Hello friends! How are you doing on this lovely Wednesday? I’m writing this post because I noticed awhile ago that there is a definite divide between readers when it comes to including sex in Young Adult books. For example I actually held a poll on my Twitter about including sex in Young Adults and this was the result:
I had around 800+ followers at the time when I posted this poll, (now I’m at 940, yay!) but still I was a bit shocked that 17% said no. Now I feel like I need to clarify a few things about this blog post before diving into it. When I’m talking about including sex in Young Adult books, I think a lot of people would automatically think of what is written in a romance book or something written that is very sensual. The whole purpose of this blog post is not to have the written type of sex that is included in romance books, but to at least include sex in Young Adult books that is at least shows what the characters are doing. For example, I’ve read several Young Adult books that allude to the reader that characters indeed have sex, but instead of going into some sort of detail the section of the chapter ends and the characters wake up together in bed or holding each other somewhere etc.
Which in my personal opinion, as a reader and an American is frustrating because in the United States including sex or explaining anything that deals with sex is an issue. If you’re not an American and you’re reading this blog post, let me explain: in the American school system its preferred by schools and families in general for students to learn abstinence over sex education. Growing up my school district had an outside group come into the school that was run by the local church and instead of teaching my fellow peers and I sex education, they told us to abstain from sex. This was in 5th-6th grade when I was 10-12 years old and we had several other meetings with this church group in 7th-8th grade.
Flash forward to 9th grade where I was a Freshman in High School where I was finally in Health class that taught sex education, very little sex education actually. We were taught about sexual intercourse and the repercussions of having sex like sexual diseases and pregnancy. We were also taught the various stages of puberty in girls and boys, even though the various stages of puberty starting happening to us YEARS ago.
Abstinence over sex education and not including sex in Young Adult books I think the two subjects have a lot of common and it adds up to the whole point of this blog post. That as a generation and Americans are not comfortable with sex. I don’t understand why people are not comfortable with sex, sex education, sex in books/Young Adult books. Sex is part of our lives and I really don’t understand why people are so against it.
I came up with this blog post because someone made a comment about a book/book series I love and I’ll just say the book series, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Someone said that it was pushing the boundaries of a Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance genre as a book and series and I was just so confused. They continued to say that what was written in particularly A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas was too much like romance erotica and I was laughing very hard. Calling a book by like A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas erotic was a bit ridiculous, because honestly if you want to read something highly erotic you need to look up this book:
This is just a teaser of Misadventures with a Professor by the fabulous Sierra Simone. She has written some of the most erotic and dirtiest romance books I have ever read in my life and I love them. I’m not going to include a sample of her writing but the teaser picture of her latest release above should give you a clue of exactly what erotica is.
Calling A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas “too sexual” to be Young Adult is just asinine. For example, in romance books authors call certain parts of the human anatomy names that some may deem dirty or erotic. Maas not once uses those terms and honestly she censors a lot of things too. Not once in the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series does she overstep those boundaries, but you know for sure as you’re reading along with the books, you KNOW what the characters are doing. She does in a tasteful and meaningfully way! Bravo to Maas for describing what the characters are doing instead of trailing off to another page or skipping the encounter completely.
Circling around to what I said earlier, I feel like people who don’t like seeing sex written in Young Adult books is because of several reasons: one, they are part of that generation where we were taught abstinence over sexual education. Or two they just aren’t comfortable with sex. I don’t think reading about sex should be taboo, for any age. Yes, there should be some boundaries with younger teens and kids reading but taking it out completely? No. Sex is part of our lives, it helps us not only create life but it also connects us to other human beings. Both real and fictional people. I think keeping it out of books, especially Young Adult books is not the right thing to do.
Those are my thoughts with Sex in Young Adult books. What do you think about this subject? Do you agree that sex should be written in Young Adults books or disagree? Why? I would love to hear your guys thoughts!
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5 thoughts on “Sex in Young Adult Books”
I think this is very well written and I wholeheartedly agree with you.
I’m not American, I’m a Brit where my “sex education” was watching video of a a women giving birth when I was 9. Then why I was 15 our sex education lesson was cancelled as someone stole the condom.
I believe YA books need to have sex in them for the people who are uncomfortable asking friends or family questions they might find embarrassing.
Also along with your mention of Mass I thought it was fantastic that she had Rhys have the birth control tonic. It does take two to tango and putting the responsibility on the male is refreshing and shouldn’t be considered out of the norm.
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I totally agree with this Katy! You’re right that sex shouldn’t be a taboo subject, especially since realistically, there are a number of people who start engaging in sexual activities at such a young age. Avoiding this issue, if it even IS one, doesn’t help anyone and instead further pushes a kind of social stigma for those who have already had their sexual experience.
I think that for a lot of young adults, they wouldn’t feel so self-conscious if they’re able to read about these experiences in books, no matter that it’s fiction.
Excellent points Katy! I’m glad you published this article and it’s definitely worth sharing! ❤
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Thank you so much Angela! I really appreciate it!!
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This is a great article, and you make some really awesome points. Personally, I’m fine with sex in YA books or simply fade-to-black, leave-it-to-the-imagination scenes. It all depends on the targeted reader, obviously, but YA authors shouldn’t be afraid of including sex in their books. Like you said, it’s a part of life and, as many YA books deal with romance, it seems silly to exclude it because it’s written for a slightly younger audience. (Even though many, if not most, YA readers are actually adults with some experience in that regard.)
I have only read the first book of the Court of Thorns and Roses series, but I agree completely with what you said. Maas handled the intimacy extremely well, making it sweet and passionate without being vulgar. I’m really excited to read more of the series.
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This was such a good post! I can’t believe someone said that about A Court of Thorns and Roses! It’s definitely not a book which I would see as overly sexual! It’s just a part of the storyline and is accepted as just part of life! x