Hey people! If you’ve been following me for some time now, you probably know that even though I’ve been blogging for almost 3 years (yeah! I know!), I’ve never actually done a bookish discussion post. What?! How is that possible?! Oh well… a lot of you guys do them, and you have brilliant ideas every week, and most of the times I end up agreeing with one view or the other, sometimes I even comment, but I never really felt the need to write a post about any of those subjects. That was true until this past friday…
Josie @Josie’s Book Corner wrote a post entitled Sex in Novels…| Thursday Ramblings, as you probably know because you’re all following her, right? – If you aren’t, you might want to start NOW! – I’m rambling here, moving on…
So, Josie wrote this post, and just to shed some light on this, I usually agree with Josie on almost everything. She gives me the best book recommendations and her discussion posts are always on point, but as I saw the subject, I knew that this would not be a theme we would agree on. Have you read her post? Well, Josie defends her opinion on why she doesn’t think that sex should be featured in books, and as I couldn’t disagree more, I decided to write this post to expose my own opinion on this subject.
I should disclose that my opinion is obviously influenced by my very adult age – I’m 31!!! – and the fact that I was raised in a very liberal environment with 3 older siblings. I probably should also mention that I’m agnostic (just because)…
I’ll be using quotes from Josie’s post within the discussion – all quotes are from her.
As you might have figured it out by now, I’m in favor of sex in novels, and yes, I’m being general here. It’s obvious I don’t think it should feature in children’s books, because – DUH!!!, but in any other type of book, yep, I’m all for it.
Now, hold your horses people! Let me get into it, ok?
We have enough of this in our erotica novels, and even more all over the internet. Why should we start sexualising the pages of our novels?
Sex is a natural part of life, and it’s a good part of life! The distinction between what is erotica and not, shouldn’t be on the basis it it features sex or not, it should be in terms of description and explicitly. Should ALL books that feature sex be explicit?! Heck no! But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t include sex if the story calls for it.
We have enough media promoting sex to young people (…) think that including sex in Young Adult novels, is just sending reassurance to young people that it’s normal for them to have sex, being 16, 17, or maybe even younger. This is not something we want to promote.
It’s true that we live in a hypersexualized society, unfortunately yes, it’s very true, but eliminating sexual content from novels doesn’t mean that this trend will disappear. Books should reflect the life and problems that people face everyday, not what society SHOULD be like. I respect everyone’s beliefs, but sex is a BIG part of teens and young adults lives, people are having sex, it’s natural, sex is a normal part of everyday life, it’s no different from any other event in one’s life (except that it’s probably way better).
What I’m saying is: sex shouldn’t be a big deal! Is it an important thing? YES! Should it have limits and be respectful? Obvious! Should you do it only if you’re ready? ABSOLUTELY! But its importance depends on the people involved. Some people will think it’s this huge Earth-Shattering HUGE decision kind of thing, while for most of us Sex is just Sex! (Am I being too cold here?)
Traditionally, sex is a personal experience between two people, coming together in love.
The idea that the sexual act is synonymous of love actually irks me a bit (sorry!). To make it clear, I’m not crazy about the whole “one-night stand” thing, but LOVE is something that comes with time, while lust, attraction and sexual desire are much more immediate. It’s a bit naive of us to think that the two go hand-in-hand for most people, because they don’t, and that’s OK! However, a sexual relationship can be a stepping stone for deeper feelings, and sometimes it happens the other way around ;-) .
If you’ve seen my blog for the past couple of months you know this already, but here it goes: I LOVE NEW ADULT BOOKS! And yes, I like that they include sex, and I even like that they include EXPLICIT sex (cofcof, I live vicariously through my books… whatcha gonna do?!).
Out of all the life experiences that we could be exploring with the New Adult genre, from university, to mid-life crises, and so much more, we are focusing on sex?
It’s true that some New Adult books focus too much on the romance and sex, and forget to actually have a plot, but that’s not true for all those books. And in some cases the sex part of the relationship is important for the development of the relationship as well as the characters. Sex is a big part of most of new adults’ lives, whether they’re in a relationship or just doing the casual thing, so it’s natural that that reality is mirrored in New Adults’ books.
