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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Respecting Those that Take a Stand

Statistically, 46.8% of all high school kids have had sex before they graduate.

Judging from movies, books, and TV shows, you would think it was 100%.

What about the other 53.2%? Who writes books, movies, and TV shows for them?

Yesterday, I read a blog. I can't remember which blog it was, so if it was yours, speak up! But this blog mentioned how it almost seems to be required in YA literature to have the 16+ aged kids having sex.

Why is that?

Why is it that movies show everyone living together? Okay, lots of people do. WE GET THAT. But not EVERYBODY does.

In my books, some kids are having sex and some kids are not. Kind of like real life.

Why does the media make fun of the kids that are not having sex? Like they aren't having sex because they are plain, ugly, socially inept, rather than because maybe they don't want to.

We should respect other people. Especially if they are willing to take a stand against something popular. That's respectable.

When I was in high school, there was a girl in my class that was a member of a strict religious group. I'd known her since elementary school, actually. She wasn't allowed to cut her hair or wear make-up, get contacts, or wear pants or short skirts.

This girl was nothing short of AMAZING.

I didn't share her religious beliefs. But I didn't ever think of her as crazy or fanatical. I admired her ability to live what she believed. She was a beautiful girl who knew how to carry herself. She was very smart and very kind. To this day, I honor her and what she stood for.

So. Who's writing books about girls that are smart and sexy and beautiful and not having sex? Who's making movies about kids that go to class and have fun at football games and don't drink?

I don't know about the movies part, but I'm doing my part with the books. This is my stand. To portray life the way it REALLY is. Not the way Hollywood thinks it is.

Sequel revisions:
today's goal: 112/169
actual: 112/171
tomorrow's goal: page 122/171

18 comments:

Vicky said...

I wrote a blog a few days ago talking about how people have the right to write about teen sex if they want. This branched from a million conversations about Gossip Girl and censorship, but just as I think it's okay to write about sex, I think you're right and that people should be able to write about the other side of the truth- that some girls don't have sex. I know in high school and now (it's not like it's been that long since I got out of high school. 3 months) in college, a lot of people freak when they hear that I'm a virgin. It's not because I can't and it's not because I haven't had offers. Rather, it's because I took a vow of abstinence. I think you're definitely right and we should definitely be writing that truth. However, we can't generalize. Today, not all TV shows and books have teens having sex. There are some out there that speak truth. You just have to find them.

Sara ♥ said...

That is a wonderful stand to take :)

At this moment in time, my MC hasn't had sex and she's not a drinker... There's definitely sexual tension there, but I don't think she's made up her mind about what she thinks about it.

IF she does end up having sex, the one thing I will make sure of is that it's her decision and that it did NOT come about because of any pressure.

I always admired people in high school who didn't succumb to drinking pressure, but still were social.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

It would be awesome if you happen to have a list of those movies/books! I haven't come across any movies. Like, ZERO. I don't want to watch them all trying to find one. So if you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

As for books, that's a bit easier. Especially if you delve into the realms of sci-fi and fantasy. But I've only found one in normal high school fiction. So again--if you have a list, I'd love to have it! Or anytime you read a book, see a movie where not all the cool characters are having sex, please share!

I had simply resigned myself to the fact that there weren't any. I love finding out I'm wrong.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Sara--again, some kids have sex! That's life. One of my MCs (a boy) is kind of, well, a horny boy! In book 3 (this might be majorly giving things away, hopefully no one will remember in three years!), another MC (a girl) makes the decision that she wants to have sex. Her best friend does not. Much as it was in high school between me and my best friend. And it wasn't b/c I was an ugly looser.

JennyMac said...

I hope someone will write those books...it is amazing how sexually advanced todays teen are because it seems trendy to be that way. Our social fabric is leading young people, both young men and women, a bit astray. Gossip Girl might be an interesting show(I have never seen it) but its hardly the template we should see encouraged. Thoughtful post.

Jordan said...

(I think it was LDS Publisher that posted about it.)

Tamika: said...

Raising two daughters this is very critical for me. Just today we were in Walmart trying to buy a book for my tween (10yr old) daughter. Every book she picked up was sexually explicit or talking about being drunk on the first page.

I am very disappointed.

Aaron and Emily said...

