This article has been haunting me since I read it a couple weeks ago. It’s about a début YA novel by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, Firsts, about a girl who sleeps with young virgin males and teaches them about sex so they can turn around and give their own girlfriends a good first time. Sound ridiculous? Well, it certainly is, and the sad thing is that it’s not really new in YA “literature” and it’s marketed as a “realistic” novel and not as a comedy.
I got the sense that the publishers of YA novels were peddling their own “progressive” worldview around the time I started reading Vivian Apple at the End of the World awhile back. Publishers are always crying about how we need more diversity and more realism in YA literature. Every time I pick up Writer’s Digest, I see at least one article about the need for “diversity.” That diversity can come in the form of including characters of different races/ethnicities, different sexual orientations, different family lives… etc. The publishers want this diversity to be a reflection of reality, but it flies in the face of any reality I have ever seen. And apparently that “diversity” has extended to characters’ sex lives. Apparently, we’ve grown tired of the vanilla male-and-female-in-exclusive-relationship sex scenes in traditional romance novels and even in much of YA.
Yes, it is true that teenagers are having sex. It is true that sex is constantly pushed to teenagers via their own hormones and popular entertainment: the Internet, TV shows, music and music videos, movies, and YA novels. Yes, sex is a reality of life, but as I’ve said before on this blog, sex is probably the greatest creative power that human beings possess, and with great power comes great responsibility. It isn’t something to be casual about, especially when you’re 16, 17, or even 18.
I can only hope that Firsts is actually a cautionary tale about the dangers of promiscuity, and I can only hope that teenagers are smart enough to see it for its supposed moral: “judge not, lest ye be judged” and not for the route by which the author chooses to arrive at that moral. After all, a judgmental bigot is supposedly the worst possible thing one can be nowadays, but that’s a post for another day.