Sunday, January 13, 2013
So, speaking of sex and YA...
I was travelling the interwebs this evening as my alter ego, and I happened to find this post on a review site called Reviews by Jessewave. (Warning: probably NSFW as the site reviews male/male romance. Sometimes with pictures!) And it raises a very valid argument: why is violence okay in YA fiction but not sex?
The post is specifically about YA Romance, a genre I don't read, but I think it applies to all YA. And I actually think that most of the comments answered the question. It's not that authors are overlooking the fact that kids are having sex, it's because if they write a scene where they show underage characters having sex, are they in fact committing a crime? It's something that I wouldn't like to risk, and a publisher sure as hell wouldn't.
Violence, you can do. You can push that envelope as far as you like. Sex, no. And maybe that's a double standard, and maybe it's even hypocritical, but I think we have to draw the line somewhere, and I think it's safer that it's drawn where it is right now: at eighteen, when you magically realise you have tingly feelings, right?
The poster at Jessewave raises the very valid point that sex shouldn't be hidden away like something shameful, and that is so, so true. But make no mistake: you can write a story where kids have sex. Because -- shock, horror -- kids are doing that in real life, and it's stupid to pretend that it doesn't happen. In fact, I'm planning a book at the moment where sex is a central theme. But there will not be any actual sex scenes. You'll see my characters talk about, think about, lie about it and brag about it, but you won't see it.
And I think that's the difference. That's where we drawn the line. And that's where it needs to be drawn, not to prevent the exploitation of fictional child characters, but to prevent the titillation of predators.
Where do you guys stand on this?