Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inconceivable: The Teen Sex Issue

There are a lot of places where I anticipate the topic of teens having or not having sex to be brought up. It comes with YA writer territory. However, one place I did not expect to hear about it was midway through a training webinar at my office.  The speaker was discussing spousal waivers and prenuptial agreements. I work in Retirement Benefits (Please dont' be bored, I promise this post deals with sex.) Basically, you can't waive spousal rights until you are a spouse, so any mention of it in the prenup is pointless.

The speaker possessed a dramatic flair and had a voice that reminded me of Wallace Shawn, who plays Vizzini in The Princess Bride. He summarized the rule by saying, "You cannot consent until you say I do, and you can tell that to your teenagers."

A few people chuckled. Some rolled their eyes.

I was distracted from the training and got to thinking about sex in young adult fiction. A benefits webinar was not the appropriate place for the Vizzini impersonator to make public his opinion on teen sex this blog is ideal for me to weigh in with my opinion on the very controversial issue of fictitious teens having sex.

It is my job to tell the story as honestly as possible. If a story I am writing involves sex, I will include it. If it doesn't, I won't force it onto the page. I don't include graphic descriptions of it, that's just not my style. The point is, sex happens in YA and I don't see the point in taking it out to please anyone else.

Sex is generally relevant in young adult fiction because it is always present in the lives of teenagers. Having it, not having it, thinking about whether or not they are having it and why; it is going to be there no matter the main character's stance.

In a lot of ways, sex is just like profanity in whatever story you are telling. Stephen King advises not to censor your character because they will come across to the reader as censored and false. And nobody makes a connection with that kind of character. Be honest to your characters and yourself.

What do you think, is sex in YA inconceivable?


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