Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Problem With Society in YA Books

Everyone knows about Twilight. You either hate or love the series -- the books or the movies, whatever you choose.

Some of the main reasons why people don't like the series is because of the message that it subliminally sends out to young and impressionable teens: that it's okay to fall in love with (forgive) a guy just because he's the hottest thing in the world, stalking = true love, and that it's okay to be completely obsessive with your partner in a relationship.

The other day, I was reading articles about how most of today's YA books' romances are unhealthy while also sending the wrong message out to girls, the books' main audience. These are some of the articles that I read that I thought were really great in explaining what message YA books today are sending out to readers and why the community should improve before teens really start believing what books say society is like.

The most of the articles mention each other, so either way, you're going to end up checking them all out anyway. :P

In bookshop's post, Bad Romance (or, YA & Rape Culture), she talks about how she decided to read Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick even though she was already warned that she wouldn't like it by both friends and the internet and how the book sucked. She talks about parts of the book that pissed her off, how the book "repeatedly and systematically reinforces rape culture", and points out several other bestselling YA books/series that have creepy heroes that everyone somehow finds redeeming qualities (such as being extremely hot) that somehow makes everything okay.

Bookshop mentions Another post about rape by Harriet J in her post that discusses and explains rape culture in society and the grief girls go through when they say no to rape -- and when they don't.
It’s a rude fucking awakening when a woman gets raped, and follows the rules she has been taught her whole life — doesn’t refuse to talk, doesn’t refuse to flirt, doesn’t walk away ignoring him, doesn’t hit, doesn’t scream, doesn’t fight, doesn’t raise her voice, doesn’t deny she liked kissing — and finds out after that she is now to blame for the rape. She followed the rules. The rules that were supposed to keep the rape from happening. The rules that would keep her from being fair game for verbal and physical abuse. Breaking the rules is supposed to result in punishment, not following them. For every time she lowered her voice, let go of a boundary, didn’t move away, let her needs be conveniently misinterpreted, and was given positive reinforcement and a place in society, she is now being told that all that was wrong, this one time, and she should have known that, duh.
I would quote her whole article if it wasn't so long and end up being redundant in my point. Just click the link and be prepared to have your mind blown open to a woman's reality.

Bookshop also has many links from responses to her post, one of them being the post that lead me to her article. While browsing through in which a girl read's blog, I found one of her old posts titled why ya romance needs to change. She states her reasons on why it should change, most of them already mentioned in this post, but she writes it so logically and passionately that you should definitely read it. She also wrote a follow up post in response to her first one to clarify some matters and also add on to her argument which was written just as well as her first post. [By the way, I am completely jealous of the fact that she could those posts write so eloquently at the age of 16. I'm a year older than her and I'm not even sure that I could write half as well as she does!]

This is an advertisement. How was this even allowed to be published?!
The Book Lantern also posts plenty of discussion topics about the many flaws in the YA community or in society in general. One of their recent posts, Sluts, Fags, and Whores, is about slut shaming and the double standards in genders concerning the number of sexual partners a person has (ex. girls are called sluts while guys are called studs). Another post that I enjoyed reading was Teen Angst, Lust and Abuse: The New True Love?, which also goes along with the other posts mentioned earlier in here.

Anyway, that's what I wanted to say. I never gave much thought on how the romances in YA books were, but I'm definitely going to be on the look out from now on. Luckily, the most recent books that I've read all had strong, healthy relationships.

I also wanted to mention something that my AP Lang teacher told our class in the beginning of the year concerning relationships. When you think that you're in a good, healthy relationship, you should always ask yourself, "Does he/she make me a better person?" and that should tell you the right answer.


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