In 2010, Karen Healey authored Guardian of the Dead, a book for young adults that interweaves teen relationships, adventures, and Maori lore. In the midst of excitement surrounding the leaked sex scene photographs of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Healey took to her blog to call bullshit on the general perception as it regards teenagers, sex, and sex in fiction for teenagers. She lists them:
- Teenagers should not have sex.
- Teenagers should not have sex unless they are in love.
- Teenagers should not have sex unless they are married.
- Teenagers should not have sex in any combination other than one cisgendered boy and one cisgendered girl. [The term "cisgendered" means gender normative, which means that a persons gender identity, their bodies and the gender they were assigned at birth all match.]
- It is okay to call a girl who dresses in revealing clothing a slut.
- It is not okay to shame girls for having sex, unless they sleep with more than [arbitrary number] of people in which case it is okay to call them sluts.
- It is okay to call girls who sleep with a lot of people sluts if you also call boys who sleep with a lot of people sluts.
- If an unpleasant girl who dresses in attractive clothing and makes a move on someone else’s love interest is sexually assaulted, she deserves what she gets and it’s okay to call her a slut.
The combination of these ideas, commonly present in young adult literature, perpetuate slut- and prude shaming and feed into a culture that victimizes sexual predators and guilts victims of sexual abuse. Literature imparts lessons and it is impossible to expect teenagers to grow into sexually healthy adults if writers continue to perpetuate damaging concepts. Healey goes on:
Teenagers have an obligation to ensure that if they are having sex, it is consensually, and as safely as possible, with full awareness of the possible consequences. That includes paying attention to the laws of their area regarding legal ages of consent. Teenagers have an obligation to listen to their partner(s). They have an obligation to talk to their partner(s), as honestly and with as much disclosure as possible.
… What is not okay is shaming anyone else for having sex – or for not having sex. It is not okay to shame anyone, directly or indirectly, for having sex in combinations that are not one cisgendered boy and one cisgendered girl. It is not okay to call anyone a slut under any circumstances, no matter what they wear, who they make a move on, or how many people they have sex with. … Calling someone a slut (or, indeed, a prude) indicates that you think that they should feel ashamed for their consensual sexual behaviour, and that is not fine.
And if someone sexually assaults somebody, it is not the fault of the person who was assaulted. Ever. No matter what they are wearing, where they are walking, what they have been drinking, or who they have previously had sex with.
Read the entire post here.