Monday, January 7, 2013
SEX: A slippery slope
I haven't ranted in a while. But if you've been following along for a while, you might remember that occasionally, I see something so stupid that I have to vent. I'm sure we all remember THIS POST
Anyways. Today, I was taking a break from writing, when I saw a link on Twitter about New Adult.
I truly think NA should be a category unto itself. I hate to pull argument from authority here, but as a librarian, I recommend the shit out of books on a daily basis. And it's blatantly obvious to me, that NA is needed, and indeed already sort of exists. Patrons want more of that age group's experiences.
And I recommend books that fit NA all the time.
But what pisses me off, is people are starting to equate NA as YA with graphic sex. And sorry to let you down, but that's just not what it is.
Sure, in some of the NA books I've read there has been sex. Some of it graphic. You know what other books have sex? Young Adult. Oh, and Adult.
You know what books DON'T have sex? Young Adult. Oh, and Adult.
Because, you see, not all Adult category books have sex! Not all have graphic sex. And to act like every book in a category is the same is just ignorant bullshit.
I write New Adult. I have manuscripts with graphic sex, and some with none. It's about what's authentic for the characters in that story. It's what feels right for the manuscript overall.
Here's a link to the article that contains the comment section that spurned this ranty post. Go read the comments. I'll wait.
Back? Good. In case you cheated, I've posted some of the comments here to showcase my arguments.
"More smut aimed at programming our children's minds, encouraging them to become promiscuous adults before their time"
This is the type of response of a person who blames rock music when something bad happens. 'If it wasn't for that damned rock and roll teaching our kids it's okay to do drugs and have promiscuous sex...'
If your TEENAGER is SO impressionable that merely reading a novel with sex in it influences them to run out and emulate it - you've done something wrong as a parent.
"Ah, chick smut. Erotica is what people write when they want to be a writer but aren't good enough for the job. Add Twilight and Harry Potter to that and BAM horrible writing. This is the reason why I only read non-fiction and technical books. Thanks, crappy authors."
No. Thank YOU for parading your ignorance all over the internet. You freely admit you only read non-fiction and technical books, yet you feel qualified to label ALL New Adult as 'Chick Smut,' and paint all Erotica writers as talentless hacks. This, boys and girls, is what we call a "self-Pwn."
"I wish they would just label the books. Not all teenagers have sex and use the F word on a regular basis and it's always great when I can find an author that writes smart, intelligent books without that in it. I can't tell you how many I take back to the library because they are offensive. It's a lazy author who has to sell sex to sell a book."
We do label the books. Fiction. Non-fiction. Then by category. Adult/ YA/ Juvenile. We're trying to add a new category - New Adult. Then by genre. It would be a logistical nightmare to label books further - 'Contains swearing, but no sex.' 'Contains sex, but no swearing,' 'No sex, but someone makes it to second base, and someone else says, 'Shit.''
See how ridiculous it would get if we labeled every potential trigger, or thing that someone might find offensive? You bring back "offensive" books - fine. But what's offensive to you isn't offensive to everyone. That's the FABULOUS thing about books - there is something for everyone. But just because YOU don't like something, doesn't make it bad. Just because an author chooses certain words or content doesn't make them lazy. It's a choice. It's their voice. If you don't like that style, choose another. Get recommendations from a friend for some "safe" words for yourself.
You know what offends me? Censorship. Bigotry. Racism. Gender inequality. Not a swear word in a book. Do you get JUST as outraged when you see injustice to gay rights? To the continual subjugation of women in modern society? Do you rear back in outrage when you come across a book with any kind of violence in it?
Because I'm more offended at something unnatural (violence) than something natural and healthy (consensual sex between willing of-age partners).
Some people find interracial couples offensive. Some people find LGBTQ relationships offensive. I call these people IGNORANT ASSHOLES, who society will look back on as cowardly bigoted morons.
But I digress.
The main thing I disagree with in the comments section is the rather histrionic attitude that their kids are going to read about sex, and turn into wildly promiscuous little shits, their innocence torn from their child-like grasps before their time.
And I have a few issues with this.
1. Promiscuous? So, we're back to the slut-shaming? It's baffling to me that in 2013 we're still hearing things like this. We teach our daughters that they are strong, and independent, and liberated, oh, but don't have a lot of sex, because that somehow decreases your moral value, and makes you a bad person. Oh, don't enjoy your body, and rejoice your sexuality in a monogamous, consensual way - that's icky and wrong. WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBOURS THINK?! Fuck you. Go back to the forties and clutch your pearls.