I finished a NA book just a couple of days ago – best NA book I’ve ever read, by the way – where the MC’s relationship with sex was of vital importance to the plot and the story. The book dealt with how to live and have a normal sexual relationship when you were a victim of sexual abuse, and even how to actually acknowledge that you were a victim. It’s an important message and a book that I highly recommend, and it touches on the fact that your body might react to something in a different way that your mind does, and that doesn’t mean you gave consent (my review will be up in a couple of days).
Especially to the readers who are emerging out of YA novels and into NA, we are romanticising the idea of being an adult, giving the impression that when you step into the wider world, your experiences with men/women is going to be all about sexy times and this is just as bad as the portrayal of some romances in YA, in my personal opinion.
This is true, not everyone stepping into adult life will find a partner that easily, but for those who do, even the most imperfect relationship, will most likely involve (some kind of) sex. New Adults who chose to remain celibate (for whatever reason) are a minority, so an adult relationship will most likely involve some steamy, sexy times, as well as everything else. If you chose to read a New Adult ROMANCE, it’s pretty clear that it will include sex – because it usually does in real life. The thing that in most cases doesn’t happen is that you’ll find that perfect someone that easily, but hey, it’s a ROMANCE! Sexual chemistry is important in a relationship!
Could most NA books have better plot? YES!!! Do they all need to describe the sex scenes so explicitly? Hmmm, probably not, but if it’s well written, it’s really nice to read… But it’s unrealistic to have an adult relationship portrayed that doesn’t include sex.
About YA… this is another can of worms… Should sex be present in YA books?! I’ll say YES as well, and I’ll explain my opinion.
Sex should be present whenever the plot calls for it. If we’re talking about a romance of any sort within the YA universe, then it’s only natural, that at some point, the main couple engages in sexual activity. BUT, contrary to NA novels, I believe that the act should be implied and not described.
YA BOOKS DON’T HAVE TO INCLUDE SEX WHEN IT IS NOT PERTINENT, OBVIOUSLY!!!
An example of a YA book that does explicit sex right, in my opinion, is Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi – you have absolutely NO DOUBT about what’s going on, but the only thing described are Juliette’s feelings ;-) – by the way, LUCKY GIRL!!! Another example of pertinent sex in YA is in Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, where everything is implied – non explicitly – and it makes a lot of sense in terms of the progression of the story and the romance.
Mental health, growing up, self discovery, and much more. Of course, I suppose you can argue that sex is a part of self-discovery and growing up but I don’t think so, and I really don’t want to promote sex among a teenage audience.
I have to disagree with Josie here, because SEX is most definitely a part of self-discovery and growing up. The teenage years is when your sexual identity is defined, when you start to feel urges and changes to your body. Acknowledging that is important, because sexual maturation is a normal part of growing up. Also, a lot of teenagers have problems and insecurities regarding sex, body confidence or sexual orientation and identity, if we want books to be diverse, they should include all these problems, in all the shapes, forms and acts that they come in.
For instance, Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, might have a lot of problems, but it deals with the main character sexuality and how her intimate relationship with her transgender boyfriend might work. These are important subjects and they should be talked about.
I’m in favor of sexual content in novels because I think that sex is a natural and normal part of life. I was never shy to discuss it, and it never bothered me to share or talk about the subject, so I have no problem reading about it, and I enjoy it. I realize that my level of comfort with it had something to do with my age and my upbringing, and I understand that not everyone will feel so open and relaxed about this topic.
Having a sexual content within a book doesn’t immediately means that you’re reading “porn” – though let me tell you that some books are highly superior to some of the stuff flying around. Most of the times, sex is dealt with taste, whether it is explicit or not.
“But YA is aimed for kids! The books shouldn’t even touch the subject!!!”
Let me ask you, in which century are you living? Because kids nowadays have a clear understanding on how things work. Given that, I think it’s only beneficial if they read about it in safe books, that show that it should be done with respect and feelings. That protection is important. That it’s ok not to be sure. It’s ok not to do it. And it’s ok to do it. NOBODY SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF SEX! When you start taking the topic off the table of discussions, out of books and schools, and general media, that’s when you’ll lack information and the worst will happen.
It’s always safer to talk openly about these subjects, than to confine them to being unbreachable topics. Talking about these stuff leads to understanding and confidence. Reading about them makes you feel understood and less alone.
Sex is natural. Sex is good. (I hope no one here is still under the impression that babies come from… whatever they say they come from in your country.)
So… almost 2000 words later, I think I’m done! I hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes here :P . So, what do you think about this subject?