Beyond the Pages: Non-Consensual Sex and Double Standards
Beyond the Pages is a feature where I share my views on life issues or problems that books have made me think about. It's a discussion-based feature, and I hope to hear your views regarding these topics, and engage with me on the things that matter. If there's one thing that books can do, it is to spread awareness of big issues.
The Book That Brought This Topic Up
Firsts: A Novel by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
What This Book Is About
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.
Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.
When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
What It Got Me Thinking AboutWhilst this book got me thinking about loads of stuff, like safe sex, friendship breakups, etc., the thing that hit me the hardest was the issue of non-consensual sex (i.e. rape) and double standards.
Personally, I've never had to deal with the problem of non-consensual sex. Regardless of this, Firsts has really opened my eyes to this issue. Everyone (the news, health classes, parents) has told me that non-consensual sex is a no-no - but it never struck me as so real and so necessary until I read Firsts. Being forced against your will to do anything is painful enough, but to be forced to do something so intimate? That's despicable.
I hear on the news about another person who's been raped, and that person pressing charges against the person/s who raped them. I've read statistics about how some 68% of people who have been raped never report it. There are statistics about how there are even more (about 98%) rapists that don't ever do time for it. Whilst this doesn't shock me, it makes me angry, because if there's a crime committed, I personally believe that people should do the time. There's no definitive research to back me up, but I believe that part of the reason that most people don't speak up about rape is because of victim blaming and double standards.
Victim-blaming is a huge issue in our world today. Nowadays, I think that a lot of people are afraid to come out and say they were raped for fear of being blamed for the crime, for fear of people telling them that they're lying, for fear of people telling them to stop ruining other peoples' lives with that serious accusation. It's true, rape and sexual harrassment are huge accusations in this world today and THEY DESERVE TO BE. Rape/sexual harrassment is a violent crime, and it should be treated as such.
I have had to deal with double standards. There are double standards everywhere. Some of my girl friends get earlier curfews than their brothers, aren't allowed to date whilst their brothers are allowed to. Crying is seen as a "pussy" thing to do for guys. These double standards are ridiculous, and forcing genders to conform to a norm is simply outrageous. Whilst conforming to a gender norm might help the society as a whole, it supresses the individual and their identity.
The double standards when it comes to sex is unbelievable. Whilst guys are applauded for sleeping with girls, girls are seen as whores, as easy, and other countless other derogatory phrases. When it comes to rape, girls can be seen as "asking for it" by dressing "provocatively". The situation can be reversed. Guys who are raped can usually never speak out - after all, the common view is that raping is usually done by men, right?
I'm done with this issue. Non-consensual sex, victim blaming, double standards...they all shouldn't be a part of our world! I want the world to be a much better place, one where these things aren't an issue. Sadly, unless something changes, this is the world we're stuck with.
DiscussionOf course, as I've never faced issues with non-consensual sex/rape, I wouldn't know too much about it. Let me know if there's anything that I should know in the comments below! Let me know what you think about Firsts! Let me know what you think about victim blaming, about double standards. Let me know if there are any great articles out there about this topic Let me know if there are ways to spread awareness about these issues- I want to hear what YOU think! I want to know more about this!
This was pretty much a HUGE rant. Remember, all of these are my opinions, and if there's something wrong with my facts, or my arguments, feel free to bring it up in a polite, considered manner.
Keep reading and loving books,
Reviews on Firsts
Victim Blaming, Rape and Double Standards