Maggie, Why Do All Your Novels Deal with Sexual Assault?

A question you’re probably going to ask: Maggie, why do all your novels deal with sexual assault?

It’s true, Breaking Orbit, Teagan & Jake, and Oceans Away all grapple with sexual assault in some way. Breaking Orbit features several sexual assault survivors, and takes a more direct look at a celebrity using his power to coerce and sexually abuse his teenage fans. In Teagan & Jake, one of the characters is assaulted by his girlfriend. One of the protagonists in Oceans Away is a sexual assault survivor still grappling with the effects six years later.

The answer: Because sexual assault has affected loved ones, filled news headlines, and occurred in communities like YouTube.

Because I understood “rape” before I understood “consent.”

Because I still have 11 years before my risk of being sexually assaulted drops from 54% to 28%.

Because I do not want people to live lives dictated by fear.

Because so much of this issue is wrapped up in victim blaming and dumping the responsibility on the female (even though 10% of rape survivors are male).

Because a rapist’s father is more concerned that his son has lost his penchant for steak.

Because Sam Pepper and Alex Day still have fans and a space in the YouTube community.

Because a former Ohio mayor raped a 4-year-old girl and has the audacity to say she was a willing participant.

Because we’d rather blame clothes and alcohol than a person.

Because we prize athletic talent over an individual’s safety and respect.

Because even though RAINN reports that rape has dropped significantly, we can do better.

Because even though “rape culture” and several sexual assault cases have gained attention in the news, there is still misunderstanding and ignorance.

Because I am gutted by all these facts and regularly feel incredibly powerless. But I’ve learned that creativity is a weapon (“take this weapon / forged in darkness / some see a pen / I see a harpoon”), and that words are the venue which I can wrestle with the evils and uncertainties that plague me.

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