Sexual Violence: How Young Adult Literature Extends the #MeToo Fight

Denouncing sexist and sexual violence is an endless battle, which Young Adult literature also takes on. In “Ninth on the List” the American Natasha Friend repeatedly invokes freedom of speech through fiction.

On a golf course, a high school girl wakes up with a foggy mind and a partially naked body. No matter how much she searches her memory of her, she can’t remember how she got there. Was Nora a victim of sexual assault or rape? Was she drugged without her knowledge? Spoiler alert: she was wearing a miniskirt and some relatives didn’t fail to point it out. Yes, we are still there.

If this beginning of the investigation is fictitious, the questions it raises are indeed real. According to a 2022 report by the High Council for Equality, one in five women under the age of 24 have experienced rape or sexual assault. Reports of chemical proposals have exploded since that same year…

Sex and drugs, not always rock’n’roll

Nora is the heroine imagined by Natasha Friend in his novel Ninth on the listpreserved in the “Young Adult” section of bookstores. Behind this term actually hides a myriad of different styles, from fantasy to dystopia to (very problematic, but that’s another story) dark romance. What do they have in common? Aimed at young people aged approximately 13 to 25, it addresses themes absent in children’s literature: the discovery of sexuality, emancipation, first relationships, drugs, suicidal thoughts and… violence.

If the genre is largely dominated by romance, Natasha Friend instead accompanies her readers through an exciting investigation worthy of a thriller. There are love stories, of course, but above all of friendship and family, while raising awareness on the issue of sexist and sexual violence (SGBV).

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All together

Where can I go for help and support if I am a victim? If someone close to me has been attacked, how can I help them? How can I encourage her to talk without rushing her or further traumatizing her? What levers do we have to help as witnesses? So many questions that may arise for those involved in such a situation, and demonstrate that the support of witnesses and/or loved ones is fundamental, starting with words like “You are not alone, I believe you”.

Natasha Friend chooses in her novel to change the narrator in each chapter. We alternate the points of view of Nora, of her best friend Cam, of the best man turned friend Adam, of her brother Asher… A quite intelligent process to show different sides of the same situation and develop empathy. Obviously we want, like her friend Cam, to push Nora to talk. But we also find ourselves in the victim’s flamboyance that she prefers denial, for fear of what she might discover and the consequences. Especially because Nora, a model high school student with a big heart, sporty and close to her family, she would never have imagined finding herself in such a situation…

Burn the patriarchy

Without ruining you, let’s find out in Ninth on the list violence which is not an isolated case and is part of a sexist and patriarchal system. While this isn’t very surprising, it’s still worth mentioning. It is precisely by freeing speech, as encouraged by #MeToo, that Nora and her friends manage to cross paths shows the extent of the phenomenon and how structural it is.

With a very moving story made of violence, but above all of a solidarity that warms the heart, Natasha Friend makes us want to riot AND sisterhood, a winning combination!

Sexual violence: resources

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, or you simply want to learn more about the topic:

  • The 3919 and the government website Let’s stop the violence
  • Information on raped women on 0 800 05 95 95, Monday to Friday, from 10:00 to 19:00.
  • The network of victims of France which brings together various associations and reception centers throughout France

Source: Madmoizelle

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