Last week we talked about all the sex in YA and how I think it’s horrible and all that. Now let’s talk about why.
Nobody seems to bring this up…
Regardless of whether or not high school students should be having sex, whether or not people should embrace/explore their sexuality or what have you, no Young Adult book I’ve read accurately portrays how much young people give up for these early relationships. Boys and girls both.
Even when there wasn’t sex involved, I cannot tell you how many people I have watched sacrifice and compromise their own dreams for the sake of a boy/girlfriend. So many times, I have wanted to scream “he/she’s not worth it!” when people I cared about quit the sport they loved, ended friendships, turned down the chance to get paid to travel, or changed their college plans for the sake of the (invariably ungrateful) person they were dating.
It has never once turned out well and those I’ve talked to have always ended up regretting those lost opportunities. Not even sex in the cases where it applied, just what it caused them to miss.
The unpopular opinion that might get me strung up.
We need better story lines in YA than this “cure the virgins” fad. Yes, yes, it’s true that sex is considered a part of the “coming of age” story that YA often follows and I know sex sells, but it wouldn’t kill anyone to write with more restraint, for lack of a better word. The target audience of YA are mostly still forming our opinions and beliefs about the world. We often don’t even know who we are until college or later and the things we read, watch, and hear influence us sometimes more than we realize.
Books, like any other form of art, shape tour perspective and too many YA books today are shaping my generation’s perspective on sex into something ugly. It’s not about shaming those who have had sex or choose to write about it, let me make that clear. The point is that publishing, like Hollywood and the music industry, are telling us that sex is free of consequences and fun and everyone should be doing it. Also, everyone wants to do it and if you don’t you are either lying or haven’t found the right partner.
But it’s okay to not have sex and there’s a hell of a lot more to it than I’ve seen in the media. YA authors need to stop and do a bit more research. Screwing around, especially during that phase, can quite easily ruin your life, especially if you let it divert you from what you should be focused on. People in the YA age range have a lot of things to learn and discover and romance is just one tiny piece of that huge puzzle. There’s your morality, what is important to you, what work makes you passionate, figuring out what you want to pursue in college, if you even want to go to college…LOTS OF THINGS BESIDES SEX, OKAY?
And then there are the stories about how the protagonist realizes that relationships aren’t all that necessary at his/her lifestage and moves on. But seriously, I can think of a grand total of ONE book where they didn’t have to have sex before the protagonist figured it out.
Apparently, writers and publishers think young adults just aren’t smart enough to recognize trouble before screwing it.
To be continued in Part III.