I am absolutely thrilled to have the wonderful Courtney Summers stop by the blog for Sex in Teen Lit Month II today! Courtney has been super busy lately, so we're really lucky she agreed to a short interview to discuss rape culture and All the Rage.
All the Rage is such a hard-hitting and emotional. What prompted you to write it?
Sometimes I write about things that make me angry as a way of processing them and rape culture makes me furious. I wanted to explore how dangerous it is and how devastating the consequences of it are.
We normally think of sex as a loving and/or fun thing. Can you tell us what it's like for Romy after she’s raped, not only having been so violated, but also having her whole community turn against her, to call her a liar?
Romy’s way of coping with her trauma is to separate herself from it. She thinks of her rape as something that happened to an entirely different girl, just to keep her head above the water. When her reality gets too close, she panics. To re-centre herself, she has a ritual of painting her nails and lips red and thinks of it as armour. Her community has failed her so dramatically, she is only able to process what she’s gone through in pieces, if at all.
How does rape culture and victim blaming make Romy feel about sex and her own sexuality?
“I wish I didn’t have a body,” is something of a mantra for Romy throughout the book, and I think that speaks to the devastation she’s experienced and the lack of ownership and control over her own body it has left her with.
What research did you do for All the Rage? Was there anything that surprised you?
I did a lot of research about rape culture for All the Rage. I read extensively about trauma, PTSD, rape cases, rape culture and the justice system. It was often overwhelming and difficult to read about. Nothing surprised me per se, but I was continually disheartened to read articles about rape cases and get to their comments section, where commenters would express disinterest and disbelief about and cruelty toward victims and survivors of sexual violence. How do we get to that point of not caring? It’s horrible and it’s heartbreaking.
What do you hope readers get from All the Rage?
I hope it makes them angry about rape culture. I hope it inspires them to speak out against it and to advocate for victims and survivors.
What do you think about how teen fiction deals with sex, generally? And sex crimes in particular?
I think there’s a lot of incredible, feminist YA fiction out there now that explores the topics of sex and sexual violence conscientiously and realistically. I think when you’re writing about these kind of subjects, you want to make sure that what you’re writing contributes to a larger conversation and doesn’t undermine it or do harm to it. I think teen fiction tends to explore these kinds of stories with the care and respect they deserve and I’m glad for that.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for having me on your blog!
Thank you, Courtney, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions! Check out my review of All the Rage, which comes out in the UK on 28th January 2016!