Alright, so now that part 1 of Sex in YA has helped us to firmly establish what genre the Grab Your Pole series actually falls into—okay, so it’s more like a befuddled uncertainty still, so for the sake of this post let’s just split the difference and say the GYP series is mature young adult—now we can better discuss the good stuff. The sex.
In this part of the blogpost series, let’s look at why I would choose to include sex in a series of books primarily aimed at high school-aged teens.
It’s relevant and it’s prevalent.
Teens are being exposed to sex in some way everywhere, whether it’s on a TV commercial, in a movie, a sitcom, a joke, a magazine, the news, at school (i.e., the teaching of Romeo & Juliet, The Scarlet Letter and the like), on a street corner, or on the radio etc... Here’s a fun little tid-bit of useless information for you, I have 58 songs in my music library alone with the word sex in the title. That’s just in the title; it’s not counting album titles or what a song is actually about. And, most of those songs have been or currently are being played by popular radio stations everywhere. So, unless they’re being continually and consistently monitored or live like the Amish (which I have no problem with—they’re your kids, raise ‘em how you see fit) teens are being inundated by sex. And guess what, whether they're in a mature relationship that can honestly withstand the added pressure and complication that sex adds and whether they should be or not, and regardless of whether or not it’s condoned by parents or their religious beliefs, many teens are having sex.
If you’ve read my stuff, you know that I’m not one to really pussyfoot around with the reality of things like that, but I also feel that for a story about more or less average high school teenagers to be realistic, sex has gotta be there. Somewhere. Because the fact of the matter is, if a teen isn’t already doing it, they’re most likely thinking about it in some way even if it’s in the abstract, and sooner or later, they’re going to be faced with having to make a decision. And let’s not forget, the GYP series is just that. A series. It’s not a standalone book in which a moderately short story of only a couple of characters is told. That said, it also features a rather large cast of characters, a couple of whom sort of dictate the protocol here as it pertains to sex just by simply being who they are, and you’ve all heard the term birds of a feather, right? Well, chances are that a person is going to be likeminded with the group of friends they’re closest to, so if a good handful of friends are doing it, it probably won’t be long before the others who aren’t, are. Of course that’s a generalization and not all BFFs are gonna be of the “if my friends jump off a cliff, I will too” mindset. All I’m saying is that it’s more typical than not that close friends are going to be on the same page when it comes to activities and behavior.
So sex is everywhere and a lot of teens are celebrating hump day – check – sex is relevant and prevalent. Sex also sells though and people want to see it and read about it. Although that might be true, by including sex in this particular series of books it is not my intention to up my sales or write a How To manual for underage horndogs. It is my intention however to make the series relatable to a wider range of readers (hello, I’m perfectly aware that most of my readers are long past their high school years) while also incorporating a variety of very real hot topic buttons for teen readers and parents to ponder.
As it is one of those hot topic buttons I write about, teens might not know how to broach the subject of sex with their parents or have another reliable, mature, and trustworthy source they feel close enough to discuss it with, and there are more parents out there than you might realize who don’t quite know how to talk to their children about it either. Many parents have the fear that their teen will either shut them out, become secretive and/or rebellious, or simply not listen or take their parent seriously, and I cannot tell you how many friends of my teens have personally told me how lucky they think my girls are to have parents like my husband and me because they could never talk to their mom or dad about the stuff my kids feel comfortable talking to us about.
Now I fully admit that aside from being a parent myself and having survived my teen years relatively unscathed, I am not an expert nor am I a trained guidance counselor and what I might say on the subject certainly shouldn’t be taken as professional advice, but by portraying realistic teen relationships and the relationships fictional parents have with their teens, I feel as though a possible jumping off point of discussion might be provided for use in real life application. If nothing else, readers can at least see what some plausible outcomes and effects certain decisions on sex can have in a young person’s life. Now that’s not to say that I believe parents should adopt any one of the GYP parents’ style of parenting or that teens should use this series of books as a model when it comes to making their own life choices, just that in the books XYZ happened, this is how so-and-so handled it, and _____ was the result. Whether that handling is right or wrong, or the outcome could’ve been something else entirely is neither here nor there; it’s just one of many possibilities to be taken into consideration.
So what’s your take on it? Is the depiction of main characters having sex in YA books such as the Grab Your Pole series warranted or do you feel as though it goes more to encouraging and condoning teen sex? And please, I understand this might be a touchy subject for some and no one should feel as though their morals or parenting styles are being called into question by participating in what I’m hoping will be a (non-spoilery) discussion, so let’s not incite a riot with nasty or judgmental comments. And not that I think anyone who might happen by this particular blog would actually be disrespectful to me or another commenter, but just so everyone knows, any and all such comments will be deleted summarily so play nice. And don’t forget to check back for Sex in YA Part 3, where I’ll get into the actual writing of the deed.