YA is Maturing & It’s Good! | Discussion

 

I’ve read some posts lately that have made me a little angry. These posts are discussing how young adult books, also known as YA, shouldn’t depict teenagers in sexual relationships or showing them in ‘mature’ situations like drinking or even having them say the word fuck. Everyone is allowed their own opinions, obviously, but I feel that saying YA maturing over the last few years is a bad thing is wrong. The world is changing. This generation is different from the young adults who were reading young adult books in the early 2000’s. This generation is one of inclusivity and diversity. It’s important to remember this and how the times have changed. One can not stay stagnant and believe that young people who read YA shouldn’t see themselves represented through their experiences.

I will say that you may disagree with me completely and this post is kind of all over the place, but I understand. I just don’t want sex to be viewed as a bad thing throughout YA books because it’s not. To brief: I am not saying all books should include sex. That would be excluding asexual and aromantic people and I’m not here for that. I’m just saying that sex and these ‘mature’ themes should be explored much more in YA.

Just a FYI, I will be saying ‘mature’ in quotation marks because I do not believe these things fall under the mature category.

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cursing

One of the things that irk me the most is when I click on a book on Goodreads and read through the reviews and “too much cursing” is in a book. I also get countless comments on my reviews on Goodreads telling me to stop swearing and “would I say these things to my mother?” Look, I swear in front of my mother. I made my stance clear when I graduated high school and turned 18 that I believed “swear” words aren’t bad and shouldn’t be seen as bad. Teenagers swear too. I don’t think I’ve met a teenager who doesn’t swear or at least some form like saying “sh*t” and acting as if that asterisk really changes the word that much.

As a teenager, I cursed a lot. As a 20, almost 21 years old, I still curse a lot. I feel it’s important to include these things and not have a crowd of 17-year-olds gasp whenever someone says fuck. Hell, the word cursing disappoints me so much. Whenever I hear it I really think someone is about to curse a hex and I am always so disappointed.

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sex

Obviously, when people are talking about YA maturing too much they’re referring to sex scenes. You know what’s normal? Teenagers exploring their bodies and having sex. It’s not a scandalous act. There is a high chance that someone had sex for you to be here. Making sex taboo in YA shows that teenagers shouldn’t talk about it. That’s not safe. That’s also when accidents happen when teenagers feel as if they’re unable to communicate what is happening in their personal lives. Sex isn’t evil. In Australia, you’re taught what sex is when you’re 11. The awareness of it is important considering children as young as 13 are willingly having sex. That may seem outrageous to you, I know it does to me, but not portraying sex in young adult books seems ridiculous to me.

A big thing I’m finding with the inclusion of sex in young adult books, slut shaming is ending. If you don’t know what slut-shaming it is, it is when someone shames someone (typically a woman) for having had sex in the past or doing so frequently. People and teenagers go through so many embarrassing and awkward changes that shaming them for exploring the sexual attraction they might feel is foolish. This isn’t to say though that books that depict ace or aro teenagers shouldn’t be written because they should. I’m simply saying that ignoring teenagers have sex is hurtful for the changing times. Especially sex that isn’t heteronormative. Teenagers apart of the LGBT+ community see hurtful representations in the traditional media as well and sometimes the only positive sexual experience they see may be in a YA book. Who are you to deny them of that?

It is similar in the way that a lot of young adult books represent alcohol and drugs. Young teenagers are now trying and experimenting with these things, it is very rare to find a youth who hasn’t. So, not every book should include this ‘mature’ content but they really should Additionally, I want to point out this kind of thing is reflecting traditional life. You can’t ignore this. As a medium, one can probably start including warnings for sexual content in YA books. If you don’t want to read that, you don’t have to. However, I just feel like it is silly to ignore that this is how the world actually works.

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drinking & drugs

I’m going to keep this point super brief. Simply point out that, unfortunately, lots of teenagers drink and try drugs. I had my first drink at 17 (the year I turned 18, the drinking age in Australia). These things need to be included in mainstream YA books, rather than having the MC’s looking down on characters who do these things.

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overall

Obviously, there are some teenagers and young adults who don’t have sex, curse, drink or do drugs but I’m sure they see or hear about it in their schools. The world is changing. Young adult books need to keep up with this. You may not want to read books that have sexual content within them, but I personally don’t want to read books that have heavy religious tones. However, I believe the main problem and the reason I wanted to write this post is that people are saying YA shouldn’t be including this kind of content. It frustrates me so much because not having this inclusivity in YA is the reason why so many teenagers don’t read – they don’t see themselves represented.

