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Hello peepsies! So today I am doing a discussion on sex in YA because it’s a pretty popular “thing” that I’ve been seeing in the books I read. I don’t know if it’s because it’s actually becoming a regular thing or if I’m apparently just reading a lot of the books that include sex in them. Either way, let’s discuss….

So like I said, I’ve been seeing sex included in a lot of books. Some examples of such books are:

  • Fire* by Kristin Cashore – includes mentions of it but doesn’t discuss a sex scene
  • The Mortal Instruments* series – mentions sex a bit and describes sex maybe 1 or 2 times
  • Throne of Glass* series by Sarah J Maas – includes some scenes but isn’t that steamy/explicit until later books
  • The Fault In Our Stars* by John Green – gives a general description of sex but that’s really it
  • Firsts* by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – discusses/shows sex but isn’t exactly explicit
  • A Court of Thorns & Roses* series by Sarah J Maas – get ready to be burned bc the sex scenes in here are steaaaaamy!

Ok that seems to be a good amount of examples. Now, as you can see, these are relatively popular books – some a little more than others – with varying degrees of sex in them from relatively little to “are my cheeks red? I shouldn’t read this in public.” All of these have one thing in common, they’re not really awkward at all. Well I haven’t read Firsts yet (2018 update: I read it and it’s amazing and it does show the awkwardness as far as I remember) so I can’t be sure about that one but every one of the other books doesn’t really feature the awkwardness that comes with sex. Especially when it’s your first time doing it. Even I know that and I haven’t kissed a guy let alone had sex (#themuslimlife LOL)! And that seems to be one of the problems of including sex in YA: teens may be openly talking about sex more but that doesn’t mean that there’s no awkwardness to it, both in doing it and in talking about it. Like for me, IRL, my friends used to discuss sex so often while we sat and ate lunch (I know it’s weird) but they would also say sometimes, how awkward it would get or it used to be for them and I personally get so uncomfortable about even SAYING the word sex. So erasing that new-ness and awkwardness of having and talking about sex in books is just unrepresentative of pretty much everyone and gives people unrealistic expectations of things.

This is made even worse when you consider how little people are taught about sex education. Like, at best, we get technical terms and where things go but, other than that, we’re left to fend for ourselves and in this day and age, that means our education comes from TV and from books. So if we see sex somewhere and it’s unrealistic, we don’t really have much to base it off of except the real thing thus (possibly) resulting in disappointment and confusion from both people.

Another thing on the topic of sex is that there are people who don’t do it while they’re young adults *gasp!*

“so read other books without sex! They’re out there!”, you say

Of the books I like to read and that are popular at the moment, that’s not really an option. Plus, I don’t want to go and read something else (wow that sounded like something a 5 yr old would say). Seriously though, lately it seems like every book I read has something to do with sex and, well, it’s not getting annoying per say, but it’s more like it’s becoming unrealistic and a bit less about the romance and love behind it and more like “let’s just do it” which is a bit bothersome. Anyways, I feel like I’m just rambling now so let’s get to the end….

Final thoughts:

Sex in YA is a good thing bc some young adults *do* have sex but it does not need to be everywhere as not everyone has sex when they’re young, for whatever reason (religion, personal, etc). As well, the way it’s being presented does not seem realistic: show the awkwardness and show people having sex for romantic reasons rather than just hookups.

I think that’s all…. Sorry if I was confusing or rambly or all. There’s a lot of points to cover that all go together in diff ways hence the rambly, confusedness. All in all, though, what do you think both about the post and about sex in YA? Do you like how it’s presented? Should there be more or less? Tell me all your thoughts in the comments below! Thank you! Have a great day/night and tata for now!


