The essays that I read were excellent, but this is just too hard to read at the moment.
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In my defence, I'm not reading an upsetting book about rape culture right before bed because I'm still dressed and it's too early to go to bed. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Anyway, I found this quote from Aubrey Hirsch's essay Fragments amusing:
"If rape culture had a downtown, it would smell like Axe body spray and that perfume they put on tampons to make your vagina smell like laundry detergent."
๏ ๏ ๏ Book Blurb ๏ ๏ ๏
Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.
Who are the Nowhere Girls?
They’re every girl. But they start with just three:
Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.
Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.
Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may, in fact, be an android.
When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at the school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.
Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.
๏ ๏ ๏ My Review ๏ ๏ ๏
The Nowhere girls started off feeling very YA with emphasis on the Y. It also had its instances that felt very preachy with its WWJD (what would Jesus do) moments...and I don't do religion all that well. But it quickly became more than that, it takes the very serious subject matter of rape and gives you an uplifting tale of what you can do to make a difference...to make a stand...when you set your mind and heart on doing so. It takes the feeling of hopelessness that Asking For It gave me and turned it into something hopeful. With an exceptionally diverse cast of characters, that totally rocked, this book crept up on me and made me love it.
☆4.5☆STARS - GRADE=A-
๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏
Main Characters⇝ 4/5
Secondary Characters⇝ 4/5
The Feels⇝ 5/5
Theme or Tone⇝ 5/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝ 4.3/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇝ 5/5
Ending⇝ 5/5 Cliffhanger⇝ Nope.
๏ ๏ ๏
Book Cover⇝ It's okay...
Narration⇝ ☆4☆ for Rebekkah Ross, she wasn't too bad, she did have slightly different voices for each of the three main characters, but I still think it would have been better with three narrators.
Setting⇝ Prescott, Oregon
Source⇝ Audiobook (Library)
๏ ๏ ๏
Here we are again with body shaming, and shaming curly hair again as well (come on, what is so wrong with curly hair R.L Stine!?)
R.L Stine is huge with rape culture in his teen books. Yikes. I did not notice this when I read them as a preteen/teenager. It happens three times in this book. With the boys in the car, two guys in Chelsea's workplace and that scene with a drunk Sparks. (more details below) These are terrifying real-world situation that no person wants to be in. There is also an instance where they call another girl a tramp, so we've got slut shaming, too.
The mom going "you're attractive... if you lost a bit of weight...and put on lipstick"
Um NO... you can call a person pretty, regardless of their body weight. That is a good way to mess your kid up. I can relate to having someone in the family always bringing up weight. It is really painful when the shaming comes from the last people who should ever shame you and can leave lasting damage.
I can also relate to having someone always trying to get me to put on makeup. "Oh hey, if you just put on a little makeup." or "Here, let me show you how to fix your hair." No, mom, you might mean well, but I'm fine the way I am, thanks. I'm an adult now, so I think I can figure out how I want to do my hair or if I want to wear makeup or not. (Spoiler, I don't 99% of the time!)
Don't do this. If you try to force someone to change their looks (by adding makeup..etc) when they don't want to, you are basically telling them they are not good enough the way they are.
Throughout the book, her weight and looks are mentioned. There is also a scene where she compares her lunch (a normal size lunch!) to Nina's lunch of yogurt and an apple, saying "Nina is going to think I'msoooo fat, but if I only eat what she has, I will be starving!"
I'm not writing this word for word... but you get it.
Boy: How about a date?
Other boy: Plenty of room in here.
*boys laugh and make kissing sounds*
Boy: We're great. We're really great.
Other boy: Bet you're great, too.
Chelsea: Leave me alone!
Boy: Aww, that's not friendly?
Other boy: Don't you want to be friendly?
Chelsea: I'm warning you!
Boy: Aww, she's getting steamed
Other boy: That's not friendly!
This is rape culture. You know what these boys are doing and what they wanted to do to Chelsea, whether they would go through with anything or not is beside the point. It is disgusting that anyone would act like this.
Also, two guys do about the same thing to her when she is alone in her workplace.
Happens again later on when Sparks tells her to "be friendly" while he's basically chasing her around her workplace, saying and doing creepy things. He is also drunk.
Nina (The main character's oh-so-skinny friend) believes her boyfriend is going to leave her, because she sees him talking to another girl named Suki. Oh, the horrors! You know, he could have been asking help with homework, or Suki could be his friend, but no, jump straight to "he's cheating"
Nina says "Suki is such a huge tramp!" (I read another R.L Stine book that has Suki mentioned. She is kind of a stereotypical "hard rock bad girl" or maybe Goth (I can't remember) and acts/dresses differently and apparently has a reputation for sleeping around but it only feels this is so because of how Suki is stereotyped. In the other book, she is also treated the same way.)
I still love these books; yeah, I have a blind spot for them. I know they are outdated and problematic by today's standards. I'm reading them through nostalgia-colored glasses.
Afterthought: I just want to point out that the main character is mentioned as being "chubby" and the bad guy says she is "dark and chubby. Not real pretty but she's okay." The book talks about "fixing" her up by straightening her hair, wearing makeup and losing a few pounds.
These 80s & 90s teen books probably made a lot of people feel bad. Or if you were like me, you would just overlook the problematic stuff; it just went right over my head.
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
This collection of essays is a very enlightening one: about people who were raped and/or sexually assaulted, about those who work with them, about the rape culture that permeates so many places and societies.
The latter especially is worth mentioning, because little gestures, little ‘jokes’, everyday sexism and attitudes and ‘if you wear those clothes then You’re Asking For It’ sayings are the foundations of something deeper, something that leads to rape, and make it so that no matter what, the victims are still the ones who have to justify themselves. Justify the amount of times they said ‘no’; or whether they said it clearly enough (apparently, for many people, a woman who says no actually means yes… and they never question it, and therefore make a decision based on what they want to hear). Justify and quantify their pain: if it was ‘so bad’, shouldn’t they be dead? And, since they aren't, shouldn’t they be grateful that ‘at least they’re not dead’ (as if that could erase and negate what was done to them)? As if this was but a trifle, something that you just can, and have to, get over with, because mentioning it will Make Other People Uncomfortable.
I guess I should be grateful that the ‘only’ aggression I had to go through dealt with random guys deciding that fondling my thigh in the train was something they had a God-given right to do. Or grateful that they ‘only’ flashed their dick in front of my face. It wasn’t ‘that bad’, right? Well, screw that. At the root of it, our stupid, crappy society is still stuck on Man Sees, Man Takes (sometimes women do that, too, but it’s nevertheless much more often the other way ‘round, because Boys Will Be Boys, and all that rubbish we dump into boys’ heads when they’re still so little). And as long as we don’t wake up and grow up for a change, this won’t go away.
The styles are varied, by various authors (female, male, trans), including even an essay in comics format, while being close enough to clearly resonate as a whole. They read quickly and easily in terms of grammar/vocabulary, and yet remain powerful and hard to stomach as well, due to the theme they explore and the pain they deal with, whether they are actually depressing or carrying some form of hope.
These essays are definitely worth reading: as an eye opener for some, as a reminder in general of what is at stake, of the day to day attitudes towards sexual harassment, of all the tiny ways well-meaning people can and will say/do the wrong things.