Guest Blog series part 3 of 3
This week I wanted to take my blog post in a different direction than the last two have gone and talk about everyone’s favorite subject, sex. I say it’s everyone’s favorite subject, because sex and sexuality is ubiquitous in U.S. culture, and there is no escaping its grasp. I’d also go so far as to say that just about everyone of age has an opinion on, or feelings about sex. Well, here’s mine…
I’ve been reading YA fiction since I was in elementary school, and graduated to adult books when I was in early high school. But then, as I grew older, I moved back down into YA because I noticed that a lot of the author’s of ‘regular’ fiction were overly sexual in their books. I’m all for characters getting together and expressing feelings through sex, or even an occasional romp for fun with an otherwise unknown partner. But when the books became descriptions of one sex scene after another, with little else taking place, I got to the point where I was tired of reading.
Moving into YA fiction again I found a wonderful world of literature that still dealt with real issues, even sex and sexuality, without falling into the trap of being overly sexual. That was years ago, and now as I read YA fiction, LGBTQ or otherwise, I’ve found that sex has taken center stage once more. There are books that are sex positive, which I appreciate, and books that warn about the dangers of unsafe practices, which are helpful. But there are also books that pour on the sexuality way too thick, and I find myself reading quickly or simply skimming to get to the end of that scene.
I’d like to point out here that I am definitely a sex positive person, and I am not blind to the fact that teens and young adults engage in sexual activity. I do not have a problem with it, but the detailed descriptions of it are, in my opinion, better left out of YA fiction. Not too long ago I read a post by a YA author who said his book was not allowed in school libraries because his book discussed sex. This is taking things too far, and I would never suggest limiting access to books based on sexual content, I just think it could be turned down a little bit in some cases.
It’s gotten to the point now that when I search “Teen Gay Fiction” or even “YA LGBT Fiction” in most online bookseller search bars I am bombarded by erotica. There’s nothing wrong with those books being out there, but I would love to see more options.
The funny thing about my opinion on sexuality is that it seems to maybe be in the minority. When I released my book, Awakened, I got a lot of feedback that my characters should have had sex, or that in the next book they needed to be more physical. One reader went so far as to tell me how to pair my teen protagonist with an early twenties character without having the teen’s love interest finding out. I’m not sure what will happen in my next book, but I do know that there won’t be gratuitous descriptions of sex between anyone. Maybe that makes me a romantic, or maybe just behind the trend that is moving through YA fiction. Whatever it makes me, I hope there will be a balance struck between plot and sex, where neither one is completely destroyed for the sake of the other.