Jackhammering the Hymen (Pet Peeve #2)

I like Young Adult Novels. They teleport me back to an age of innocence and possibilities. Along with TV cop shows, singing along to Miley and Brittney in the car, and eating chocolate, reading YA is one of my not-so-secret guilty pleasures.

My pet peeve with YA's is the inevitable scene where the culmination of teenaged angst and playing hard to get results in the main character swooning into the arms of the handsome bad-boy love interest and losing her virginity to him.

Now let's be honest, these books are fiction. They're not realistic in many ways, including the intuitive nature of seventeen year old boys, but the area I find them most unrealistic is in the bedroom.

The deeply knowledgeable and skilled love interest will ruthlessly demolish the innocence of the main character...and she'll LOVE it. Some, the sensitive and considerate boys, will briefly pause and ask if she's okay, but the scene will predictably result in him jackhammering his way to the center of the world through her womb. There will be a brief shock of pain, then overwhelming heat, a screaming release, possibly stars and meeting of souls, and at some point a bed may or may not be broken.

Think I'm over exaggerating?

It happened in Twilight (bed broken), the Trylle Series (bed also broken), and even in 50 Shades, admittedly not a YA novel, but based on one, Christian Grey battered down the barrier with the finesse normally reserved for a wrecking ball.

You might be asking, "so what? It's fiction. It's a fantasy. What's your beef?"

I'll tell you what my beef is! I teach young adults. That's my day job. Despite their snarky attitude, sometimes pungent body odour and expression of personalities through various hair colour and body piercings, their minds are still young and impressionable. They're sweet and vulnerable, but think they're mature and grown-up. They read all the YA novels and yes, even 50 Shades.

While I'm still peeved to read these "Cherry Popping" scenes in adult romance novels, it doesn't bother me as much as the almost identical ones in the YA books. These scenes will leave a lot of the more vulnerable teenagers with a skewed perception of what it's going to be like to lose their virginity, or to take someone's. They don't necessarily have a slew of life experience to use as a "bullshit" guide to determine which fantasy is, well, just that--a fantasy, and which stories are more gritty and realistic. What kind of expectations are they going to have walking into the bedroom? And what's going to happen when the reality doesn't match the fantasy? They're going to think, as all teenagers do when they don't "match up", that there's something WRONG with them.

And I hate that. Being pubescent is hard enough. They don't need an extra trigger.

That's my beef.

What's yours?

Comments

  1. I'll comment on your blog instead of my pet peeve - cause, well the list is just too long and I can rant for far too many pages.
    With 3 girls (now 16, 17 & 19), I was totally afraid of the glamorized cherry popping books, so when they were younger I read many of the YA books BEFORE I passed them along to the girls. The 16 year old no longer reads (insert sad sigh here), and the 17 year old has moved on to adult books but of the 3, I trust her judgement the most. And of course, I'm now left addicted to YA books!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Charlotte. I love your story on how you became addicted to YA. At least I'm not the only adult who is! I still remember my parents ripping out the "adult" scenes from the Clan of the Cave Bear because they felt I was too young to read them. They were right, of course, but that didn't stop me from swapping books with a friend to get a chance to read the forbidden fruit!

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    2. This is a great pet peeve, and one rarely talked about. Giving young, impressionable minds a false image of something so important as their 'first time' is wrong. It could not only be damaging to their interpretation of sex, but once they're letdown is over, leave with a damaging self image. So much is rested on a person's 'first time', it lays out how they perceive sex, how they perceive themselves as sexual beings, so in part. We as writers, while entertaining, should be responsible enough to be honest. Mathair was always brutally honest with me and my brother and we're eternally grateful for it.

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    3. Too right, and this is an important topic for discussion. I've got my parent's hat on here, not my author's hat. All romance novels are fantasy to some extent and readers are complicit in the fantasy. But teenagers don't have the life experience to distinguish reality and fantasy. I worry about the availability of porn and its effect on young minds. It's sad to hear about a young girls pressurised into taking their bra off in front of a webcam, because "everybody does it".As parents, all we can do is keep talking to our kids. I could never walk the tightrope of writing for young adults, but I agree that YA authors ought to be more responsible.

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    4. Inion - Thank you for stopping by and joining the discussion. I completely agree. Way too much is rested on the first time and knowing that teenagers are getting this misleading interpretation of sex is upsetting to me. That being said, I think it's hard for some writers to be honest in this aspect because it's fiction. There's that fine balance between being honest and providing the escapism so many of us crave in our books, including young adults.

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    5. Madeleine - Thank you also for stopping by and commenting. The 'everybody does it' pressure is infuriating to watch play out. When students go off the deep end, agonizing about all the things other people are doing, I tell them not to worry about others, a lot of it is a lie anyway, focus on yourself, etc, etc, but it doesn't make it any easier for them and it's one thing to hear it and another to believe it. I'm just thankful I'm out of the age where everything revolved around me and I couldn't see outside the little bubble of High School.

