Fault Line by Christa Desir
I’m telling you; there’s an uncanny theme in the YA air lately, about rape and the male response to it. About sex. About responsibility for all of it. It’s not just rolling around in my head.
Portrayals of guys in YA are tricky. The popular YA books present guys that quote poetry and are good-hearted who have no libidos or self-interest beyond their sticky-sweet pure LOVE.
This depiction is not only problematic for girls entering the game of love. It also demeans boys. As if they do not deserve a real portrayal. As if the ideal is some fussy romantical piano-serenading romance book cover model.
Yet, we know what happens when we present Real Boys to the world. With their real, complicated, paradoxical, inconsistent thinking. Real Boys who don’t understand girls. Who think shitty things about girls and their bodies. Who feel incapacitated by lust and paralyzed by expressing their emotions. Who are desperate to remain cool and appear easy and nonchalant despite everything that roils inside them.
This Real Boy? This boy who is dirty-minded and petty and inept and cannot save you? Apparently, we cannot accept that reality.
But it’s precisely for that reason that I love Christa Desir’s Ben.
He’s a nice kid; he’s a disaster.
He wants to fix Ani; he wants to fuck Ani.
He wants to control everything; he can’t take responsibility for anything.
He doesn’t know how to handle anything. He doesn’t know how to be a man. Because he’s not a man.
Let me repeat that: HE’S NOT A MAN.
And a lot of men aren’t “men,” either, when it comes to handling the issue of rape. As a concept or as a consequence for the women they care for. They might have a knee-jerk violent reaction about it. As if that helps.
Maybe that violent reaction – “I’d kick the shit out of anyone who ever did that to my wife/sister/mother/daughter!” – soothes the women around them. Maybe it’s justified, even. Maybe it’s needed? As a deterrent?
But it seems of the same piece of cloth that makes the fabric of our rape culture.
I don’t have a lot of answers. Rape culture makes me unspeakably angry sometimes, so much so that I have to talk about other shit. Have to drown myself in other things because I can’t stand the lot I’ve been dealt, as a female. As this lesser thing. This victim. Without power, physical or otherwise. Diminished and minimized and reduced and at the mercy of some bullshit I didn’t start. And I have a daughter, coming up in the same exact bullshit world, too.
But I think we have to talk about it. And Fault Line is a book that gets people talking about lots of things that are difficult to speak about.
I am so proud to count Christa as one of my friends. She is one brave woman. Kudos to Christa Desir for writing an unflinching and complicated book about people who aren’t tidy victims or perfect heroes. Real people, in other words.