This post is honestly a mess, but I am very passionate about the fact that YA should include sex, whether descriptive or fade to black. Sex isn’t a bad thing and it is okay to explore your body. What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree?

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24 thoughts on “YA is Maturing & It’s Good! | Discussion

  1. Actually this is very logical and I agree with you, but readers wants to read about perfect characters which is not always good. Like when a character is stupid and they say that “I hated the book because of that character”, look around you, people do all kinds of stupid things but if the writing and the choices are so unrealistically stupid then I understand that (I myself did mention this in few of my reviews but now I think more about it). Great post

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There were always kids who had sex at 13, smoked & drank at 14. Nothing new there. Not mentioning these things in books won’t change a thing.
    I swear quite a lot and i really don’t see the problem with it. Some people say swearing makes you sound stupid or uneducated. But i say fuck them. Never in my life had i the experience of someone thinking I’m not intelligent just cuz i have the f word flying around frequently…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. Oh my God, yes! I agree with you so fucking much. The worst is when they extend the “makes you seem unintelligent” argument into the “I don’t want my kids to hear this”. I had a lady yell at me once in public for saying fuck with my friend because she was with her kid. As if people will be out in the world and won’t hear the word fuck, so unrealistic.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I certainly agree with you. Books should reflect reality should the author wish for it or not, it’s not up to the reader to decide for the author. However, I think those people who are saying that YA shouldn’t include content like the ones you’ve mentioned, may be viewing YA not as a genre but as their target of audience (I haven’t read any posts like this so Idk, tbh) and some people can be very adamant (especially when it comes to people and not characters) in believing that non-adults are completely and utterly innocent and pure/free from whatever that’s ‘bad’. Nevertheless, there’s enough censorship as it is, and I think it’s better for the younger readers to be taught ‘properly’ (or as ‘properly’ as one can be taught) instead of simply hiding them at the mention of something ‘bad’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you! Most of us have been teenagers and we’ve all made mistakes. I really feel that adults/parents try to gate keep teenagers on this knowledge as well. Definitely better that they are knowledgeable on a topic and know how to behave responsibly rather than getting into sticky situations. Thank you so much for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is not exactly the same because Leah Burke (from Leah on the Offbeat didn’t drink/do drugs, etc) but a lot of people disliked her and thought she was too mean. I wasn’t outwardly blunt like Leah was, but as a teenager I was MEAN. I was so mean to my mom and said really angry, dumb things just like Leah. I wasn’t mean to my friends outright, but a lot of my toxic crap filtered out onto them and there’s onto me. Like, are any of the people complaining about imperfect teen characters perfect, non-hormonal, mature angels of sixteen year olds? Were they raised by a governess or something??? At that age, MOST people I knew acted out.

    I feel like the is a form of self-censoring that has come out of PC (politically correct) culture. First, if a single person interprets a book as ‘problematic’, it is whether it’s true or not. Now if a character acts anything short from perfectly self-aware, kind and always supportive of their friends, and always listens respectively on social issues they are ‘problematic’. They are TEENS. I was one and I was pretty self-absorbed myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree so much! I literally have nothing to add because you’re so spot on! People are expecting way too much from teens these days and adults definitely aren’t writing them as realistic half the time.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      Like

  5. This is so well written! I get so bothered when people consider swearing too mature in YA. I swear like a sailor and I have for years. Teenagers swear, it is something people just need to get used too!
    Such a great post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know we’ve already discussed this a little bit privately, but holy hell, I LOVE THIS POST. ♥ And I love *you* for making it! Okay, let’s see:

    “Hell, the word cursing disappoints me so much. Whenever I hear it I really think someone is about to curse a hex and I am always so disappointed.”

    RELATABLE. AS. FUCK.

    “A big thing I’m finding with the inclusion of sex in young adult books, slut shaming is ending.”

    YESSSSSSS TO THIS. Oh my god, yes. I know I’m always talking about the ACOTAR series and I know it’s a polarizing one, but it was kind of my major re-introduction to YA after having left the YA community for several years, and the FIRST thing that I loved about it was how casually Feyre viewed sex, and how fast she called Tamlin and Lucien out when she felt that they were slut-shaming her for her casual hookup guy back home. I was literally like, “YES GIRL, YOU TELL ‘EM, GET YOU THAT D” lmaoooo.

