Google+ Reading Teen: Movies, Books, and Teen Sex

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Movies, Books, and Teen Sex

While looking up some of the books I was reading, I came across a blog from a writer whose book I really liked. In the blog, she had a guest writer one day. She was another author, of other teen books. The title of the post was "movies and sex". I actually had my hopes up, because the book I read that led me to this blog was unusually clean for a teen/ya book. What I read there just crushed me.  The gist of it was that as a society we see guys that have sex with multiple girls as normal or even cool, but we see girls who have sex with multiple guys as sluts.  Her solution to this problem?  We need more movies and books where girls have unapologetic sex with whomever they want and are praised for it, and don’t suffer any upsetting consequences.

What???  What is this?  What kind of sense does this make?  Have you ever heard the phrase "Two wrongs don't make a right?"  

I know, many of you will say that teens are having sex, that's just the way it is.  So movies and books should reflect what real life is about.  But the thing is, not all teens are having sex, and constantly saying that they all are, makes those who choose to wait feel even more alone.  Even those who think that teen sex is ok, can't possibly argue that choosing to wait isn't ok.  So why is teen sex pushed so much in the media?  Especially in the wake of the growing number of teens that are getting STD's and thirty-somethings that are now finding that they can't have children because they had an STD as a teen.  

Studies have shown that teens who are exposed to a lot of sexual content in the media are more than twice as likely to have sex by the age of 14-16.  Many would say that teens should be able to have sex as long as it's safe.  We're finding out, however, that "safe sex" is more of an illusion than a reality.  Most teens’, and even parents’ biggest concern with teen sex is the possibility of pregnancy.  But, I’ve got news for you….you can survive pregnancy.  You may not survive an STD.  Even using protection doesn't truly protect you from many STDs.  And these diseases are causing teens, especially girls, to have major health problems in the future, some of the biggest being sterility, cervical cancer and, of course, HIV. 

When having these conversations, someone inevitably says, “Well, they’re hearing it all and seeing it all at school anyway, so what difference does it make?”  This may be true, but in my opinion that’s even more reason that when they come home they shouldn’t be bombarded with even more sexually explicit material. 

So, what do you think?  If you’re a teen. do you feel pressured by the media to have sex?  If you’re a parent, how much influence do you think the media has on teens and sex?


If you're a parent who's interested in knowing what's in the books your teen is reading, check out


  1. Great Topic-
    I agree that YA is getting overboard with the casual sex message- It seems the media and culture target younger and younger teens. Nobody talks about STD's or the emotionial damage that sex can cause. Why is it wrong to teach kids to wait? It seems lately if you say -wait- your labeled an out of touch old person.

  2. Good point! As a teen librarian, I have teens in here all the time whose parents are wanting them to read good books without the sex. It is sometimes hard to find books that the teens want to read without casual sex. They want to read what their peers are reading, but because of the content in so many of the books their parents won't let them. Some of the teens themselves don't want to read that, but almost every popular book I pick up these days seems to feature sex. When I do find one, I want to jump for joy because that is one book that won't disappoint these teens and their parents. I wish the publishers would turn away from the casual sex aspect of teen novels. In many cases it seems unnecessary and too casual. There is no such thing as casual sex!

  3. I think a lot of parents are too okay with the way the world is changing and basically 'go with the flow'. As you point out there are many dangerous consequences. I do think that media has a large part in the way kids and parents are thinking, but I also think that parents have a lot to do with it also. Along with them being 'okay' with the changing world, a lot of parents are also just 'too busy' to take the time to learn the issues themselves in order to teach their kids.

  4. I agree, completely! I think parents need to be more involved with what's going on in their teen's life. Even if they approve, they need to know what they're watching and reading so that they know what to discuss with their child. One of the big problems I'm finding with YA lit is that parents have no idea that the teen books have this stuff in them, and there is no rating or disclosure of any kind on the books....

