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I've thought about this on and off for a while, and although I know the topic's been covered to death before, I felt idle enough today to organize it into a blog post. Or maybe this post isn't so organized. Anyway. I'm not sure if this is a touchy subject or not, so please don't throw tomatoes at me. Just my ramblings!

It's no secret that the U.S. has a bit of a 'warrior nation' syndrome. Do our hackles rise at excessive violence in our books and media? Meh, sometimes...although you'd never know it, what with all those SAW sequels. We may grumble under our breath now and then about gratuitous violence, but by and large we accept it as a necessity for entertainment.

Do our hackles rise at sex? Much more so than violence. Even the most violent Young Adult novels (think The Hunger Games) will succumb to making their love scenes fade to black. Now, I understand that because the books are written for a younger demographic, there are obviously certain scenes that just aren't appropriate to put in. But blowing up legs, mangling flesh, etc? A few lashes get batted at that, but not much more. When sex is mentioned in books, it's usually accompanied by the character very very blatantly pulling out condoms ("Teens, practice safe sex!"), or having the two characters who have sex get married first or never break up EVER and get married down the line and have pretty children ("Teens, if you have sex with someone, that better be the person you'll marry later on"). Pansy Love Scenes, as I've come to call them. :) When violence is mentioned in books (which is almost every book, including mine), there's no expectation that the author needs to put in some sort of afternoon school special warning on it. Characters punch, kick, and kill each other with reckless abandon. Few of those violent acts have very serious repercussions.

Now, having said that, I used to do the exact same thing. I did this in the very first draft of LEGEND, up until my agent Kristin called me out on it. Why is your main character killing people with reckless abandon? she'd said. He's moral. He's the good guy. He would think twice about killing anyone, even a person who works for the dark side. And she was completely right. After this, I started seeing my story in a new light. When there's violence, I hope I show a very good reason for it. When a character dies or is attacked, it's not gratuitous. And later on, if there's sex, I hope I do it justice. Because sex is no worse than violence. On the contrary, I'd say sex is way way WAY better than violence, right? Make love, not war?

This is not to say sex scenes should be gratuitous. Nothing should be gratuitous, neither sex nor violence, and if they're in a story, they better have a good reason for being there. There are a few YA novels I've read where I think the love scenes were done nicely, balancing tasteful writing with the bravery to describe more than Pansy Love. One good example I can think of: Simone Elkeles PERFECT CHEMISTRY. Yes, the love scene does involve condoms and true love, but who cares--there is no fading to black, it's a fantastic, tastefully done scene, neither vague nor gratuitous. It's super romantic. And makes perfect sense in the plot.

I don't mean that I don't like YA novels with excess violence and pansy love scenes. Many of them are my all-time favorites. This isn't a commentary on the authors and their books, but on the peculiar American culture that I understand we all have to cater to. If a book has a particularly violent scene, parents don't usually worry about it. If there's a sex scene, parents jump on it. Case in point: Kody Keplinger's debut THE DUFF. A book offering a candid, non-preachy plot with teen sex (and written by a teen, so I'm pretty sure it's accurate). When reading reviews on it, I see the huge amount of inevitable "too much sex, inappropriate". Granted, people also criticize The Hunger Games for having too much violence, but the uproar raised over that is half-hearted at best.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but for me it really just comes down to: I'd like to read less Pansy Love Scenes in YA and more tasteful, honest love scenes. If the story is better with that love scene, do it justice. Don't be afraid to go there when you need to.
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:iconamaranthinerain:
AmaranthineRain Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2011   General Artist
That was most inspiring =) Thank you.
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:iconphotofairy:
photofairy Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2011   General Artist
I totally agree with you, and it does make me sad. i suppose, it is a decision that every writer has to make, and once you have publishers involved (not that i'd know anything about that) it is possible that some compromise must be reached on the account of "young audience".
Fundamentalist Christian attitude to sex has pervaded America, even condoms are discouraged in that mentality, double standards of abstinence causing a lot of teenage pregnancy, it all has been analysed and exposed for what it really is, and still... It's unfortunately the society we live in - very discriminatory and allowing the attitudes of the few to influence the lives of many.

