Friday, July 29, 2011

Readin', Writin', and...Sex?

Nice article in Salon challenging the "alarmist" findings that over half of young adult novels have sexually explicit content in them -- which ranges from Rated G kissing to sexual intercourse. And, according to Salon columnist Tracy Clark-Flory, the study authors seem to find this problematic (note: I was not able to locate the study or even the abstract, so I am commenting on something through hearsay in this post).

I can only scratch my head in wonder over their concerns. Let's see, what was I reading when I was a young adult? Oh yeah. There was the 1975 classic Forever, by Judy Blume, which told the story of a teen losing her virginity. Tame stuff. Then there were the VC Andrews books that made the rounds in my school -- these lovely tales featured sexual exploration among siblings locked in an attic. Finally, there were Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, telling sexual tales of all sorts, including a relationship between two vampires -- one of whom was embodied in a 8-year-old girl. While I admittedly have not read many of the young adult novels that are reviewed for this recent study, I cannot imagine the current sexual exploits are more fringe than the ones I read growing up. But correct me if I'm wrong.

And let's not forget what teens are writing themselves. I wrote this post  sometime back about youth-authored fanfiction. If we shield teens from sexual content, then they are going to just make their own. Or find it somewhere else. So, let's not be too concerned when a young person buries their nose in a book. At least their vocabulary might increase.


Anonymous said...

Anne Rice should not be considered just another author of teen novels. I consider myself (an older man) well versed in the classics and certainly not drawn to vampire books. While "vampires" is a large empty genre, "Interview With The Vampire" by Anne Rice is, in my view, a seriously good book for adults but completely inappropriate for anyone under 18. So the question gets down to keeping kids away from interesting adult material.

Dr. Kris said...

I agree that it is a good idea to keep adult material away from youth. However, I personally read Anne Rice's works when I was under 18, and I know many others do. It's a challenge to not only determine what is appropriate content for a given age, but also how to deter exposure once that determination is made.