Jun 6, 2011

Darkness Too Visible

In a recent article in the WSJ, one Meghan Cox Gurdon bewails the darkness altogether too visible in teen literature--the notion that teenagers might read about such things as abuse, rape, beatings, etc. sends her into a regular fit of pearl-clutching about "purity vs. despoliation, virtue vs. smut."

The notion that they experience such things does not.

Running through the 'shocking' list of behaviors depicted in her young adult novels, I was struck, as someone who has spent the better part of the last seven years working with children, that there was not a single item on that list that hadn't happened to a teenager that I knew.

Not.  Fucking.  One.

But apparently keeping teenagers from reading about such things is, "In the parenting trade ... "judgment" or "taste.""

In abuse, in evil, silence is the most powerful weapon of the oppressors against the oppressed.  Silence, isolation, invisibility--such are the tools with which the abusers subjugate the abused.  Silence is isolation, isolation is weakness; it is invisibility, and invisibility is worthlessness.  By dealing frankly with issues that actual teenagers that I know have dealt with, and that I myself have dealt with as a teenager, titles like the ones she mentioned strike a blow against that silence and isolation.  They take power away from the ones with power, and give it to the ones without.

Breaking that silence she refers to as 'pushing the envelope' and 'depravity'.  "Ever more appalling offerings" "try[ing] to bulldoze coarseness or misery into ... children's lives."  Those who would enforce that silence she encourages to not be "daunted".

And that's the conservative line.  Why can't the gays just stay in the closet?  Why do the Muslisms get to build churches?  Why can't the minorities remain invisible?  Why do the powerless deserve any recognition alongside us, the powerful?  If only we just agreed not to talk about abuse, rape, and drugs, then everything would be fine!

As long as teenagers are the victims of such things, then teenagers need to hear about them.  Silence does nothing except empower the abusers and isolate the oppressed.

"Darkness Too Visible", the article was entitled, and rightly so--the author rambles on for paragraph after indignant paragraph of pearl-clutching, self-righteous tedium on the visibility of darkness, and wastes nary a breath nor thought on its existence.  That actual teenagers I know have actually experienced in the very real world every goddam fucking thing she mentions--and therefore need to read about them and talk about them--enters into her brain not for a moment.

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