Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Girl says "go." Boy says "no."

I want to start off this post by saying everyone's life choices are theirs and I recognize that and don't expect people to live my standards because they're mine and not everyone's.

Ok. Everyone agree on that? Yes?
Good.

I finished reading a book last night. Toward the end of the book, our heroine and hero have no choice but to share a hotel room. The boy decides to sleep on the floor. Our heroine says, "Oh hey. You should come sleep in the bed. Without your clothes on." *eyebrow wiggle* Boy denies. Girl protests. Their arguments goes round in circles, but in the end, our young brave hero does not give in (even though he's probably already slept with a girl) because this girl is different and he loves her, so he won't sleep with her. Our heroine gets all huffy and angsty and wonders if he won't sleep with her because she has small breasts.

I'm wondering if you can place this book with just this information or if you've seen this often enough in YA books that a few are running through your mind. Granted, it isn't as common as a love triangle, but I can think of quite a few YA books that have this kind of scenario. Did it phase me the first time? No, not really. But for some reason, this past book it did. Because I've read this so many times now, I'm starting to worry about this scene getting repeated so often.

Now, here's the thing. I don't think that reading a situation once will normalize it for a reader. So if one book has a character making a decision that I wouldn't want my younger cousin to make, usually I won't get up-in-arms about it. But the situation above alarms me because I worry it's becoming normalized.

I mean, hey, in this situation, they don't sleep with each other. So why get so alarmed about it? Well, who is this kind of book targeted to? Teenage girls. The heroine of the story wants to get down, and a lot of the time, with a boy who's been "bad" before. I get the authors, in this scenario, are probably trying to show how our bad boy has changed, or how the hero's love for the girl is pure. But for me, it also kind of hints that the man is in control of when the couple takes that step. I can think of one book right now (and maybe my memory's fuzzy and I'm only remembering one right now) in which the girl says "No, it's not the time" to her love interest--the one who she really does love, not the bad boyfriend kind of character. Other than that, it's always been the boy who stops it. Which makes me wonder, will teenage girls think that they can trust their partner? That once they get those urges, it's okay to bring it up and try to get him to sleep with her, expecting the boy to know if they're ready or it's okay for them to go ahead? If so, this is a VERY bad idea. Because the boy they have may not be as idealized as the one in the book. He's just as stupid with hormones as the girl is. And this could be very bad.

Like I said in the opening: people have different standards. That's everyone's choice and I don't mean to waggle my finger at anyone who's making different choices than me. BUT. Every person should make a responsible choice. And in these YA book moments, they're never ready, they've never thought about the consequences, they aren't responsible at all. And ultimately that's what worries me. That authors are so caught up in making it dramatic that it's setting a bad example for the teens who read it.

Tell me if you agree or if I'm being an over-dramatic prude.  

8 comments:

  1. That's a very good point. There are so many books I've read where this happens, and I can see how it would send such a bad message about who's in control in a relationship.

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  2. Yikes, I'm the wrong person to ask about this, because I definitely have opinions that are based on personal emotions, not an objective view. I have a 16-year-old stepdaughter and a 14-year-old stepson, and I have a hard time listening to song lyrics on the general radio sometimes without being embarrassed and wondering what they think about them. Then, there's the ABC Family channel which I think has kind of endorsed this idea that lots of teenagers are running around like college-aged students in terms of their actions and responsibilities and sexual activity (I'm only talking about two or three of their programs). I know they're doing it in the name of being "realistic," but it's hard to believe that the occasional kid isn't adjusting to the idea of that tv realism. As for books, I don't read a lot of contemporary YA, and I haven't run into that situation in a book. But, having the mommy-of-teenagers mentality, that would kind of get to me. I'm guessing my sensitivity to all of that stuff will lessen once the kids go to college, but right now, I'm super sensitive to it. Okay, I'll stop ranting now :)

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  3. it is something to take into the bigger picture when it is a book geared to younger people---some excellent points you make!

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  4. You do make some really good points here :-)

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  5. I agree. It's not just YA books, though. Put in a RomCom or any other flimsy teen-oriented movies. Turn on ABC "Family", or CW, or even Disney Channel, for a while one afternoon.
    Ugh. It's almost monotonous.
    Blame Twilight for giving adults in the entertainment world the impression that girls with a hot love interest are desperate to give it all up.
    Okay, now I sound like the over-dramatic prune. (;

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  6. Well, any scene that is becoming over used and predictable should go, despite the moral questions. But I think you made some good points.

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  7. I don't think you are being a prude at all. I do think that scenario send the wrong message plus I think it doesn't make for the most appealing female character. I want to see more characters that are strong morally as well.

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