I feel so angry. I don’t know what to do with the anger or which direction to aim it at. I am drenched in disgust. I can’t watch a Hollywood movie without thinking: “I wonder who got raped so that this movie could get made?” Despite all the serious allegations, not a single person went to jail. I shake my head in disbelief.
In the future Hollywood movies will feature this end credit.
Since I have turned away from Hollywood, I find myself turning towards literature. I compiled a list of fantastic novels that deal with sexual violence or sexual harassment that might help to shed a light on the situation. So here is sexual abuse books:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I was reluctant to read this novel for a long time due to it’s difficult subject matter. When I finally did, I was amazed at what a fantastic book it is. The story deals with a middle aged man who is obsessed with a teenager. I found it interesting how whenever the protagonist meets a grownup woman, he describes how repulsive and disgusting she seems to him. This novel highlights a disturbing trend in our culture where females are only interesting when they are naïve and vulnerable. The minute a woman comes into her own, matures and becomes powerful she is immediately disregarded. Enough with pathetic men who are invested in women being weak. When it comes to sexual abuse books this one probably comes first to mind.
Martin John by Anakana Schofield
When I read the Louis C.K.story, I immediately thought of this novel. It tells the story of a public masturbator and the warped reality that lives in his head. The style of the novel is unique. Dark and twisted, the story reveals reality from a perspective that is completely different than my own.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
It tells the story of a young woman that is raped. This effects her life for many years afterwards in ways that are surprising. Even when the rapist repents and tries to make things right, his efforts are laughably inadequate.
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
It tells the story of a whole family that is affected by the rape of one of it’s own. I appreciated the nuanced family dynamics in the this novel. The down to earth description of the relationships between parents and children, siblings amongst each other brings them alive. By the end of this novel I felt that I knew every single member of the Mulvaney family. Prepare your tissue papers, you will cry while reading this book. Things get heart wrenching.
What do you think? What sexual abuse books would you add to this list? Let me know in the comment section.
The Last Girl By Nadia Murad
Nadia Murad is the first Iraqi to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The Last Girl tells her story of growing up in a small town in north of Iraq. The town is overtaken by ISIS and she is sold into sexual slavery after several members of her family are murdered. Essentially, this is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood with a slightly happier ending. It takes enormous courage to tell this story. This is certainly an important book to read. However, the book is not well written. I wish they hired a better ghost writer. In the hands of a better writer the threads of the story would have been woven together in a more cohesive manner. Certain elements of the story are fragmented leading to a jarring reading experience. I felt that Nadia Murad was harsh in her criticism of the family that helps her escape ISIS controlled Mosul. Here are people who risk their lives, go to great trouble and expense to save her and yet receive rebuke for not doing more to help others in the book.
My favorite passage comes from the part of the book where Nadia Murad narrates how certain parties attempt to take advantage of her story towards political means.
Your story can easily become a weapon to be turned on you.
One final point of contention, I object to using the word “girl” in the title when referring to a grownup woman.
Despite some of my reservations, I would highly recommend this book to everybody.