Up Close and (un)Conventional – Let’s Talk About Sex
Welcome to this week’s Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This week, I’m back to talking about sex once more. My inspiration came from Kristin @ Metaphors and Moonlight’s post a couple of weeks ago, where she talks about age and when 50 Shades of Grey is appropriate. I have written about Sex in YA before, but it’s been a while, so here we go.
I think that a lot of people have things they don’t want to read about, and then, when becoming more mature, that can change. And you all know I don’t mind reading about sex in my stories, too. I really do want there to be an actual story, though, not just sex for the sake of sex, or shock value. There are many books that involve things that aren’t part of my lifestyle, but what better way to walk a few miles in someone else’s shoes than reading about things we might never experience in the real world?
When it comes to younger people and whether they should be able to read about sex, I think there’s a very big difference between Europe and the US. First of all, it’s legal to have sex at 16, so there is no problem to read about teens having sex with each other. Also, in senior high school (15-19 years), a lot of the language classes also use novels for teaching purposes. And especially in French novels, there is some talk about sex in one way or another, and the students need to analyse different parts of the text, where a metaphor for sex can be used. Or sex can be used as a metaphor for something else entirely, too. So I think that having to be observant, and read with a critical eye can be good, especially if the sex that is a part of a novel can spur discussions about what is OK and not, gender roles, the importance of communication, of practicing safe sex etc. But I’m sure you can all imagine that all this can be quite embarrassing for the kids to talk about with their teacher, right?
So, I guess, all this is to say that I think it’s important that books do talk about sex, or have characters that talk about sex, or have sex… you get my gist? However, not all books need to have anything to do with sex or romance at all – there are many other aspects of life that can be explored as well. And I really think that there isn’t a perfect age for reading about sex – we are all different, after all. However, I do think it’s great to use novels as conversation starters – so it’s important that if teen readers are uncomfortable with something they’ve read, they have someone they can talk to about it.
What do you think about sex in your books? Have you been up close with a scene that made you feel bad when you were younger? Do you think YA books should be ‘clean’ so as to not corrupt the young?