So today I want to talk about something that isn't book related at all. But it is Young Adult related. Sexual assault. I know it's pretty gritty stuff, especially for a review blog site like this one, but it's real and it's happening all over. So if you want to stop reading right now, I won't judge you.
Lady Gaga just released a new music video called it'll Til It Happens To You. The video focuses on sexual assault and sexual violence on college campuses. And watching this music video really moved me. It deals with some pretty graphic stuff that's scary as hell to think about. But I want to talk about it.
If you haven't already seen it, the video follows the stories of three college individuals. The first is a girl who gets raped/sexually assaulted in her dorm room by some guy. No alcohol or drugs were involved in her story and it really messes her up to the point where she doesn't leave her room or socialize. The second story is about a transgender boy who gets raped by a guy because the guy thinks that the individual is a girl and is trying to push that on him. The third story is about a girl who gets raped at a party. She goes there with her friend, and some guy roofies the both of them, but only ends up raping just the one girl because her friend sort of manages to get out of it and get them both out of that party.
I have always been terrified about going to parties as a college student myself. I hear the rumors about people being drugged and certain fraternities that are known for doing it. I have been to my fair share of parties and haven't always made the best decisions at them. And neither have my friends. We all try to stick together at these things, making sure at least one of us is sober, so that nothing ever happens to us, and so far we've been extremely lucky. But not everyone is. I count my blessings every day that I have had the fortune to not be a victim to such heinous crimes, but I know that not everyone is as lucky. In fact, one in five college women will be sexually assaulted this year alone. How scary is that? That is twenty-percent of the female population of your campus. And something need to be done about.
Some tips if you're planning on going out drinking over the weekends, or even hitting up that fraternity that's been advertising their party for the past month, that I've abided by and have worked for me:
-Don't drink anything given to you that's already open. If some frat guy hands you a beer, it most likely is safe to use. I won't say completely safe because I heard in one of my lecture classes that there is a way to drug an unopen can of beer, so be wary.
-Don't set your drink down/leave it unattended. This is easily one of the most common ways a roofie or other drug can be slipped into your drink. You're not paying attention, somebody takes notice, and next thing you know you have an identifiable drug in your drink and can't remember the rest of the night.
-Always stick with your friends. Don't ever party alone. It's not safe. Anything can happen. If you plan on going to a party, go with friends, and keep tabs on each other. Which brings me to...
-Have a DD. DD's are way more important than transferring you to and from the party. A DD is the person that keeps an eye on you all night and makes sure you don't do something completely stupid at the party that you'll probably regret when you wake up. They stop you from going into the VIP room with some random frat guy and they can be an extra set of eyes on your drink.
More importantly than partying safely, I also wanted to talk to you about what the song is saying. You won't understand what someone is going through until it happens to you, yourself. Sexual assault is not something that can be consoled by a good friend. It's dark and twisted and not in the good YA book way. It's scary and scarring. I know that I personally have never been in a victim's shoes, but I do know that if it has happened to you, you should speak up. There is someone out there who understands and can help you. Help is the most important thing.
I am happy to see awareness being raised more and more these days regarding sexual violence, especially those celebrity "No Means No" campaigns that are reaching way more people than a flyer on campus will.
Now because this is a book review blog, I want to circle this post back around to literature. There are plenty of YA novels out there that talk about sexual assault and violence and the stories of the people in them working their way out of it. But the books that are typically reviewed on this site (the paranormal, fantastical, dystopian, supernatural kind) don't usually have problems like that - the Wake series did however, if you'll recall. But I think that this should be talked about more in these books. I'm not saying, in every YA book released we need to have this in there, but I'm not saying author's should shy away from the topic because of how intense it is. It's a real thing that happens, so it should be a real topic that's written about. The more we talk about it, and the more we show lovable protagonists over coming obstacles us normal folk have to, the better it will be in the long run. If you don't talk about it, no one's going to stop it.
Sorry, if this was a bit too intense of a post for all of you. Don't worry, I'll be getting back to reviewing books in no time and recommending great ones to start reading. I just think that topics like this need to be talked about every once in a while because it's easy for people to pretend it's not happening when no one says anything.
Check back soon for more reviews! September 22nd the review for The Summer Marked by Rebekah L. Purdy will be up!