Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish- Sexual Content in YA

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Posts are written on Friday’s.

This Friday’s topic is sexual content in YA and is there too much?

I find this topic interesting, but also makes me feel old for really feeling like I might have an answer.

What even is sexual content?

I feel like in order to truly answer this question I need to let you know what I define as sexual content in YA. When I think sexual content I’m going to be honest and say I mostly think of graphic sex. This is probably because I’ve read a lot of other adult stories that have a heavy romance element, but that’s what I think of. If it’s in YA though I scale it back a bit, because honestly the USA is generally pretty prudish about sex and young people. The USA on a whole is not a sex positive country. So, sexual content in YA strike me as detailed descriptions of kissing, groping, or beyond.

Is there too much in YA?

In my opinion, no there isn’t too much sexual content in YA. Maybe it’s because I read mostly YA fantasy, but I honestly haven’t read much sexual content in YA at all. Sure there are descriptions of kissing sometimes and on rare occasion more than that, but it never seems excessive or generally graphic. Is this a thing in YA romance? I’m not sure, but really I don’t feel the need to be the morality police when it comes to sexual content. I think we as a society need to become more sex positive where we are more honest about sex and sex education. As an educator I know the whole absence only teaching doesn’t work and I kinda feel that way about sexual content. Also, young adults deserve to have themselves represented in their age group’s stories. Some people are sexually active at a fairly young age. You can feel how you want about that, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it happens. Even if young adults aren’t sexually active they still know what sex and related behaviors are. Most schools do sex ed around 5th and 6th grade.

My Personal Preferred Handling of YA sexual content

My biggest concern about anything having to do with YA and relationships is how relationships are portrayed. I feel like there are many books where there are a girl and a boy, they’re working together or something, and BAM they love each other. There’s no build, there’s just hey we’re around each other and attractive, we’re obviously meant to be together forever. Please show young people how to actually have and start a relationship. OR, and this one is worse, one character is mean to the other character, but they still fall in love and its never addressed. I get unhealthy relationship vibes and it makes me cringe. Now, I think exploring unhealthy relationships and the consequences/ effects of that are fine topics to explore. I think some young adults may need to read those stories. What I don’t like is unhealthy relationships being seen as an epic modern romance. Personally, when I was younger I didn’t really see the problems with it as I do now, but I remember hoping maybe one day to have a romance like in the books I read. I had no idea that a relationship like that wouldn’t be the ideal or healthy. Now, obviously as you learn and grow you can usually figure out what is a more healthy option, but as a young person its confusing and I’d just prefer better book role models. Please don’t teach people that abuse is attractive.

So, I kinda got off on a tangent there, but no I don’t personally believe there is too much sexual content in YA.


What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Have you even thought about this topic before? I’d love to hear what you think!