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5 Comments on “DISCUSSION: Sex in YA”

  1. Pingback: DISCUSSION: Sexual Assault in YA – 1 | Avid Reader

  2. Pingback: The Weekly Hufflepuff #33 – The Writing Hufflepuff

  3. When I wrote BECOMING DARKNESS I made a conscious decision to only vaguely reference sex between Sophie and Val, leaving it to readers to draw their own conclusions and fill in the blanks. I am not a prude, but personally, whether it is YA or adult fiction, I rarely find explicit sex scenes necessary or particularly appealing. Invariably they bring the story to a grinding halt as the author spends a multitude of paragraphs (or more) on an act that contributes little or nothing to either character or plot. It may be important to make the reader understand there has been sex between certain characters, but whether it’s necessary to describe it in detail is often questionable. Moreover, the truth is that sex scenes are invariably poorly written. Some of the best writers do an execrable job of describing sex — maybe because it often seems so awkward and unnatural on the written page.

    There’s nothing wrong with sex — Hey, we wouldn’t be here without it! — but these days I feel it’s too often a part of many books simply as a means of titillation. Sex sells. You only have to look at FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY and its sequels to see that. Indeed, one might argue that the inclusion of sex (or more sex) in novels these days has much to do with E.L.James’ roaring success. With incomes for writers declining steadily, many may feel pushed to do everything they can to entice as many readers as possible to their books. (Of course, graphic sex in a book isn’t a guarantee it’s going to be a bestseller, but the cynical side of me can’t help but feel many writers use it with the explicit aim of boosting sales.)

    There’s also the social side to consider, and the fact that on the whole society has become much more comfortable and open about sex and sexuality. What was once considered risqué (or even taboo) now barely registers on most people’s radars. Nudity, for example, once unheard of on television, now pops up all over the place on the dial. So one might validly argue that sex in YA novels is merely a reflection of the world around us. Whether that makes it necessary to include it in novels (particularly at a graphic level) is debatable.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t mind sex in YA since some teens are having it and it makes sense to discuss that, though I think explicit scenes aren’t really necessary. I always find those awkward, like I’m looking at something that ought to be private. That being said, I think you’re right that there is a troubling tendency to make sex the culmination of a relationship or the main goal. It’s like, now that the characters have slept together, everything else is meaningless. But sex doesn’t necessarily equal romance. I’d rather see two characters build a meaningful relationship with each other, get to know each other, love each other, rather than see them tumble into bed immediately like that’s all that matters.

    But you can be attracted to a person and not, actually, be good together as a couple. But books don’t often address that. Or, if they do, they act like it’s no big deal. But not everyone can have sex that’s not-awkward and totally consequence-free. Books tend to act like everyone’s sleeping around and having a glorious time with no emotional entanglements or risks of catching a disease or getting pregnant, unless it’s an “issue” book. That’s not real life.

    And it would be nice to see more representation of characters who are choosing not to sleep around–but who aren’t depicted as prudes or freaks of nature. The Guttmacher Institute says that from 2011-2013, 44% of females and 49% of males from 15-19 reported having sex. That means half of teens or slightly over are NOT having sex. But the media makes it look like everyone’s doing it and something is wrong with you if you aren’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think a good combinations of YA books with sex and without it makes sense. I think there’s been a trend towards adding sex because YA is becoming “more open” to things like that, but I also think just throwing it into every book ever isn’t necessary. If it’s not really plot relevant or character development relevant or whatever, don’t add it just because you can.

    I know that YA books marked 12+ are supposed to be “cleaner” while those marked 14+ are supposed to be more likely to have sex, if that helps anyone. However, I think you make a good point that there’s a wide variety in books that “have sex.” I mean, that’s anything from a line that says “And then they had sex” to full-on chapters long sex scenes. And some people might want one thing and not the other.

    I do think, in a different world, ACOTAR could have been marketed as adult fiction. The thing is that Maas’s fan base is YA readers, So I get why the publisher chose to do it. But it doesn’t necessarily read like YA to me. The protagonist is a little too old, the sex scenes are frequent and explicit, and the writing in general seems more like an adult book to me.

    I will say I like the way sex is handled in Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books. There’s the acknowledgement that, yeah, some teens are having sex, but there’s a thoughtful explanation of what that means and what some of the consequences might be.

    Liked by 2 people

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