After reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of The Sower, I understood why it was classified as an adult book rather than young-adult. Depicting post-apocalyptic America in 2024, the book features violent and disturbing recollections.
Specifically, I noted rape had a daunting presence in the book. Through multiple rape scenes, Butler bluntly projects that in a post-apocalyptic nation without civility, police, or law, most men would turn into rapists. While a rather concerning notion to be projecting, this was something I had never experienced in a book before.
Moreover, I started thinking about all the various dystopian young-adult novels or movies I have watched, and how rape is never shown, discussed or even implied. Think about some of the most popular young-adult series, The Hunger Games or Divergent. Both of these dystopian worlds are destroyed by an excess of order. The government and police are maliciously oppressive, corrupt, violent, and murderous, but rape is never a thing.
It seems the whole notion of sex and more specifically sexual violence is a sort of unspoken restricted zone of young-adult media. Perhaps this is because parents will not condone their children reading such stories, although with the internet you begin to wonder if censoring your children is either possible or constructive.
To me, young-adult media seems like a sexual education platform that is being vastly underutilized. While Butler’s novel is probably too intense and gruesome to be read by most high school teens, she outlines a clear divide between rape and consensual sex.
After all, silencing and ignoring rape culture does not make it go away.
Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993. Print.