duh. [CNN]
  • Ever wondered if it was an insult when someone called you a “breeder”? (It is.) Check out this official lesbian dictionary of “lezicon” from the chicks at After Ellen and tonight you can go call someone a “beersexual”! [After Ellen]

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Today’s Lady News: Mackenzie Phillips Spurs 26% Increase In Rape Reports

  • The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network hotline has reported a 26 percent increase in phone calls since Mackenzie Phillips told Oprah that she had an incestuous relationship with her father, John Phillips. RAINN also said website traffic has increased 83 percent since Phillips’ appeared on “Oprah” earlier in the week to promote her book High On Arrival. A RAINN spokeswoman said it is common for rape reports to increase after such a public confession. [ABC News]
  • Police arrested a pilot for stalking his ex-girlfriend by hovering a low-flying airplane over her home. Several dozen residents of Concord, CA called to report that Tom Huey’s single engine aircraft was too close to a house, which turned out to belong to his ex. Huey is held on $155,000 bail on suspicion of felony stalking and violating a restraining order. [Fox News]
  • The percentage of homeless female veterans is growing at a higher rate than male veterans, according to advocates for the homeless, with roughly 740 former women of the military living on the streets. This number is extremely troubling because only 15 percent of the U.S. Army is female. [CNN]
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    Young Woman Takes Her Sexual Assault Story To YouTube

    CNN has a fascinating and heartbreaking story of a girl who posted a video on YouTube alleging that she was raped. In the video, a 16-year old girl cries, “Hi, my name is Crystal … I need some help. I didn’t want to do it this way, but it’s the only way I know that’s going to work, that someone out there in the world is gonna listen to me.” It seems Crystal, who did go the police about her sexual assault, decided to bring her story to YouTube after her case was dropped by her State Attorney’s office.
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