Monday News: victim-blaming, ghostwriting, and messaging in books
In regard to sexual assault on college campuses, you may find this letter (pdf) from the Office of Civil Rights of interest, which provides guidelines within which campuses should be handling sexual assault cases.
Rolling Stone distanced itself from the story on Friday, after The Washington Post and other media outlets described problems with the reporting. In response on Friday, the magazine’s managing editor Will Dana wrote, “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account.” (Later on, Rolling Stone quietly removed a portion of its apology that referred to Jackie — “our trust in her was misplaced” — without noting the change.) –Mashable
Inevitably, some people have asked if how much it actually matters that the book may be ghostwritten. As the Bibliodaze blog put it: “80,000 sales in one week speaks a hell of a lot louder than this kind of discussion, and many of Sugg’s fans will remain dedicated to their idol.” . . .
On the back cover of Girl Online, Sugg is quoted as saying: “My dream has been to write a book, and I can’t believe it’s come true. Girl Online is my first novel and I’m so excited for you to read it.” The biographical details on the book say that Sugg “has been writing stories ever since she was little”. –Telegraph
In a single story I might be more willing to overlook this troubling trope, but reading so many instances in such a short time period really made me question how we were portraying our girls in YA fiction and what we are saying to them, at least subliminally, about relationships. So while an author might argue that it isn’t their job to teach or write in a way that transforms young minds, we must also be honest with ourselves and admit that part of the reason we embrace literature and things like We Need Diverse Books is because we do in fact believe that part of how we view ourselves and the world around us is informed in part by the literature we read. We spend a great amount of time and verbiage extolling the power of reading to open minds and create empathy, which means that we believe that literature can influence our thinking. So I would like to see less books that suggest we as women should overlook the fact that a guy is willing to completely undermine a girl’s personal agency and find them in any way desirable. In my opinion, being kidnapped by another person is such a horrific offense that it should be a deal breaker. Subverting a person’s free will and personal autonomy, controlling them, manipulating them, coercion – these are all abusive practices, not romantic in any way. We need to find better ways to tell our stories that re-enforce the idea that female agency is important. –School Library Journal
On whether her books have a message
I try very hard to stay away from the word “message,” because I think it’s poison in fiction. I think you tell your story and then the reader gets to decide what he or she will learn from your story. And if they don’t want to learn anything from it, that’s their choice. –NPR