Ramblings | Should sex be taboo in YA novels?

This has been a topic that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. I have no clue whether this is going to be controversial or not, but either way it is something I’ve wanted to talk about and explore for a long time. The topic I’m going to be discussing today is whether sex should be taboo in YA novels?

ramblings

YA books are usually written for teenagers aged 12-18, but are read by a wider variety of people. Older people still read YA books and even younger people – I remember reading YA fiction way before I was 12 because other books bored me and I wanted something new, an adventure. So is it okay for these kids to be exposed to sex at that age? The short answer to this is yes, I believe it is fine to include sex in YA books.

 Sex in YA books are never explicit or gross.

There are way worse things that kids watch on TV these days and sex in YA novels are never explicit. It never goes into loads of detail and it never makes things gross or awkward. In fact I think YA books (especially contemporaries) romanticizes the whole process and that’s fine by me. I think it’s better for readers to know about it and read about it even if the descriptions aren’t all that practical/realistic sometimes.

 They’re going to hear about is somewhere, why not books?

Books are a great teaching method and if teenager are getting interested or curious about sex, then why not let them read a book featuring sex. It might not be biologically accurate, but at least they’ll get some sort of feel for what’s going on and what it’s all about. Besides I think it might also be a great learning opportunity. If we can add more safe sex facts into YA books and loads of information about safe sex and things relating to safe sex it can help teenagers understand how to practice safer sex.

 Teens want to relate to the books they read.

We as readers normally want to relate to the books we read (besides sometimes Fantasy novels). We want to feel connected to the characters and we want to understand what they are going through and adding sex to a YA novel is a great way to achieve that connection. Unfortunately (or fortunately) most teenagers that read YA are sexually active, so they can instantly relate to a character that is having sex.

 I think it’s an important topic to explore.

Personally I think that sex shouldn’t be a taboo topic and that it should be included in all YA books! I think because books have become so diverse it’s important to add sex to all books, this will mean that no one will feel left out and that every reader will feel comfortable reading and talking about sex. If sex is present in LGBTQIA+ books it might help the reader better understand sex and make them feel more comfortable with asking questions and talking about it, the same goes for readers just reading an average contemporary novel.

Do you think sex should be included in YA books? Or would you rather it be taboo? Do you think adding sex will make  teens more curious both bad or good? What are some good YA books where the sex scene was perfect? Let me know in the comments!

michelle-2

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36 thoughts on “Ramblings | Should sex be taboo in YA novels?

  1. This is such an important topic! I agree that yes, sex should be included in YA books. Not only does it normalize it, it can also help teach kids the difference between good relationships and bad ones. I learned a lot from reading as a kid and I think that the healthy relationships and experiences in what would be classified as YA books (the genre didn’t really exist at the time) really helped me a lot.

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    1. This is so true! I definitely think that teenagers can learn from YA books and I do think that it teaches them the balance between a good and a potentially bad relationship. It definitely normalizes things and I think it will help teenagers feel more comfortable about the topic and maybe even encourage them to ask questions and not be shy 😊

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  2. Hmm the YA books that I’ve read mainly deal with attraction and maybe a kiss. It’s approach is always sweet and innocent. That’s also why I like YA books so much (although I’m nowhere near the 12-18 year range). I don’t mind it being mentioned but it shouldn’t be the big focus and it shouldn’t be too detailed either.

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    1. I’m nowhere near that range either, but I still love YA books because even though I’m older I still feel like I can relate to what is happening 😊 I totally agree that it shouldn’t be the main focus of the novel or be too detailed. The “sex scene” in The Fault In Our Stars was just the perfect mix of innocence, yet you knew exactly what happened. That is the kind of thing I want to see in YA books 😊

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  3. I don’t think sex should be taboo. BUT! I don’t like it when sex and physical attraction is portrayed as love, when it’s quite probably just lust (which is also totally fine). Instalove like that is unrealistic. Sex doesn’t always equal love, though of course that may come later. I think it gives teens unrealistic expectations in life, and I think it’s important to remove the taboo of having sex “out of love” so to speak, because love usually (not always, granted) comes after sex

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    1. That’s extremely true, but I think it takes teenagers a long time to also differentiate between love and lust, so it’s probably important for authors to help them. And I think it’s extremely important to remove these unrealistic expectations about love and sex, it should be made clear that it is probably only lust.
      Thanks for your insightful answer 😊 You made me look at it from a whole new perspective.

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  4. I think it’s much more important for YA novels to portray relationships that are healthy, and none of that creepy stuff that was made popular by Twilight. I’ve seen too many YA and Romance books that make abusive, possessive, jealous relationships somehow desirable, and that gives young people a wrong idea about what to look for in a partner. When it comes to sex, of course it okay to have it in YA book, as long as it’s tasteful, but I have to disagree on the level of realism that should be demanded. I think it’s better if, again, the whole process wasn’t overly romanticized, but again, portrayed in a healthy manner that is fair to both girls and boys. You want to cultivate realistic expectations of what sex means physically, as well as emotionally between two people. That goes back to your point about educational value of such topics in books. Great discussion and thanks for bringing it up.

