General, The Selection

YA and Porn

I did a live show last Friday, and, I have to say, I had a blast. I wore an awesome hat, gave out lots of goodies, and read the first page of The Selection! Sharing ANY piece of The Selection fills me with absolute glee, so that was probably the highlight for me. However, it seems the thing that stuck with my viewers the most was a random answer to a great question.

Someone asked how I felt about the opinion that YA literature gives girls unrealistic expectations of love.

I said: Porn gives boys unrealistic expectations of sex, so.

Yeah, I just compared YA to porn, but let me back up a bit.

I’m writing a book about a prince. A prince that lives in a society where people are assigned social standings. These levels are nearly impossible to break out of; no matter how hard you work, it doesn’t matter. There are rebels and riots and uncertainty. There are glamorous parties and gorgeous dresses and at the end of it all, one of these thirty-five girls gets to be a princess.

In real life, that’s not going to happen. You know this, right?

Also what never happens in real life: The pizza delivery girl comes in and compliments your apartment, saying the bedroom must be huge. You take her back to show her, and she decides the best thing to do is rip off her clothes! Then you touch her one time, she’s filled with ecstasy, and you are a sex god.

Nope. Not in a million years, bucko. Not even close.

It’s all fiction! As long as you know this, you should be alright in life.

Now, I’m not dismissing YA literature as the teenage girl’s equivalent to porn. That’s not AT ALL what I mean. Pornography isn’t creative. Wait! Do you count sex in a cowboy outfit instead of an astronaut outfit as creative? Cause then, maybe it…  nah, still not creative. And what’s more, porn can be incredibly detrimental, particularly when we are taught to seek something glossy and immediate as opposed to working on true intimacy with the people in our actual lives.

But books? When Laurie Hales Anderson talks about rape and recovery in Speak or the addictiveness of eating disorders in Winter Girls, it affects you. Even if those issues have never touched your life, it changes you, and it changes your feelings towards people who have dealt with these things.

Or if you want to look at books actually talking about love and sex, what about The DUFF by Kody Keplinger? It’s complicated, it’s messy, it’s painful. Or Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The ache of how difficult love was in that book tore at my heart.

Furthermore, for all the crap Twilight gets about sparkly vamp chests and half-naked wereboys, there’s a lot to be said for how that whole series deals with the feelings of wanting someone completely unattainable, a feeling I had through pretty much all of high school and college. And then it touches on a whole range of issues that loving someone can cause. Does choosing this person mean losing my parent’s approval? Does it mean choosing between them and my friends? Is that something I’m willing to risk? Is it really worth it? Am I being dumb? These are all great questions to ask ourselves! The sparkly vamp chests are merely a bonus!

Actually, as I think through all the YA books I’ve read, I’m trying to think of one that genuinely dismisses love as something easy to acquire, something simple and over-the-top perfect all the time… and I can’t think of single freaking one.

So maybe I’m seriously wrong. YA literature is not like porn. Porn is lame, and our books kick ass.