2. Virginity =/= Innocence. If you think it does, you've never met a child who grew up without enough to eat, who saw a parent die in front of them. Who was beaten and taught that stealing was okay. I've met plenty of those children. Six and seven year old virgins who have seen far too much in their short years. Old, weary eyes in their tiny faces. Virginity is just that - not having had sex. Innocence is a world view - a state of mind. We've all met seniors, and strangers who aren't virgins who are fresh as the day is long. They are pure, and delightful people who don't always see that dirty joke coming. Who cry at silly commercials and are beautifully tender-hearted. Virginity has NOTHING to do with it. I'm looking at you Summer and you Jessa
3. Impressionability/ Sheltered children. It's FINE to want to protect your child from things you think may harm them. It's natural, and beautiful to want to keep them safe.
But you can't protect them from growing up. And in order for them to be successful, they need your honesty, and the benefit of your wisdom. Don't bubble wrap them with ignorance, hoping to protect them from the world. Arm them with healthy curiosity, tempered with critical thinking! Teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
If you're not there to tell them the right answer, how will they know if someone is lying to them? If you're not there with the information they are hearing at school, on the bus, at a school dance, at the mall, then how will they know that their peers are full of shit?
Arm them with information! With facts! Telling your teenage daughter not to have sex with boys because 'No one will want to buy the cow if you give the milk away for free,' is NOT a deterrent. Being VERY real and honest and saying, 'Yes, sex feels good, but here are the ramifications of having sex,' IS. Teaching your kids about sex. Demystify it. STD's are very real. Teenage pregnancy is very real.
YOU know your teenager is only screaming at you because of their hormone riddled brains.
But their feelings are VERY REAL. You need to teach them to make smart choices for themselves. If you teach your sons and daughters to be ashamed of their bodies, and that their feelings aren't real - they will find someone who validates their beliefs... and someone who makes them feel good about themselves. That isn't a healthy way to go about it.
You will NOT always be there to protect your baby. So you need to instill in them morals, and values, and the ability to make healthy decisions for themselves when they are alone, and grown.
4. Stop blaming books/ movies/ music/ video games as the reason the world's gone to hell in a hand basket. Here's a shock - THERE WERE NO GOOD OLD DAYS! The world was always this fucked up, we just didn't have the media and internet to show us exactly what we were all up to. Again - if you've taught your kid the difference between fantasy and reality, then it's not a big deal for them to watch a movie, or let them play a video game. They're not going to snap and lose it and perpetrate a crime because of the game/ book/movie.
If you think they are, then maybe you need to read a book about critical thinking.
5. 'It's a slippery slope. Let them read about sex, and they're going to want to DO IT!'
Newsflash dumb ass - THEY'RE ALREADY DOING IT! And if they're not doing it now, they're trying to figure out how they CAN!
Not everyone who reads mysteries wants to rush out and solve OR perpetrate crimes! Not everyone who watches a cooking show wants to be a chef! STOP USING THIS SLIPPERY SLOPE ARGUMENT! You're only making yourself look like a hysterical dumb ass.
6. And this goes back to a few I've already listed. but if you're worried about your child learning about sex from a book - you are REALLY late in having The Talk with them.
I grew up on a farm. I NEVER had that awkward sex talk with my parents. I never grew up thinking sex was shameful, or dirty, or something to be glorified. It was a natural part of life. Horses did it. It led to babies. If I had further questions, I'd ask my parents. but it was never a big deal.
And being around promiscuous peers didn't change MY mind about sex.
I was a virgin until after I graduated from High School, and moved out of my parents' house.
I drank. I did drugs. I had peers who had multiple sexual partners. I was attracted to people. I was attractive to people. But I was a virgin until I decided I was ready to have sex. It wasn't peer pressure, or evil rock and roll, or smutty books (and boy did I ever read the shit out of those!) that made me decide when I was ready.
So, no. New Adult isn't just YA with more graphic sex. And people are going to try to vilify it as such. And when they do - just remember this post, and tell them exactly why they are wrong.
Safe, consensual OF AGE sex is not bad - in real life, or in fiction. And if it is - you're doing it wrong. ;)