I’ve been called narrow minded for this series, but that’s what happens when you suggest *gasp* sex isn’t always a good idea. In truth, my saying we need less sex in YA has about as much to do with slut shaming as Starbucks’ treeless holiday cups have to do with persecuting Christians.
So here we go…
I wasn’t going to write this third installment, but I feel like some things need clarification before we move on. For starters, I’m not big on telling people what to do with their lives. I’m really not. However, there is a big difference between saying the world doesn’t end if a young person decides to cross that line and blatantly enforcing the idea that teens need to undergo sexual discovery.
For about 200-300 years, Western culture has embraced the idea of sexually repressing people, particularly women. This led to a lot of “you’re going to hell” and “good girls don’t want sex” crap. It resulted in a lot of puritanical ideals, especially in religious circles, because people really suck at this whole moderation thing.
Over the past century, we’ve started along the sexual/women’s liberation road, but it is just that—a road—and you can veer off either side. (Remember what I said about people sucking at moderation?) When I’m reading a NYT bestseller in the lower Young Adult genre with two 14-year-olds getting it on, I start to get worried.
The dose makes the poison.
There’s a time and a place for everything. We’ve all heard that too much of anything is bad, but the thought bears repeating. As someone who read YA through high school, I can tell you that those books (with scant exception) definitely show that only weirdos and basement dwellers aren’t going all the way by the end of the book/series. YA is full of protagonists getting mocked for their sexual ignorance and the solution to this is inevitably sexual activity. Sex is no longer something people are just shown to want, it is something they had better want.
In (hopefully) tidy conclusion:
I have known too many wonderful people who felt inferior for not being in relationships or stayed in bad ones and due to the idea of the quintessential significant other and sex life that our Western culture encourages. Yes, books make up a small part (unfortunately) of the media we young people are exposed to, but they remain a part of it nonetheless.
(Also, this is a book blog and it would be kind of dumb for me to start wailing at the music industry.)
Whatever the case, your sex life does not determine your self worth either way. But going back to the points I brought up in Part II, I have never met an adult who told me they wished they’d dated more in high school/college. Not one.