What is the target demographic for this book? Am I too old to be reading this? Regardless, I’m also uncomfortable with the idea of pre-teen or early teens reading this. Why are these descriptions of teenagers having sex so graphic? Amongst others, these were the main thoughts that went through my head as I read 2/3 of this book ( I could not finish it).
I was reminded of this much-debated discourse prevalent among social commentary YouTubers about the weird obsession adults in media have with teenagers’ sex lives. I mean most young adult’s tv shows past and present include storylines (actually these are the driving storylines) with teenagers and sex. Is it really necessary for teenagers to be sexualized this much?
I understand the importance of reflecting on true experiences that may/do occur to many teenagers. However, there are also sources that show that teenagers are not leading as much of a sexualized life as depicted in tv. I’m not here to slut shame, I truly hope my words are not interpreted that way. I do support safe and healthy sex for all people and find actual sexual education as important as the next. Those conversations do need to occur.
What I do find an issue with is the constant saturation and depictions in the media with sexualized teens. It’s not reflective of all, and I want to (and wish there were more stories that did) make it clear that it’s completely normal if your life is not reflective of a Gossip Girl character. It’s okay if you’re 15,16, 17, 20 something, shoot whatever age and still haven’t had a sexual experience. Young people are not just individuals with crazy hormones just focused on the next sexual/romantic encounter. And even if so, it is much deeper than that. And even if not, it is completely normal.
There are only a few shows like Sex Education and The Sex Lives of College Girls (by my favorite Mindy Kaling) which tackle sex in young people’s lives in an authentic way. Where it is not a spectacle for viewers, an insert of sex to glamorize or add a shock/edgy factor to the story.
As a Black woman as well, reading the first chapters of this book, it was triggering to see how early being sexualized starts and how much of that is blamed on the young girl rather than the world who has placed these labels on her way before she was born.
For a long time even as an adult, I felt uncomfortable with being comfortable with my own body because of how much it was sexualized. I felt like loving myself and being comfortable with my curves was a way of making those misconceptions of “young Black girls being fast” true. I didn’t want to wear certain things because I did not want to confirm stereotypes that people would have about me. It has been taking quite a long time, and a lot of practice (sometimes literally standing in the mirror and repeating “do not change, do not change” or even avoiding looking in the mirror and over-analyzing myself before going out) to slowly liberate me from these ideas that were placed on my persona by the media and society.
All to say to writers, producers, showrunners, to truly think about how they are depicting young teenagers when creating. Is that sexualization necessary to the character? Is the idea that “sex sells” really worth the burden being placed on your audience? To viewers, what and why is that you enjoy when watching that? Whose viewpoint are these narratives from? Why is it that when a girl decides to take control of her body, she’s objectifying herself, but when a teenage girl is getting sexualized on tv you don’t even notice? Where is this difference in reaction coming from?
I know in these past years, we have been more welcoming of how a person is defined by different identities, and more self-aware of how correctly depict stories and individuals…nonetheless that right and understanding may be extending more to certain individuals than others. We must be extending that grace and respect to everyone, not just people with a certain body size/shape, certain job, age, race, or cultural background. Don’t sexualize Chloe for wearing the same thing Halle is wearing.
Video to watch: let’s talk about the Japanese Schoolgirl by Mina Le ( I don’t think I have introduced you to one of my Youtube favorites so I chose one of her videos for this subject, well said with a side fashion/cultural history)
Video to watch: Y’all are desperate to humble Chloe Bailey by Khadija Mbowe