If you would like to contact Brooke for booking or press inquiries, she can be reached through email at brookeashleya [at] gmail.com.



  1. Mambocat says:

    Dear Ms. Arnold: I cannot thank you enough for writing about sexual abuse in conservative and fundamentalist faiths. My own torture was Roman Catholicism. And my own definition of the term “sexual abuse” expands to include parental obsessiveness and iron-fist control (instead of guidance) over a pubescent child or teen’s developing sexuality. As a child and young teen, I had the clear, but never fully spoken, message that my sexuality belonged to my parents, that my sexuality and virginity were valuable real estate to them (and perhaps also to God), and that my sexuality would later be the property of my husband, but that it would never, ever, fully belong to me,and me alone. It may not have been rape, sodomy, fingering or oral sex on demand, but the demeaning inspection of my used underwear, the motherly counting of pads, both used and unused (never tampons, which might compromise the priceless hymen), the marking of my period days in huge, red X’s on the family calendar for all to see (my mother, on the other hand, discreetly circled the date on her own period days in black ink or pencil in the calendar in my parents’ bedroom), the horrid quizzing if my period was a few days late or otherwise off schedule (as all teen girls experience while their bodies adjust to their cycles), not being allowed to date until I was seventeen and then only for proms and special occasions under close curfews, the deeply personal debriefing after each date… this is a form of abuse of its own, a form of psychological torture. Never being fully told about the sex act by parents (I learned that about 20% from a highly limited health class in Catholic school, 30% from friends and the rest in the back seat of a Chevy with, thankfully, a gentle high-school musician also poisoned and confused by Catholicism). Never, EVER being allowed a sexual coping mechanism (being told that I would NOT go to hell if I masturbated would have gone a LONG way as a teen), but instead, never being allowed to close or lock my bedroom door because I might be “up to something” (I was allowed to close, but not lock, the bathroom door, for bathing and dressing). As a teen, not being allowed to wear a modest hiphugger bikini in 1975, which fully covered my butt and boobs and which barely revealed my bellybutton (my dad allowed that, seeing that I would stand out like a sore thumb among other kids in a full-coverage suit). Not being allowed to wear a tank top. Being forced to wear a thick nylon slip with any dress, regardless of the brutal summer heat of New Orleans, lest the sunlight at certain angles reveal the fact that indeed, I did have legs like a normal human. At the same time, being compelled to wear “ladylike makeup” in pinks and other soft tones so that I was neither mistaken for a “no-makeup lesbian” nor a boldly made up “loose woman.” Not being allowed to choose a bra that matched my skin tone — I had to wear a white bra. Bright white, not only the sign of virginity, but intended to show slightly through my white school uniform shirt to indicate that indeed I was wearing a bra and therefore, NOT a “loose woman.” My mother was the product of this same upbringing, but she was a meek child and eager to please both nuns and parents; thankfully I was rebellious and strong enough to break away from that the very moment that I could. I still recall the feeling of intense empowerment walking into Planned Parenthood at 17 and getting on the Pill because I had secretly planned to go “all the way” with my boyfriend and had no intention of getting pregnant. But I worry for my mother because she was NOT a brave and rebellious child, teen or young adult. A virgin at marriage in a crushingly Catholic household, I sometimes wonder if she ever had an orgasm, even though I hope so, as my father was a gentle and loving man with her. I wonder if she was sexually abused as a child, by family, nuns, or priests, and terrified into never telling. Mom had bought hook, line and sinker that a female’s body belongs to everyone BUT the female. I will never know. I only hope she avoided a worse fate than questions, grilling, shame, humiliation on the calendar, and unrelenting supervision of the most innocent behaviors. Again, thank you for writing so boldly on this subject. It needs to be discussed.

  2. Mambocat says:

    I meant to say, my Dad FINALLY allowed the modest bikini so I would not stick out like a sore thumb, but my mother was horrified.

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