Personally, I decided that i am not going to think of a demographic, but at the back of my mind i am aware that probably, due to "scenes of sexual nature" and "adult themes" what i am writing won't be seen as "book for the kids". But the thing is, teens read all kinds of books (Sidney Sheldon at 14 anyone :lmao: ) so (I am not sure where I'm going with this either :giggle: )...
yes, it's nice to be able to just write, nothing gratuitous, nothing forced, just do justice to the story without thinking of various assumptions publishers (and parents) make on behalf of the readers.
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:iconhalf-uva-poof:
half-uva-poof Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2011  Student General Artist
This isn't an isolated issue, by any means. Look at children's television... all of them have raging battles in them (well not all, but a lot). Granted, they leave out the blood and guts, but still. Kissing is considered "eeeeewwww" still, and will rarely be shown.

I saw this problem when I worked at Blockbuster. Parents would come up to the counter with a handful of movies that were all PG or PG13 for their young adult children and ask what the rating was for. If I said it was a violent movie, they were fine and they took it. If I said it had a brief sex scene in it, they got flustered and went for the violent one.

I get the feeling that parents, and the nation as a whole, believe that our kids won't go out and try to blow someone's brains out (though countless news articles and school shootings beg to differ), but they WILL try to go out, get an erection and have sex. I can almost see the logic, in that we teach our kids that violence and hurting people is bad and wrong, but we have a hard time defining a moral code with sex. "It's bad, until you're married, then it's good" is a hard concept for not-fully-developed-brains to wrap around. It's abstract. It changes with something. How can it be bad and then good? So, I think this country tries to take it out of the equation altogether... and ultimately fails (nighttime TV starts at 8... what teens go to bed at 8?)

I feel that the only way to combat this is to not fall prey to it. Don't be gratuitous, be it writing, filming, drawing, whatever, and do all of it in an "important" way. If there is meaning behind it, it will make sense, and it will be normalized, and then, maybe, we'll have less parents in a tizzy over nipples. God forbid children see nipples. OH GOD! THEY HAVE THEM! What shall we DO? ...anyway, that's my... $10 worth, haha.
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:iconronithebear:
RonitheBear Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011
I don't read much YA anymore (classics/modern lit phase, go!), but I did happen upon some really good examples of the tasteful balance in sex and violence, that being Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. I haven't read them recently enough to give specific examples, but the way that sex, violence, and tough decisions are dealt with make it the most realistic teen fiction I've read, and it's in in the "urban fantasy" genre.

AND as an added bonus, the heroines in each novel are insanely strong characters and solve their problems in their own way instead of succumbing to what either side is forcing on them. The books (especially Ink Exchange) also address the subjects of addiction, sex, and rape in a way that isn't patronizing or over/underplayed. The author treats her readers with respect, and through that, my teen self gained respect for her.
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:iconashleystar143:
AshleyStar143 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011
Without life theres no rainbow magical random dogs fling over Candy island, a Unicorn named Charlie the Unicorn, or how well invent Rasin bairn without Steve Rasin and Mc.
Bairn.
This is why we need a freakin life with, Fin the human and Jake the dog. We need Annoying orange to make retarded knock-knock jokes with a apple, tomato, pear, and a other orange who gets squeeze by a dude to make orange juice, instead walking his butt to the store instead murdering a homeless orange.
Without life, there wont be hawt women walking around asking for food.
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:iconpurple-fearie:
Purple-Fearie Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011   General Artist
I agree very whoelheartedly with your points.
You know, I see a very strange duality in American culture that shows through forms of entertainment. For instance, the sugar-coating of sex-scenes and romances and the majority of our films having 'happy' endings (this applies to books as well. The French have really called us out on the film platform though.). And yet, we see movies like SAW and games like GTA.
I think in some ways, it can be boiled down to the way the ideals the country has been nurturing, have been taken to extremes (and of course in entertainment outlets, things are often also taken to extremes as symbols or are presented as /plainly/ as possible). We see the independence and fight-for-it attitude turn into a drive for violence, and perhaps the romanticism, promise of right, and general idealism turn into a hope that is almost a denial (we've all been promised fairy tale ending by Disney, right?).

In terms of authorship, I have to admit that I don't /like/ to read sex scenes. As a person, I'm simply not comfortable with it. I also feel that gratuitous sex or romantic physicality ruins otherwise good literature. I feel like this is mostly a personal matter.
But I must digress, with violence I am as forgiving as any other american, if not more so (brother and father relish in violent videogames and I have enjoyed them as well, and I have become desensitized).
To add to this, however, it should be noted that Americans on a whole have become desensitized to violence through sheer exposure, where we have not been overexposed to sex in the same way. The problem with the desensitization (...or whatever word that really should be) is that more of the subject must be used to get any sort of reaction. Form instance, no one cares if Bruce Willis bleeds from a head wound or loses a leg; but in 'Pan's Labyrinth' everyone cringes when a hand is split in half with a rusty knife, or when a cheek is cutm open in a similar manner. There has been some similarity with sexual content, as we can see that scantily clad women appear frequently now a days, though Alfred Hitchcock was ground breaking and was strongly scolded and spurned for his use of a woman appearing in her bra in 'Psycho' (for this, he was actually not allowed into Disney, Walt Disney himself said he would not allow such a vile man into his parks).
Take of this what you will, it's just added food for the thought-soup.
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:iconwolf-kin:
Wolf-kin Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!

