End of Week Review: January 12, 2018 (I'm Back Edition)

Okay, okay. So maybe my New Year’s resolution from 2015 to blog more took some time to get through. Only three years late, right? But after officially finishing binge-watching (well, binge re-watching) every Office, House, and Modern Family episode, I really have no excuse for my blog silence. So here we go!

Favorite experience this week: I finally got to play my dad in badminton again for the first time in several months.

Least favorite experience this week: Losing in a blowout to my dad in the aforementioned badminton game.

Wackiest experience this week: Someone random on Twitter started tagging me in a series of odd writing prompts. I think the universe is trying to tell me to finish my work in progress.

Interesting article this week:Want to Know Why Tumblr is Cracking Down on Sex? Look to FOSTA/SESTA” in The Establishment (giving a really good outline for the counterarguments to two government bills)

Favorite book this week: Sadie by Courtney Summers. I saw everyone on Twitter talking about this book, so I finally sat down to read it. I join the chorus of readers who are officially wrecked in the aftermath. The hype isn’t a joke.

Photo from this week:

My cat, Zyva, deciding the wombat stuffed animal my friend Caitlin bought for me is now hers

My cat, Zyva, deciding the wombat stuffed animal my friend Caitlin bought for me is now hers

If You're Writing About Assault ...

Content warning: this post will discuss sexual violence


By popular request, I’ve decided to write a post (or rather, rewrite something I posted years ago on an anonymous Tumblr) about a major trend in Young Adult books right now: sexual assault.

As a sexual assault survivor who longed to see myself in literature beyond Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, I’m excited to see authors tackling sexual violence in YA literature. However, with this trend obviously comes the issue of how sexual assault is written about. Some YA books about sexual assault are written by authors with limited personal experience , so I thought I’d put together a post (like this one I did about queer stereotypes in YA) on tips for writing about sexual assault.

  1. Sexual assault is not a plot device. I can’t say this enough. It’s not for shock value, waking up drifting readers, or just making a book “edgy” or “modern” (given #MeToo). So if you’re just putting sexual assault in your book casually for shock value, please don’t. It’s serious and if you’re going to put it in your book, you need to do it with tremendous thought and care.

  2. Graphic details aren’t necessary. Most of the YA books I’ve read that I find do justice to sexual assault don’t have tons of graphic details. Sure, they have some, but the details are limited. For example, All the Rage by Courtney Summers just mentions a hand on the survivor’s mouth. A small detail, but not too graphic. Some books mention some physical pain in the aftermath. If you’re adding a bunch of graphic details beyond that, ask yourself why. They aren’t needed to show the reality of how sexual assault impacts survivors, and honestly, graphic details can often come across as being mostly for shock value. It’s YA, not porn (to be blunt).

  3. Survivors react differently. One of my friends moved on pretty normally; one didn’t know it was sexual assault until months later; one had a nervous breakdown; I tried to act normal but inside I totally lost it, though people tell me I seemed normal on the outside. Some days are normal, others are a mess, often for no specific reason. Not everyone melts down, and not everyone can ignore it; vary up your character’s reactions!

  4. Survivors and perpetrators can be anyone. Survivors can identify as any gender and be assaulted by people of any gender. Not all survivors are able-bodied. Not all survivors are white (and people of color are actually more likely to be assaulted). While most perpetrators are white cisgender men, some aren’t.

  5. Assaults can fit different molds. I usually only see two types of assaults in YA literature: an assault at a party where the survivor is drunk, or childhood sexual abuse where the survivor totally hates the abuser, and that’s about it. Oh, and everything happens at night. Assaults can totally fit that mold, but assaults can be totally different. They can be within intimate relationships that already exist, in households, at school, etc. Statistically most assaults happen during the day. And maybe the survivor doesn’t hate the perpetrator completely.

  6. Listen to survivors. Don’t use Law & Order: SVU as your guide. Look at what actual survivors say about their experiences for guidance online, and when they talk about things that bother them in depictions of violence or come to you directly about a problem with something you’ve written, don’t ignore them. (P.S. Feel free to contact me if you have a concern about something you wrote.)

In summary, be intentional, empathetic, and careful. Sexual assault is so important in the lives of young adults, and if you write about it well, you can change someone’s life.


Do you have suggestions for what to add to this list? Comment below or Tweet at me (it can be a DM) and I’ll add it!

Here are things suggested through comments and DMs thus far (edited for grammar and clarity):

  • Not every assault is rape, and rape isn’t necessarily more severe than other forms of assault.

  • Putting your rapist in jail isn’t always the goal and isn’t always necessary to healing.

  • Telling people about a sexual assault isn’t always this moment where everything changes for the better. Sometimes it sucks.