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    1. I absolutely 100% agree that it is important to focus on portraying healthy relationships and I know there are way too many books out there that romanticizes the wrong things, like possesiveness and jealousy. As for sex in YA, I think you’re right in emphasizing the fact that it should be physically and emotionally correct, so teenagers can have a better understanding of what to expect 😊

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  5. Great post! I think this is a very important topic to discuss. In my opinion it’s important for YA books to include good and healthy relationships (non abusive – physically or mentally or in any way). It can help kids/teens see the difference between good and bad relationships. Sex should be included in it as well, after all it’s a perfectly normal thing and, as you said, it would be a great learning experience. 🙂 Though, personally I’m asexual soooo I don’t care much about it in the first place, but I do think it’s important to be included in books. 😄

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    1. Thank you 😊 It’s definitely important to still make sure that the relationships portrayed are healthy ones and sex (to an extent) is usually part of a healthy relationship. So I feel that if it can be included in a respectful manner then why not!

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  6. I agree, it’s perfectly fine, and like you said it never goes into detail, and it’s hardly even said in the book, there’s just indication of what happened or what is is going to happen so yes I think it would be good to normalize it more. Nice post 😀

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  7. I wholly agree, especially because it is so prevalent in the media today. Ya books definitely should open up about this topic more. There are many worse ways kids learn about sex. Honestly, I learned about it before I even turned ten, at least I had an idea about it (from other kids no less) it’s not something that should be taboo, especially in ya novels.

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  8. I think some sex scenes are ok because YA readers are often curious and they relate to characters as they’re reading. I think strong leads that are also standing their ground about their beliefs (to have sex or to not have sex) are important. They teach YA readers that they should be strong and stand up for what they believe in. Also talking about safe sex in YA novels should NOT be taboo as readers will then learn that talking about safe sex is ok and important.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more 😊
      That’s why I’m saying that including sex in YA can be a great thing. It can totally teach teenagers about safe sex and what to expect (and what not to expect). And I think there should be more books about teenagers standing their ground about sex, because whether you choose to do it or not you shouldn’t be ashamed of your choices 😊🌸

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  9. Very interesting! I remember reading YA and it was hinted at or implied, but details were hardly ever given. I appreciated it then, and I appreciate that now. Part of what makes a lot of adults love YA is that it reminds them of their teenage selves and the innocence (or lack thereof) that they had. Your first kiss was a big deal then. I don’t know about teens today, but my first kiss wasn’t till I was 16. Remembering the nervousness and inexperience of it is sometimes horrifying and sweet. I understand the importance of including sex in YA with the world we live in today, but I hope that it still maintains a shred of that innocence it had when I was younger.

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    1. Totally! I still want sex to be as innocent as before, but I do think it can help with educating teens. I think authors can maybe just place emphasis on safe sex and the fact that it’s okay to have sex 😊 The way that sex has been portrayed in the past in some YA novels (such as The Fault in Our Stars) has been perfect and I wouldn’t want to change that, just maybe better the message it is giving 😊

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  10. I don’t think sex should be taboo in YA novels. Teenagers are going to be aware of sex and curious about it whether or not it’s in a novel they read. Making something taboo or forbidden just means that teens are going to want to know more about it or try it.
    That being said, I also think that if any sex is included in a YA novel (or any kind of novel for that matter) that it should be relevant to the story and/or character development. Throwing in a sex scene for the sake of having a sex scene isn’t doing that book any favors. If two people having sex is the natural progression of the relationship they are in, then fine, but it should be handled tastefully.

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  11. I agree, I don’t think sex should be a tabboo subject because like you say their going to learn about it somewhere. Sex in YA books is always tastefully done and frankly I would rather my kids in the future read it from books than god knows where else, if we look at society now porn is everywhere. Kids are watching it at school on their phones, parents need to realise also that at 12 some kids are also involved in revenge porn when their sending their friends photos some other child has taken. There are stories also going around now of kids involved in rape cases etc. Sex in YA is not bad, it could be educational and your teaching them that talking about sex is ok too, it’s natural so why is it hidden? it will also give another platform for kids to learn about consent and what a healthy relationship is.

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    1. Definitely agree with everything you’ve said!
      There are way worse ways for kids to find out about sex and at least with books it’s always tastefully done and done in such a way that it feels like the normal way of life 😊 I also definitely think that books can help them learn about consent, safe sex and the natural order of things.

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      1. Sorry it took my so long to reply to this comment, I took a little hiatus from my blog and i’m catching up now! Interestingly, i’m currently reading Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates who mentions sex and children and how she’s heard from girls who are young as 13 being involved in revenge porn cases and how boys in their year are sat around watching porn. I immediately thought of this post again and thought people are worried about sex in books yet they have access to the darker parts of the internet?

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      2. Totally true! At least book’s contents are somewhat controlled, really enabling kids to learn the right things about sex 😊 I cringe to think what kids are reading on the internet, most of it not even being true, so I definitely think YA has to focus on the educational value of sex more 😊

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  12. This is such a touchy topic and the opinions on it in the media vary widely. In US schools there is hardly any sex-ed and what little is taught is usually abstinence. This is probably why the US has for years had some of the highest teen pregnancy rates. YA books should address safe sex, the concept of consent, and being respectful. If our schools won’t teach it they need to learn from somewhere. Otherwise they just learn from the saturation of porn in our society which has become so commonplace and gives unrealistic expectations of sexual encounters.

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    1. Wow! Sex-ed should definitely be a thing. We had basic sex-ed just before starting high school and then throughout high school we spoke about safe sex and STI’s.
      So yes I definitely think that sex should be included in YA books and address things such as safe sex and definitely, definitely address consent and what it entails.

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