    But seriously, teens are going to fuck and swear and drink no matter what books depict, but if we depict this stuff in a healthy and positive manner (yes, even drinking, which I strongly believe teens should have a safe place to responsibly experiment with, because I’d ALWAYS prefer hearing about a 16-year-old getting drunk at home than at a party), it’s going to help reduce the taboos and encourage kids to make HEALTHIER choices.

    I would literally bet money that, if my parents hadn’t tried so hard to shelter me from healthy sexual representations in media as a kid, there are choices I made – STUPID choices – that I would’ve thought twice about because I would’ve known the difference between healthy and unhealthy sexual relationships. Instead, I felt like every speck of it was so damn taboo that I was overwhelmed when it came time to actually make those choices, and I chose wrong for most of them. Even my own mother, now that I’m almost 26 years old, talks to me about this stuff and says she wishes she hadn’t tried so hard to make sex taboo for me, and that she thinks I would have been more well-equipped to face the world if I’d better known what I was getting myself into.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I literally can’t add to anything you’ve said apart from how God damn right you are in everything you’ve said! Sheltering children does nothing but harm, unfortunately. I agree with you about Feyre as well, it was the first time I had seen slut shaming called out and I was like “what a QUEEN.”

      I’m so sorry you had sex made taboo when you were younger but I’m glad that your mum now sees her fault.

      Thank you so much for your support on this post Destiny, it has meant everything to me. 😊 ♥

      Like

  7. I agree. I don’t read much YA anymore, but I do see a lot of complaints/mentions when YA books have these things. The reality though is that teens do have sex, and drink, and do drugs, and curse. No, not all teens, but enough that it’s realistic and ok to include these things. Plus, I’ve always felt like books are a great way to safely explore things without the consequences that come with trying them in real life. So I think reading about these things in books could actually have a positive effect (depending on how they’re written, of course).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comment! Exactly, books are a safe way to explore these topics if done well but authors seem to prefer to shame them or avoid them completely which is simply not realistic.

      Like

  8. Love this post & totally agree with you! I love a good sex scene but mainly read YA so I don’t get a lot of them – it sucks! There’s a sweet one in Colour Me In by Lydia Ruffles & I was so excited about it 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is an incredibly well written post! I super agree with you! I didn’t do drugs or drink as a teen, but my choice was very conscious heavy, I grew up in foster care because my parents were drug addicts. So It would eat me alive with guilt to do drugs. I want to see characters who don’t do drug and stuff to have reasons like that, not just because an adult told not to, haha.

    And I definitely agree about cussing! It’s just not realistic to not have cussing with teenagers, ha! And healthy, consensual sexual relationships are improatn for people to read. It shapes the way you view sex and I think YA books shouldn’t shy away from healthy sexual relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely understand that and I relate! I’ve never tried drugs and only really started drinking occasionally once I hit legal age to my mum dating many addicts who shaped my view to be overwhelmingly negative. It would be nice to see more depth to the reasoning definitely. I don’t think I met anyone in high school who didn’t do something because an adult told them to hahah.

      Thank you so much for your comment! It’s been so nice to see so many people agreeing with this. Hopefully, the change continues in YA, it’s so damn important!

      Like

  10. You say this post is a mess, I say it’s very good, and I completely agree with you. The world is changing, it’s certainly not the world I grew up in anymore. That would almost make it sounds as if I am feeling old, but I am not (I’m still young at heart is what I could say lol). Seriously though, some people just need to get of their high horses once in a while and open their eyes. They were once teenagers themselves and I am pretty sure they probably did all kinds of crazy stuff when they were young too. I see absolutely nothing wrong with having adult themes including sex included in these books, as I think it’s only natural. As for the swearing and cursing: duh pretty much every teenager curses and uses foul language! And if one has never heard that before, they are in desperate need of a hearing aid.
    Wonderful post! Thanks for entering Jon’s Creator Showcase 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I am so glad to see so many people are agreeing with what I said. Characters in books need to show real-life scenarios, and sure not every teenager has sex or go to parties but quite a large amount of them do and to ignore that is ridiculous.

      Liked by 1 person

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