Today I turned on my Kindle and decided to look for a few new books to add to my 'To Be Read' list. I'm a sucker for a good love story, but I'd prefer my story to have a plot alongside it as well. I typed in 'YA Romance' into my search bar and it automatically suggested that I add 'with sex'. This really, really irked me. It irked me that so many people have searched for young adult novels that have sex in them that it would automatically assume that I wanted it in the stories I read as well. I don't.
Now, let me make myself clear, I am not bashing on books that have explicit scenes it them, but I don't think that authors should add them into every single book they write. I am so, so, so sick of books that are just porn without plot. There are a lot of books with nothing but verbally abusive boyfriends wanting to have sex with the main character...in every chapter! Seriously, enough is enough!
Teen pregnancy is a serious issue in America now. I graduated with four teen moms. All of them were younger than I was. My friend got his fifteen year old girlfriend pregnant the year we were graduating. She now has two children by two different guys, and she's not even eighteen yet. Teenagers are beginning to think it's okay to go around and have sex as much as they want, and we are constantly promoting that to our audiences.
I'm twenty-one years old. I'm not some mother or grandmother who thinks the media is poisoning my child/grandchild's brain. I'm a little sister and a big sister. My little sister is sixteen years old, and I constantly worry about her getting pregnant or catching an STD. I don't know if she's having sex with the guys she's dating. I don't live with her or monitor her. What I do know is that movies, books, and songs promote sex like it's some shiny thing that everyone should be doing all the freaking time. My sister listens to music, she watches movies, and she will occasionally crack open a book. My little sister is being exposed to it every day of her life. Your brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, and friends are being exposed to it every day.
Do my characters have sex? Yes, I do have a FADE TO BLACK scene in my book Behind the Wooden Door, but if you want to pretend they didn't have sex, go right ahead. You can do that, and it will not hurt my feelings at all. In Mutilate My Heart, I have a scene where my main characters get a little too close, but they don't do anything. They pull back and are like 'OMG I'm an idiot.' That is very paraphrased, but you get the point. I don't have explicit scenes in my books because I want parents to feel comfortable handing my books to their children/grandchildren. I don't want any teenagers getting it in their head that it's totally cool to go sleep with a guy they just met because they read it in one of my books.
I have heard authors say things like 'the only way any of our books are going to sell is if we add a lot of sex to them.' Uhm... I'd rather not sell books than to have to make my books filled with raunchy, explicit scenes. I don’t 'talk dirty' to my boyfriends because that is the most awkward thing in the world to me... and slightly disgusting.
Authors, let's stop promoting that it's totally okay to sleep with a guy you barely know and that sex is the way to make a guy love you/stay with you. If a guy (or girl) only wants you for sex, you're better off without them. Promote love that doesn’t have to rely on a physical relationship to keep it afloat.