John Green, YA Authors, and Rape Culture

The fact of the matter is that John Green and all of the other authors who jumped down this girl's throat had all of the power. Adults always have the power -- that's often why it's so difficult to speak up when they aren't treating us correctly.
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Woman removing books from the shelf
Woman removing books from the shelf

John Green gets way more attention than the average young adult author. I'm not sure if it's because of the major success of The Fault in Our Stars and its film adaptation, his other books or his YouTube channel.

That means that a lot of different people are going to have different opinions on him. Like the girl who posted that she thought he was "creepy" on Tumblr recently.

Now, this has stirred up some major uproar. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on it.

First of all, I don't understand why everyone is so upset.

The exact post reads:

I bet John Green thinks people don't like him because he's a dork or a nerd or whatever, when in reality it's because he's a creep who panders to teenage girls so that he can amass some weird cult-like following. And it's always girls who feel misunderstood, you know, and he goes out of his way to make them feel important and desirable. Which is fucking weird. Also he has a social media presence that is equivalent to that dad of a kid in your friend group who always volunteers to 'supervise' the pool parties and scoots his lawn chair close to all the girls.

Okay. Awesome. She said her piece, right? And nowhere in that chunk of words did she accuse John Green of sexual assault.

But apparently, that's not how he took it.

In response, he said:

You want me to defend myself against the implication that I sexually abuse children? Okay. I do not sexually abuse children. Throwing that kind of accusation around is sick and libelous and most importantly damages the discourse around the actual sexual abuse of children. When you use accusations of pedophilia as a way of insulting people whose work you don't like, you trivialize abuse.

And I don't understand the disconnect at all.

People are saying that she stirred up trouble by even posting it in the first place, but lots of people use Tumblr as a place to sort through their thoughts. She didn't even tag him when she first posted her opinion. Someone else did.

Now, who would've even thought that John Green would look at this? There's this sort of "John Green Tumblr Game" where people tag John Green on a post because they're anxious to hear his thoughts. Of course, there are many posts that go without a comment from Mr. Green.

Why this one?

She was honestly just saying what she thought -- that a man older than her was creepy in her eyes. And people obviously agreed, because the post garnered reblogs before Green responded. How is calling him creepy translate into accusing him of sexual assault?

There are tons of people who I think are creepy. That guy who kept throwing things at Miles Teller's head in Whiplash, the creepy guy who sometimes stands outside when I walk past his house, and even some of my teachers at school. But that doesn't mean I think they're sexual abusers.

It almost feels like the famous authors defending John Green (from what, I don't know) didn't actually read the post. It's like they heard the news and rushed to declare how awesome he is.

Today seems like a really good day to say how much I like and respect John Green. Who writes great books. And also tries to help the planet.

— Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell) June 12, 2015

Really? It doesn't? So...the men twice my age who stare at my breasts instead of my face creep me out, but I suppose they aren't creepy because you said so. Am I supposed to just tolerate all of the older men in my life who make me uncomfortable? The men who have more power than me because they're older and more respected?

You've got all of these famous authors defending him -- Chuck Wendig and Maggie Stiefvater and Sarah Dessen -- but no one ever stopped to think about this girl. They chastised us about "forgetting the people behind the screen," but that's exactly what they did.

They forgot that there was a kid behind the screen -- a kid they just publically shamed for expressing herself.

They forgot that if she ends up in a situation with an actual predator and senses that something is off, she might not say anything. Why? Because she was taught, by a bunch of New York Times bestselling authors with so much more power and respect and voice than her, that her feelings don't matter. That John Green's reputation is more important than her thoughts.

What scares and angers me the most is that these are some of the most prolific authors who WRITE STORIES FOR TEENS. From the viewpoint of TEENS. How dare they ignore our voices one minute and mimic them in a book the next?

There's this thing called "victim blaming" that's very much tied up in rape culture. One aspect of this is when people blame victims of sexual assault for not saying anything "sooner." But why would they? If a girl garners this response while merely expressing her thoughts that an author is "creepy," what might happen if she were to report an assault?

The fact of the matter is that John Green and all of the other authors who jumped down this girl's throat had all of the power. Adults ALWAYS have the power -- that's often why it's so difficult to speak up when they aren't treating us correctly. I understand that he and his friends know that he's a lovely person and their gut instinct was to protect him, but did they stop to think that they crushed this girl's voice while screeching out with their own?

I don't want to make light of Ms. Stiefvater's situation, because sexual assault is extremely serious. But Maggie, I implore you to ponder this: Why must girls wait until after they are assaulted to feel uncomfortable?

Because THAT is the epitome of rape culture in our society.

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