Are your high school students talking about the #KavanaughConfirmation hearings? They should be. The issues of body autonomy, toxic male culture, drinking (and marijuana use) and how it affects sexual consent are critical to their lives and their futures. If you were to assemble a stack of Young Adult contemporary literature and pulled one out of the stack Jenga-style, you’d be almost guaranteed to find a red Solo cup mentioned. Why? Because alcohol-fueled parties are the reality in the lives of many high school students. That’s not to say that everyone drinks but everyone is affected by the drinking.
Therefore, when your students ask you about the hearings, don’t shy away from the news. Use this critical national current event as a teachable moment and reach for literature. Literature is a discussion starting point that takes the events of the day away from the partisanship and allows students to see a moment in time from various points of view as in the beautifully crafted book Wrecked, by Maria Padian (Algonquin Young Readers).
Told not by the victim and accused in a college sexual assault allegation, but by their friends Haley and Richard, the reader is both caught in the swirling tempest of heightened emotions and also able to pick apart the threads of each argument that makes the storm. We see the parents, the fictional MacCallum college administration, the campus organizations and each response to the allegations and investigation of the night in question. In her 2016 interview with Book Riot Padian says:
“I want readers to experience Wrecked the way we experience all reports of sexual assault: from the other side of a closed door. I want them to experience the discomfort of thinking they know what happened, then seeing from another point of view and having their assumptions challenged. Repeatedly.”
While Wrecked is set on a college campus it is a crucial read for teens. Says Padian:
“Young people are sexually active long before they reach college. Exposure to issues surrounding consent needs to happen long before they are set loose on a campus! Wrecked dramatizes the transition, from high school to college, when young people are sorting out who they are now that they have left the confines of their childhood homes. It’s a crucial period, and would interest teens on the cusp of that change, as well as those who have recently entered that new world and are currently navigating it.”
Make Wrecked and these other fine books available to your high school students and children. And for the love of all that is holy…these books should be read by girls AND boys.
Two of my other favorite YAs on this topic:
And eleven others in this Bustle list of YA Books that tackle Sexual Assault and Rape Culture.
And these nonfiction titles:
Good and Mad, Rebecca Traister
Girls and Sex, Peggy Orenstein
Our children are watching and reading. Tell me in the comments what books on this subject made a difference to you.