Remembering What We'd Rather Forget by Patty Blount
I receive quite a lot of negative messages from people who think I'm too political. They just want me to be an author, not an American citizen with opinions who votes her conscience.
Sorry, that ain't gonna happen.
If you read my books, guess what? They're political. They shouldn't be, because in my heart, I'm writing about important issues and justice and equality. But they are, because women are still fighting for those things.
What if you're not a woman? These issues impact you, too. That's exactly why I wrote SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW (SIU2K), a novel that parents in Florida banned. (My book sales thank you for this, by the way.)
SIU2K deals with toxic masculinity, rape, and bullying. I suppose these concerned parents think if you read about these issues, they might happen to you.
I call bullsh*t on that. The truth is, I write about these issues because they ARE happening and I want you to be able to read about them in the safety and privacy of your home, your library, your dorm. I want you to know how to avoid these situations and if you can't, how to fight back and heal if you do experience them.
Let's start with the first group: women. I want us to remember the thousands of women who experience sexual assault and rape in our country, who may not receive justice because the perpetrators are athletes like Brock Turner, well known public figures like a coach or a prince or a senator, or a family member, like an uncle or a brother.
I want us to remember that women's bodies are not playgrounds for people to use and discard at whim.
I want us to remember that America was founded on the principle of liberty and justice for ALL yet there are huge segments of our population that have always been and still are not included in that capitalized word. We cannot be the LAND OF THE FREE unless and until women are allowed to make their own healthcare decisions and yes, that includes abortion. I don't care if you think sweet little babies are being murdered. I care about a woman who has her choice stripped from her.
Let's turn now to the men. Yes, these issues affect you, too. In SIU2K, I show how toxic masculinity compelled a character to participate in a misogynistic game that sent one player to jail and ruined countless lives. Toxic masculinity makes a game out of sex and if you believe a woman should be forced to bear the results of sex while men get to continue "having fun," "scoring," "getting lucky," "seeing some action," etc., then congratulations! You're a victim of toxic masculinity and likely have engaged in behavior to 'prove you're a man' in some peer-pressure manner that could very well have resulted in similar consequences.
Know what else? Your participation in these games means you and your friends or your brothers are LESS LIKELY to report sexual assault and rape when it happens to you.
What was that you said? Oh! You didn't think men could be raped? It happens. 1 out of every 10 victims is male, according to rainn.org. But most do not report their assaults and so, no justice is ever obtained and likely, no professional help for the trauma is ever sought. Because how would it LOOK to your pals if you admitted it happened to you?
I want us to remember all the male survivors of rape who have been gagged by our society and its toxic masculinity.
I write these books because I think fiction like mine is important for helping young readers develop empathy and challenging world views like what it means to be a real man. I write these books because I want us to remember what has happened, what could happen, so IT DOES NOT HAPPEN ANYMORE.
Let us remember the thousands who are victimized and will be forever victimized when basic human rights are stripped from us.