Re: The New York Daily News's Editorial

Content warning: sexual/police violence

Today, the New York Daily News ran an editorial supporting incarceration as a means of addressing sexual violence. I am the girl whose rapes the New York Daily News perverted to justify incarceration and policing as the appropriate way to address sexual violence. I am not okay with that.

Title IX is lifesaving. Among the many facets of Title IX that set it apart from the criminal justice system are the burden of proof being attainable ("preponderance of the evidence"), its provisions that dictate students should receive accommodations (counseling, housing accommodations, academic assistance, etc.), and its focus on the victim (versus the criminal justice system, which is centered around state retribution). Simply put, when implemented properly, Title IX addresses gender-based violence in a way that is friendlier to survivors of violence than the criminal justice system and has consequences which do not endanger the lives of perpetrators (prevention education, suspension, expulsion).

In contrast, the criminal justice system is notoriously racially and socioeconomically biased. It is particularly ill-equipped to address the needs of Black, trans, and undocumented individuals, who experience violence at alarmingly high rates. Incarceration itself is a violent act, and prisons are often places where people are most vulnerable to experiencing sexual violence themselves. (And no, someone raping someone does not mean they deserve to be raped; no one deserves to experience sexual violence no matter how terrible of a person they are.) Perhaps most notable, incarceration is not even a deterrent from committing violent crime — the criminal justice system does nothing to address rape culture and the discrimination that intersects with gender-based violence — so we are subjecting people to the violence of the prison system without doing anything that could actually prevent future violence from occurring. Finally, we all know the criminal justice system rarely addresses sexual violence when it is reported. The burden of proof and trauma of a trial are too high for most survivors.

I did ultimately report to the police and Manhattan DA, as I have stated repeatedly. While I was fortunate, likely by virtue of my identity (white, cisgender woman) and socioeconomic status, to not face the same horrific commentary and disbelief many survivors face, the criminal justice system was not able to provide me with the actual relief I required: academic, medical, and housing accommodations. In contrast, Columbia is actually supposed to provide those accommodations.

Justice for me is not inflicting violence upon another person, even my perpetrator. Justice for me is actually preventing future violence from occurring and providing support to survivors who have experienced violence. Columbia is failing on both fronts, and that is why they are being sued.

I never consented to anyone using my violations to justify state violence. Doing so is absolutely "an insult to [my] ordeal," and an insult to me as a human. If New York Daily News purports to care about ending sexual violence, maybe they should actually listen to survivors before they write.

2016 Year in Review

We made it to 2017! Yay! 2016 left me with little energy, so I don't have any bigger reflection on the last year.  Too many yucky things and tiring things and downright strange things. Here's to a (hopefully) more restful year.

Since 2016 was very surreal, I think it's fitting to make my year end photo album this time around a combination of photos and images I drew/painted (terribly) for a zine assignment in one of my classes. Enjoy!

Statement on Orlando

I wrote the following statement for my organization, and I feel compelled, given the gravity of what occurred in Orlando, to repost it here.


[CW - homophobia, transphobia, racism]

In going about writing a statement after the attack in Orlando, Florida on June 11, I realized quickly I didn't know what words to say; there's really no way to describe the horror of what occurred.

Throughout years of doing queer activism, I've seen a tremendous amount of bigotry. I've seen it in the passing of transphobic bills such as HB-2 in North Carolina, the senseless murders of trans women of color, and the bullying queer and trans teens continue to endure in schools across the country.

Time and time again, I've also see the queer and trans community respond with tremendous courage, strength, and pride. One of the things that makes gay bars like Pulse so sacred is their ability to provide a safe haven when the rest of the world simply isn't a safe place to live openly. So to have someone try to destroy us from the inside out because of hatred — because of homophobia, transphobia, and racism — feels shattering beyond what newspaper headlines can ever convey.

My heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one in the horrific attack, the 53 who were injured, and every queer and trans person whose sense of safety was shaken.

Still, I'm given hope by the incredible sense of togetherness in the queer and trans community that remains in the wake of this attack: the queer and trans people who fought to donate blood in Orlando despite an outdated ban on blood donations from gay men and trans women, the thousands who participated in vigils across the world and marched in Los Angeles's pride parade in solidarity, the queer and trans activists who called out the Islamophobic rhetoric that emerged from news coverage of the attack, and everyone's overwhelming concern for the safety and well-being of queer and trans friends and family members.

As I said earlier in this statement, in spite of homophobia and transphobia, I've time and time again seen the queer and trans community respond with tremendous courage, strength, and pride. No matter what those filled with hate would like to think about how what unfolded will impact our community, this will not break us. We are courageous, we are strong, and we are proud of who we are. Hate will not break our love for ourselves, and just as importantly, our love for each other.

In love and solidarity,

Amelia Roskin-Frazee