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    6. Love this discussion, J.C. I write both YA and adult romances. When I started writing teen books, I didn't want to have sex scenes in the stories. I wanted it to be about adventure, romance, mystery, murder, another world, humor, but not about sex. Not everything has to be.

      Ironically, I have a number of teen readers who read my wolf series, that I do have a lot of sex in, but they are for adults! And adults who love my fae series.

      I was shocked to see some of the sex--some of it near rape in paranormal YA by paranormal entities, as if that's okay--in some of the teen stories, but I continue to write mine without. I might never have a big seller like Twilight's sales, but it's what I write and I love it.

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    7. Great blog post! This has always been one of my pet peeves; glad to know it bothers others too! I think I was lucky when I was a teen, because, while my parents never restricted my reading choices, they did sit me down and have a frank discussion about how real sex isn't remotely like it's portrayed in these novels, that most people's first times are pretty crappy, but that sex gets better with practice, like everything else! At the time, I remember blushing and rolling my eyes and trying to cover my ears, but actually, their words stuck with me, and I think gave me a healthier perspective on fiction and life. As a writer, my WIP is for adults, not YA, but I'm still trying to make the sex scenes realistic from a women's perspective. I've found a few YA authors who do make the effort to write realistic "first time" scenes, and I think they're really brave and refreshing.

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    8. Terry - I think it's commendable that you're not caving to what I see as the current trend in YA. The traits you listed for YA are exactly what I feel YA should be about as well. That's awesome.

      And yes, some of the scenes I've read are pretty intense, borderline rape and it's setting a precedent that normalizes this sort of interaction. NOT OKAY!!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :-)

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    9. Ruth - We are not alone and I'm glad! It gives my faith in the human race and sometimes...sometimes I really have issues with our global society. I love how your parents sat you down for the frank conversation. I think in 10-12 years when my son gets to the appropriate age, we'll do the same thing. Sex isn't something I feel should be censored, but I agree there needs to be an open, honest dialogue about it between parents and their children. I think realistic sex scenes are refreshing, too, and how the characters react to them make them more authentic.

      Thank you for adding to the discussion. :-)

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  2. Something not mentioned- children are sexually abused. Sad, but true. To read this kind of violence in a fantasy world they run to for escape from the real horrors they've lived through can only be a more damaging than pleasurable reading experience for them. Some might say they shouldn't read romance then...why should they be left out of a wonderful world because some authors prefer jackhammering over sensual respect between partners? And do those kids realize what is in the book before they read it? I didn't know Twilight's scene would be so brutal before I got to that scene. I still wonder how Bella, a mere human virgin, survived.

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    1. Calisa - Thank you for bringing this up. I taught a lot of at-risk youth and some of them sadly had been abused. I also think of these poor souls when I think of my "pet peeve." These individuals deserve more than anyone else to have a happily ever after, and often the case is that they've been set up in life to not get one. It takes a lot to overcome the abuse after it has ended (if it's ended). If anything, they should be able to escape into a book and at least read a happily ever after without having to read borderline BDSM scenes that get the main character shrieking with pleasure. How are they supposed to relate, and what does that do to their ability to rebuild their self esteem and self worth???

      Excellent point Calisa, and thank you for adding it to the discussion.

      P.S. I also wondered how Bella survived, but she was special, after all, wasn't she?

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  3. I agree so much with what you're saying. And I totally agree with the romanticized notion of what a first time is like. And with that old addage that with boys any sex is great, even when it's bad. That's a crock. I don't think the emotional repercussions for young men are portrayed nearly enough. Those insecurities about how they've performed and body image is just as painful as the girls discomfort that first time. And that the emotional attachment is what makes things come together physically as it should. I'm so glad you're venting about this. Excellent post!!

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    1. Teresa - Thank you! And you bring up another excellent point. There's such a double standard in our society, and I agree with you. Men often get neglected when it comes to emotional issues, such as the ones you mentioned.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  4. Great post, difficult subject. I don't read YA, but I can attest to reading enough adult-audience "deflowering" scenes to make me sigh when I start another one. Was anyone's first time all that and a bag of chips?

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    1. LOL. I agree. I definitely don't recall a bag of chips... Thanks for stopping by and commenting Keely!

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  5. You tell it! Great post. For me, I hate when something bad happens to the heroine because she gave it up. Like she learns a major lessen for trusting a boy ;-( (because, you know, she's BAD).

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    1. Thanks Louisa! I'm glad you liked it.

      I agree with you. Stories like that send the inherent message that sex is bad; that the heroine deserved karmic punishment or asked for trouble because she did "the dirty." And I don't agree with that at all

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    2. And thanks for stopping by to comment. I'm looking forward to host you as my guest blogger on March 21st!

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