Monday, March 24, 2008

Teens creating "adult" content

I have been wondering about teens who write fanfiction and more specifically whether teens write stories that are rated "mature" for sexual content. This interest stems from my overall interest in how the internet impacts sexuality and sexual development and also from the fact that when I was young I was an avid fan of several TV shows (and starstuck by the leads) that were popular back then. I can't help but wonder how large a role fandom would have played in my life had Television Without Pity existed when I was a kid.

From a research standpoint I have taken a very strategic approach to this question through triangulation. I study the impact of the internet on teen sexuality while also investigating adult-authored erotic fanfiction. Eventually, I tell myself, it will be "safe" to actually take a systematic look at how teens use fanfiction to express their sexuality -- or at the very least write about sex. But today I simply decided to take a little sneak peek to answer the simple question: Do teens write sexually explicit material and publish it online?

Answer: Of course they do.

In about 15 minutes of exploring a popular fanfiction site, I read one story about Draco giving Harry a blow job and another featuring two characters on the OC having wild sex after a party (red lingerie included). Both stories were allegedly written by 17-year-old women (pictures and "about me" statements included in their bios help validate their claims).

So, what to make of this? Not sure. Should we cringe at the very idea that teens are writing stories that they are banned from purchasing? Or should we celebrate the fact that they are expressing themselves sexually in a relatively safe environment? I mean, you can't get pregnant or an STD from writing sexy stories now, can you? And at least they are not sending naked pictures of themselves, a crime with potentially serious consequences.

It will be a long while before anyone really pays attention to this phenomenon. But when they do, you can bet adults will be upset. Adults are always upset when they hear stories about teens expressing their sexuality -- never mind their sexual desire. And writing fanfiction is all about desire. I just hope that when people realize this is going on, that there are many worse things out there that can actually cause harm.


Anonymous said...

I can tell you from being an avid reader of fanfiction that there are many teenagers who read and write erotic fiction. It can be a bit of a shock to find out that the author of the fic you just read is still in high school. Most groups who come together to share fiction make an effort to label their content when it could be considered mature and post age guidelines to enter the site. I personally believe that if a person is old enough to write/conceptualize the material, then it should be their decision whether or not to read the material. This of course goes against some laws and a lot of moral restrictions imposed by certain groups. While I'm willing to obey the laws of my government, I do feel that the social issues that are exacerbated by the banning of sexuality are negatively effecting us as a community and need to be re-examined.

Touching on another facet of the legal issue, there's been a lot of 'to do' about public blogging sites banning story content with underage fictional characters. I believe it's a sore point with those who want to ban it because it's assumed that the writer is over the age of majority and this conjures a fear of pedophilia [personally I think there's a tendency to write about teenagers because youth is glamorized in our culture and writers want to feel what it was like to be that age again]. I wonder though: what of fifteen year-olds who write about fictional fifteen year-olds for the reading pleasure of other fifteen year-olds? As stated previously, I feel that should a person be inclined and can grasp the material, it should be available to them. If the writers, characters and readers are in the same age group, can there truly be anything illegal about it? Given the amount of time it takes to write a *good* piece of fiction, it should certainly keep them out of trouble for a while. It will also improve their writing skills and their ability to express their thoughts and ideas to others, an important skill for maintaining future relationships.

Dr. Kris said...

You raise a really interesting point. I didn't really think of the implications of writing an erotic fanfic about an underage character. Is that considered kiddie porn? Strange to think. The fanfic I enjoy features adult characters -- I only read some Harry Potter and some based of The OC for this piece!

Thanks for the insight!!