As a writer, I've always been really impressed by Ursula K LeGuin's attitude toward sex, which is basically anti-hype and very simple. It's very "this is a part of life and people do it," style of thing. If you haven't read any of hers, The Dispossessed is brilliant, and because of the language barrier, the character Shevek uses words like "defacate" and "copulate" to be neutral. It's . . . beautiful. And calm.
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:iconrei-0:
rei-0 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Student General Artist
it's always the sex scene, or the mere implication of a sex scene amidst all the violence that gets everyone in a tizzy.
I guess we should thank the Puritans.
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:iconkt-chan:
kt-chan Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I sure feel ripped of on those pansy love scene, and sometimes on violence I just want to scream TMI! (I can't watch movies like SAW) Even as a kid I don't think I ever found sex very shocking, but was sometimes so upset about accidentally seeing someone blow up on TV that it would haunt me for days. But, as time goes on, you get less and less shocked, becoming desensitized toward violence, which I personally think is horrible. Sex is a biological thing to carry on a species. Violence is only harmful to a species. So how the depiction of sex could ever be worse then the depiction of violence is beyond me!
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:iconno-2b:
No-2B Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I agree and disagree at the same time if that is possible. I have known many parents (including my mother) who balked and fought against the amount of violence I was exposed to as a child (to the point that video games and comic books were banned in the house) because she didn't think being violence saturated was a good thing. At the same time, she did so more with sex. I think that perhaps the reason for this is that she saw sex as a kind of sacred thing. For a long time sex has been held as a sacred and personal thing (in many cultures and religions across the world) and has only recently become not. Whereas violence has been a part of daily life for everyone, child and adult alike for all the ages (even when sex was held as a sacred tradition). Sure, we should probably be squeemish when we see someone torn apart (I can certainly say I still am), but that doesn't make it any less... common? I mean, think about the kids who grow up in war torn countries, where these sights are not something they imagine, but a reality *shrug*. Don't really know where I'm going with this... just some thoughts mulling around in my head. Personally, I would much rather not read about sex, some of my favorite books have been ruined because of those scenes. I simply really and truly do not want to be present (imaginarily or in reality, book or movie) during an act I feel is supposed to be an intimate moment between two people. I wouldn't want anyone observing me.
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:icontamsthegenkiqueen:
TamsTheGenkiQueen Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Everything I wanted to say about this post has pretty much already been said...it's a little messed up that we consider something extremely natural much more necessary to censor than something that is extremely UNnatural.

I'm not TOTALLY against the fade-to-black thing; as long as it doesn't literally fade to black. I'm fine with a good cutoff, but you're absolutely right - there are far too many cop-outs out there in the literary world. In the cinematic world as well, where that tactic is even worse because the fade-to-black is visually slapped on and feels so, so cheesy. :/
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:iconhappienoodleboy:
happienoodleboy Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011
I feel similarly about the power of heart, what a cop out!
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:iconrentao101:
rentao101 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
When I write, I am not afraid of violence in my books. Granted, I'm not actually very good yet at writing that short of thing so I try to work on my characters before I focus on the fighting. But I know that it can be used as tool to show the morals of the characters, but so can their relationship to sex.

I don't write sex really in my books, or at least I haven't so far. I mostly deal with the relationships between the characters, leading up to the deed itself. I really don't feel confident in my writing skills to actually write a love scene.

