Does This Read Like Erotica to You?

Included below is the rape scene excerpt from the story that Amazon classified as Erotica after I published it with a Content Warning. I’m only including it here now so people can see how deeply disturbed I am that Amazon would do this and how doing so perpetuates the myth that women enjoy being raped and that we consider it erotic. (To find out more about this issue see the article here: https://goo.gl/leM9JK)
If you read the excerpt below and are as outraged as I am, please help me by spreading the word. Share the petition (https://goo.gl/movnW) and this excerpt to help me show people exactly what is happening. I know a great many of you have already done this and you should know I appreciate it tremendously. Thank you. But please help me as I continue to fight, we cannot stop until they change their policies completely.
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Rape Scene Excerpt from “The Price”
“The memory of the blood soaked paper towels torment me in my quieter hours. I can still see the tears sliding down her cheek and onto the rough white surface as she folded it into a tight rectangle and slipped it between her thighs to keep the blood from leaking onto her cheerfully bright panties.
In the midst of her pain she had summoned me. I could feel her need pulling at me with such raw force that I was jerked away from the house and found myself in the room with her. For a moment I could feel the house trying to yank me back, but I held onto my connection with Shana, and focused everything I had on that moment, on that room. I watched as he brutalized her, trapped in my ghost state, unable to do anything but flail at his back with my invisible hands. I tried to pry him off of her, but my fingers simply fell through his flesh.
Although I could not bear to leave her, I knew I had to if I were going to try to get help.”

Why I am Raising a Feminist

Why I am Raising a Feminist

For a long time I didn’t think of myself as a feminist. I didn’t really think of myself as having labels. I knew I was stronger than most men I had been around. I was bigger. I was more assertive and outspoken than most women. Even though I never changed my name when I got married it never occurred to me that I was a feminist. I just knew what I wanted and I wasn’t afraid to speak up for it. I didn’t know that doing these things made me different or exceptional.

I had strong female role models. My mom always worked and her job was just as important in the family as my father’s. They were both professionals and I never heard my father talk down about my mom working or try to convince her that her place was at home. She was his equal. I had my aunts: crazy, funny, insanely protective and fierce women who taught me that you could be both sexual and strong. One was not mutually exclusive of the other.

So at a young age I knew I could be just as smart and just as important as any man and that I could be strong and sure of my body and in command of my sex life. These revelations didn’t just magically come to me, but they were ingrained deep enough that by the end of my teenage years I was a mold that had been firmly set.

That truth has not always been passed on to women. Even as direct and assertive as I am I cannot say that I’ve never been touched inappropriately or that no man has ever groped me. It would be a lie.

That is why even now I’ve had to talk to my daughter about permissions, about body control, about good and bad touches. I’ve had to explain to her that she keeps no secrets from mommy and that no one is allowed to touch her in a bad way. She has to know that if she tells me something important that I will listen and I will believe her. I will not tell her that boys will be boys or that is just how things are. I will not ask her if she is sure that it was a bad touch. She knows the difference by now and it is my job as her mother to listen and respect her.

I’ve had to constantly tell her that she is strong and smart and that she can do anything she wants. I hold my tongue when I want to caution her because I know that she will learn the most through trial and error and she is not fragile simply because she is a girl. I encourage her love of dinosaurs and outer space just as much as I have tea parties and watch her care for her furry babies. I know that both of these diverse interests will help her live a full life.

As the news about sexual assault and groping broke there were a torrent of women who started to share their stories of being assaulted by men in their lives. I know that my main goal as her mother is to make sure that she knows when she decides to have sex it is something that needs to be up to her. It is my hope that she will not feel pressured because the other person is stronger or richer or more popular or because she thinks she owes them something. If anyone touches her without permission she has to fight back. Like a wild, caged, vicious animal she should fight.

She should know that her mother worked to dismantle the system, that I spent my days encouraging her to think for herself and to question authority and to fight for what she knew in her heart to be right because those were skills she would need her entire life. I want her to never be afraid to be assertive because she might be seen as a bitch. I want her to love herself no matter what because having self-esteem and self worth is the best way to make sure that you don’t ever do anything you aren’t comfortable with.

Most importantly, I’m raising a feminist because I know no other way to be. The truth I denied for many years is that I have always been a feminist. I have always fought for equality and I have never thought or considered myself to be less than a man or defined my value on the kind of man I could attract.

My hope is that she spreads this truth among her friends like fire, that they see her strength and compassion and hope and love and know that feminism isn’t a bad word. It isn’t the scary villain out to smash your worldview.

No, feminism is my grandmother going back to college after she had raised her family because it was something she always wanted to do. It is my mother working in the sciences in a time when there were hardly any women in the field. It is my father telling me I am just as capable as any boy. It is my aunt point blank stating that I don’t have to laugh at shitty jokes just because a man tells them. It is my husband cooking every night because I am crap in the kitchen. It is every woman who ever felt like there was more to life than the role she’d been assigned and tried to do more. It is every man who respects women’s rights to body autonomy and equality. It is what we should strive for every single day.

Open Letter to Jeff Bezos Concerning Rape Culture on Amazon

Jeff,

I recently tried to publish my story on Amazon. I have other books and stories on there and have never had a problem. However, this horror story was put into the erotic category. I can only assume that it was because I put a content/trigger warning on the story about a non-graphic rape of a 13 year old girl. I called and talked to someone to explain that I was uncomfortable with the idea of a 13 year old being raped and having to endure the demons that come with that being put into the “erotic” category. The part of the story deals with her friend trying to save her and then being forced to comfort her afterward and how that changes their relationship. However, I was informed that there was NOTHING I could do to have the book placed in an appropriate category. Once it was labeled as “Erotica” it had to stay there.

Since I am DEEPLY uncomfortable with the idea of someone calling that scenario erotic and continuing the disturbing trend of “rape culture” in America I unpublished the book. I seriously think Amazon.com needs to reevaluate what constitutes being placed into the erotic section. You are doing nothing but feeding into the idea that women and young girls enjoy being raped and that it is considered sexual. One in four women have been the victim of rape or molestation. We need to be able to have books and stories that deal with this in a serious manner without being inappropriately labeled (sexualized/fetishized).
I also have to wonder if this would have happened to a larger publishing house. If someone had contacted me and asked about the content warning I would have explained. We could have had a conversation and tried to work this out. Instead I only found out when I checked the Amazon page to see how everything looked before launch. I am all around disgusted by this.

Your company needs to change its policies and the way it deals with the labeling of erotica material immediately. The longer this goes on, the harder it is for the 25% of women who are victims to find closure and move on in their lives. If someone in your department considers the discussion of a 13 year old enduring a rape to be erotic material then that indicates a problem on your company’s part that needs to be rectified.

Kristi Brooks