Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ooooo, YA, You So Nasty . . .

"Sexuality is a huge part of adolescence and drives a great deal of adolescent behavior, any realistic novel about adolescent development that does not include sexuality is incomplete."

Quite possibly the best quote out of this article. Teens are doing it, one way or another. Whether it's to themselves or someone else, teens are sexually active. And in a society that's still Puritanical at heart, that can be a problem for some, or maybe a lot, of people. That's why people have a tendency of going insane when any hint of sexuality makes its way into a YA novel. They interpret rape as porn, blow jobs as scandalous and swearing as sacrilegious.

But let's take into account the physiological aspects of teenagers. Puberty sets in around 13 (sometimes younger, sometimes older) and their hormones go spastic. The human frontal lobe isn't fully developed until around 21 or 22 and teens commonly function on the Id impulse, lacking self-control and functioning based on want (typically). So even if they want to remain chaste and pure (which is perfectly fine), their bodies are working against them in that respect. That's not to say teenagers are all impulse and aren't capable of controlling themselves. But when you're mind is wired to think about sex a lot, you're going to think about sex a lot. And many are going to take that next step and feed some of those urges. It's only natural.

So when we have books showcasing this perfectly natural function of a teenager, why do parents squeal to have them banned? Is it because they're just children? Is it because they don't want to talk to their kids about sex? Is it because they want to step back into that crazy Puritanical society and stamp out sexuality entirely? According to Christianity, are we not made in God's image? So doesn't that mean God has a libido?

Why are we, as a society, so afraid to educate teenagers about their own bodies? Why are we so quick to slap them down and call them whores and slobs and disgusting for merely being curious about what they, themselves, are going through?

Some statistics for you -

•In 2006–2008, most teens aged 15–19 had received formal instruction about STIs (93%), HIV (89%) or abstinence (84%). However, about one-third of teens had not received any formal instruction about contraception; males were even less likely to receive this instruction than females (62% vs. 70%).[10]
• Many sexually experienced teens (46% of males and 33% of females) did not receive formal instruction about contraception before they first had sex.[11]
• About one in four adolescents (23% of females and 28% of males) received abstinence education without receiving any instruction about birth control in 2006–2008 [11], compared with 8–9% in 1995.[12]
• Among teens aged 18–19, 41% report that they know little or nothing about condoms and 75% say they know little or nothing about the contraceptive pill.[13]

Check this website out for more interesting data. I like the graphs that show schools more heavily rely on abstinence only than sex education. These numbers are truly frightening. Math doesn't lie. Teens are having sex regardless of the education they're getting and abstinence only is pretty much a proven failure. So if teens are going to do it anyway, why not educate them? If they find that education through works of fiction, what does it matter? Their parents are obviously not doing their jobs, their schools aren't educating properly. They have to find out somehow. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil doesn't work here.

How do you feel about sex in YA? Do you think it's an important part of the category to include it when it would naturally fit?
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