  5. I've always wondered why it was such a bad thing to appreciate teens that decided to wait. Like it's a bad thing. I, unfortunately, didn't wait, and ended up pregnant at 18. A hard life for a teenager. I'm not sure why the media wants to encourage teen sex so badly. Except that they think it sells better. I think you can have just as much success with love stories where the teens do wait.

  6. The reason the media wants to sell sex to teenage females is because it's part of the 3rd feminism. I've been studying about this! The 2nd wave of feminists (the baby-boomer generation) were against pornography because it degrades women. However, int he early 1990s the 3rd wave of feminism hit wher women began saying, "I can be as sexual as a man. Sexual power is good for women, there I will be pornographic and lude because it's my choice and my power.

    It's a destructive message!! They are so decieved! They may FEEL like it's thier choice, but their still being used and degraded.

    And when I say "pornographic" I don't just mean porn-I think all media has become pornogrpahic.

  7. I'm a parent and a writer. I think teens get way too much wrong information and stimulation thru the media,esp. about sex and violence. Kids see so much of both and of both together that there is more and more dating violence. I think it's wonderful for kids to abstain from sex when they're young, but these days, it's very tough.

  8. This was a great post! Very informative and if we can do one thing for our children/teens is keep this topic open and out in the home for all to share. I have five children and anyone of mine can come to their father or me and talk about sex in the open, ask questions and we will give honest answer.Noone walking away confused. The more open you are with your children about this subject, the less they will hide from you.
    I had to learn about sex through peers and tv. My parents were raised thinking if you told your kids it was evil (sex) and never mentioned it again, all is good with the world. Well, let me just say they were wrong.

  9. I also got pregnant as a teen and I wish that there had been more people talk to me about not having sex. I think the media did play a part, but I would say the biggest reason I ended up having sex was because I started drinking. When I drank, I didn't care anymore about things that I cared about before. This (drinking/drugs) is another thing that is really prevalent in YA lit and tv/movies. Authors act like it's no big deal, and they throw around drinking and sex and parties like they're nothing and no consequences come from them. This just isn't reality. There are alway consequences to these things, and teens aren't old enough to understand them or deal with them.

  10. I don't feel pressured to have sex, though most of the sex talk comes from other kids. At least, that's what it's like where I live. I don't watch a lot of television aimed specifically at people my age because it's *ahem* complete and utter crap.

    I think teen sex shouldn't be the sole focus of YA literature, but removing it completely isn't a good idea either. Sex happens, just like death and drugs. We can have those in YA lit, so sex shouldn't be excluded either. It needs to be handled delicately, I think, but if we completely take out this sort of thing then we run the risk of creating YA that is sterilised, boring and completely unrealistic.

    The books I tend to read often have sex in them, but it's more implied than anything and happens between consenting romantic partners who have been together for a reasonable amount of time. Even more "loose" characters like Rose Hathaway in Vampire Academy don't go around having casual sex.

    It's all in the handling of the subject matter.

  11. Great post.
    As an editor, all I can say is that it has nothing to do with our personal beliefs. Many of us are supporters of abstinence until marriage (at the least, the vast majority will confess that the first time is something special, to be shared with the "right" person).
    Want to see more abstinence in YA novels? Writers, here's your challenge. Come up with stories that are fun to read, with characters we enjoy spending time with. Don't make the whole book about NOT having sex... that's no more fun to read than a book about NOT sky-diving. In real life, people who hang on to their virginity don't do so by constantly obsessing about not having sex; they jam-pack their days with activity and meaningful relationships. Let them laugh, let them love, even let them desire... then show just how attractive restraint can be.
    I'd love to see where you take the story.

  12. This is a fabulous post. Thanks so much for sharing this perspective. April's point about the 3rd wave of feminism is so interesting to me. It's a spin off of the 80s mentality of "we can do everything men can do" which buys into the concept that men are better and we need to measure ourselves against the standard they set rather than suggesting that we are entitled to set our own standard.

  13. Also, @ Steve. I might just give that a try on book #3.

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