Hollywood just contributes to the problem. The problem being, that people are so influenced by the media, that they really do think it is the norm. So they think "oh everyone's drinking and having sex. It's normal." I actually had a friend in high school tell me that he was planning on drinking while he was in high school so that he would be "prepared for college" since everyone in college drinks. I think ideas like this must come from the media. Yes, alot of kids have sex, but you are right Tamara, Hollywood makes it sound like only 1 percent are abstinent.

I think, as one of your commenters said, if you "just have to find" those media that speak the truth, then it is pretty sad that we have to Try to find them. Because it means that it is much easier to find shows about sex, and difficult to find ones that don't include it. That definently sends the wrong message to teens.

I think that Disney channel has shows that are about kids that don't have sex, like Wizards of Waverly Place, and Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, I think those shows are written for a younger audience? Not sure.

Heavenly Muse said...

sometimes it happens that fiction just drifts us away from reality and real life starts seeming difficult for us.So it is really necessary at certain place not to let go the real facts of life.

Diggestive said...

Very well said

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Em, you are right. Disney shows movies in a very innocent way. I find it...refreshing. Yet it is obviously written for a younger audience, as everyone is innocent.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Amen to that, girl! I totally agree. I write YA and I will not write about sex in my books. For one, I would be embarrassed if the people who know me to read it. (I am the gospel doctrine teacher in my church, after all).

I also want to write in a way that kids know values are more important than venereal diseases.

Laurel said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I found you thru the Constant Revision blog (my pal Simon).

I'm wondering how this stereotype got so much traction in the first place, especially in books. Frankly, the kids who read are usually the ones who DON'T fit the stereotypical libertine teen portrait--they get good grades, hang out with friends drinking Sprite and decaf lattes and bubble tea, and have extremely high standards for anyone they'd date. Putting out is for insecure girls, in their minds.

I sometimes wonder if publishers know these kids who actually buy books, and if so, do they see literature mostly a vehicle for readers to live vicariously? To see the world through the eyes of the bad girl, watch her crash and burn and walk away thankful they're not as stupid?

I'm trying to write for kids like my bookworm teen friends, focusing on other tough things about being a teen, like shifting family relationships, trying to individuate, learning how the adult world really works, coping with the pressure to excel at everything, figuring out your place in the world and taking steps toward getting there. Here's hoping I don't have to stick a beer in my MC's hand to get my story in print. :-)

Laurel said...

Here are a few good ones I've read lately in which the characters keep their pants on:

Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
The Taker by J.M. Steele
The Queen Geek Social Club, Queen Geeks in Love by Laura Preble
The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It by Lisa Shanahan
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora

Monique Bucheger said...

I am reading alot of blogs lately and this is the first one I feel compelled to respond to. I agree completely that the majority of kids who want to read quality books without sex are underrepresented. I am a new LDS writer who is just learning about the publishing world and have high hopes that my books can be enjoyed without stooping to worldy stereotypes. Since I strive to write uplifting, funny books about life as a tween/teen, I hope the young people who aren't having sex will enjoy my books and can relate to my characters, because they are living their lives without having sex either. I know that there are teens in my ward who are having sex, but hopefully I am not being naive and hoping they are the minority. I know some who regret having had sex and others who don't care who knows. Mostly I see young men and women who want to live the gospel standards and be guided around the pitfalls of today's media.
I think it's important to show the other side of life that most LDS youth enjoy: trials and blessings with free agency without the added burden of drugs, alcohol and sex to muddy the murky and shallow waters of adolescents.
For the record, Disney is succumbing to the world though thankfully at a slower rate. I am a huge fan of Disney productions, but I find I am disappointed with the newer writers who don't adhere to Walt's stricter standards.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Laurel--HUGE thanks for that list! I will definitely be checking those books out! I'm also glad you stopped by. Always great to meet new people. And you're right. Have they even checked the demographic?

Monique--I think you have a very realistic, open-eyed view of things. You know it's happening. but it's not everyone. We can't pretend it's not out there, that would be almost (but not) as bad as pretending like it's everywhere. I hope you can reach people.

I can tell this is going to be a huge soap box issue for me for awhile.

LMJ said...

I grew up in a very conservative community in Texas. Teen pregnancy was still a shocker. Girls who got pregnant were not allowed to walk among us because they set a bad example. Sure, there were teens having sex, but unlike in other schools, they would not admit it because of the whole mentality about premarital sex. Now, times have changed.

laurel said...

Tamara, glad to be of service. I'm thankful to have found another like-minded YA writer when it comes to the purity issue. Keep preachin' it. :-)

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