Monday, 15 July 2013

Call me a Mother Grundy but . . .

I have decide to join a new weekly meme, so welcome to my first . . . 

Musing Mondays hosted by MIzB asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Booking Musing?
 Sex and bad language in books loosely labeled Young Adult and New Adult. 
I know by writing this post, I'm laying myself open to accusations of being a Mother Grundy. Oh well, my shoulders are broad, (far too broad given that I've put on about ten kilos recently), so I can take it.

Now, I know how liberating Fifty Shades was for very many people, knocking the pornography versus art debate out of the corner and into the ring. But, sadly, Fifty Shades has not only 'liberated' adult fiction. It has also torn the lid off all literature. It's now okay to write detailed descriptions of sexual encounters in books aimed at a younger audience that a year ago would have been taboo. In the Young Adult genre most us love, we have now even had to accommodate a new sub category to cope with the sex and language. We call it New Adult - and boy oh boy, it seems that just about anything goes in some New Adult.

I've just finished reading two New Adult books - I won't mention the names because I don't want them to sell more copies. One was set in Paris with two horny college students and one was in a high school. Honestly, after reading them I came away shell-shocked. The language and sexual descriptions were just OTT. (Over The Top for those unfamilar with the acronym) Back in 1914 when the term OTT was coined (and from when my values obviously date) going OTT meant getting your head shot off. Today, OTT in YA and NA literature just means more book sales. Sorry, but I'm not buying it. Somewhere a line must be drawn.

Yes, human beings of all ages have sex and use bad language. In fact, in some places in South Africa (thankfully not in my neighbourhood) parents send their daughters (often as young as six) to school wearing female condoms because rape is so prevalent. Even babies as young as six months frequently hit the headlines due to brutal rapes. So I really get the concept that sex is part of life. All one can hope is that sex can also be a normal part of life. One where children are protected. 

And that is where my moan comes in. When does it become acceptable to expose children (and I include most teenagers in that category) to sexual activity? For me it's marriage. For you it may be something else. But does that mean we have to titillate the rising generation with moans and thrusts in the books they read? Do we have to turn every romance into a how-quickly-can-I-get-into-a-compromising-situation-with-him event?

I know many of you will disagree with me. I may even see a drop in my readership. You might even shout at me in the comments, telling me to get real or to change my reading habits. All that is cool. You are entitled to your opinion, just as I'm entitled to mine. And my opinion is that I'm tired of feeling I need a brain flush after reading YA or NA books loaded with foul language and explicit sex. I read this genre precisely because I want to avoid those things. And it really ticks me off that it's becoming harder and harder to find great reads that don't descend into sex and profanity to sell stories. And the truth is, explicit sex isn't necessary to create a bestseller. Think about The Hunger Games, The Iron Fey series, Through the Ever Night series, Divergent, Throne of Glass, The Emperor's Edge  . . .  the list goes on. So why do authors do it?

Oh well, maybe I'm showing my age or my 1914 values. But that's me. But in my heart, I honestly believe that I'm not the only woman out there who feels this way. Or am I? Maybe it's time to weigh in on the debate. Please leave a comment, I'd love to know your views.


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