But I do know what you are talking about. I've seen it a lot in the books that I like to read. Lots of 'fading to black' scenes. I can honestly understand the want to do that, maybe they don't want to be attacked for their use of sex. But I do agree with you on the honesty. All books need more of it, in everything.
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:iconmichikodarkkitsune:
michikodarkkitsune Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011
I have no problem with sex or violance in stories. In fact, I think I needed it! Although I love my mum and dad and we have a very close bond, I don't actually think I had the "sit down and talk about sex" talk with them. I pretty much figured it out through reading books with sexual content from being about 12. I read Sex in the City (not to be confused with Sex & the City) when I was that old and it told me everything I needed to know. Sure, it made me blush, but I'd rather know from someone else's experience (fiction or fact) than find out when it was too late.
My parents aren't reckless or anything, but they accepted that I didn't want to approach them as I felt embarrassed about asking them and I CERTAINLY didn't want to approach the school nurse (since the thought of sex seemed like it would shock her at her age). I didn't know where I could go to get information (without being labelled as a "slag") about safe sex or anything. Teenagers these days are so lucky! There are posters, drop-in sessions and everything where they can get information. This only started up after I left school and was in college.

It really irks me that some people have double standards. What's worse? Going on a mass killing spree where people get injured, maimed and die OR one scene which shows how people can express their love for each other. Protected or otherwise. I know which I prefer.
Those parents who wait and wait and wait to explain sex to their children could end up being too late. A friend of my mum's sat down with her daughter to have the "safe sex" talk and the girl had already been having sex since she was 13. Luckily she wasn't pregnant.
And sometimes parents don't even want to talk to their kids about sex since they're idk prudish themselves about it, which makes it seem like a dirty horrible thing. Which it certainly is not! Most of the time anyway....
My parents have always portrayed things like sex as something that should be special and shared between two people. And that love makes it even better.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that some teenagers NEED graphic content in novels so they can make sense of it themselves and in private. They can break down the information and discover things about their own personal likes and dislikes and develop their own morals. That's why I love novels, no matter what the author writes you will always read it differently and sometimes its exactly what you need at that time in your life. <3 xxx
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:icondepleti:
depleti Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I picked up The Hunger Games because they were popular in their genre, and I plowed through them in a few days. They were fun to read, exciting, and they kept me up at night after I'd finished them. But I was a bit surprised at just how brutal the violence was. I'm a bit sensitive to it as it is (I will never see a movie like Saw ever), so when I read these things about kids killing kids and some of them enjoying it, I was kind of like "Wow." It wasn't till I read your journal here that I realized the only sex scene they even almost had was passed over in one sentence. I remember feeling a bit disappointed after reading that, because it's a huge turning point for that character to get that close to someone, and it just kind of petered out. Or something. I'm not saying I wanted a bodice-ripping dose of passion and ecstasy, but I would've liked more than what was written.

Of course The Hunger Games in itself is a commentary on our obsession with violence in the media, but that's a whole other discussion.

When I thought about my own writing and how I handle violence and sex, I suddenly became aware that, if there was violence or fighting, I was always following a character who wasn't directly involved. Like his friends went off to fight but he had some other non-violent job to do in the meantime and I didn't bring his friends back until the fighting was over. And so far there's only one almost sex scene in this one story, and I do fade to black but it's not because it's the easier, safer decision. It's to make the recounting by the character later on all the more fun (for me) because it didn't go well. :3 That same character is not prone to violence either, but some of his comrades are.

It is interesting what's passable and forbidden in YA literature though. I will be conscious of any Pansy Love Scenes I might be tempted to add in the future!
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:iconrainbowgal:
Rainbowgal Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well, I don't know much about the American systems (and being a little bit of a snob, I sometimes see it as a young upstart nation which thinks it's better than everybody else - don't kill me please!) but I know the British don't seem to show very much interest in books, especially not in the media. If it's not Harry Potter, no one wants to know, which is kinda sad.

However, I do see what you mean about the violence and killing - and sex, to a certain extent. I'll admit that I don't like reading about the actual act of sex in books. This is probably because I haven't experienced it myself, but I find it awkward and a little disgusting to be reading about two characters actually "doing it". It makes me feel as though I'm watching them through a window, which no self-respecting person wants to do. I feel as though I'm invading their privacy and such a thing should be left to the imagination. I may just be a minority on this one, though.

In my big mega-saga of god knows how many stories, there isn't a huge amount of death, but when there is I try to make the effect it has on the characters realistic. It's a fantasy, so there are a few "die and come back to life" scenes, but I try to follow the rule that they're quick and if a character has been dead for say, half an hour, they are NOT coming back (though there is one time where I cheat and make one character disappear so everyone thinks he's dead for several months when it turns out he was just in a coma). Once the character really HAS kicked the bucket, I've tried to make sure that the other characters react appropriately to it without slowing down the action too much.

I like darkness in stories as well - it makes it dramatic and scary and pulls you more into the story by appealing to your emotions. I'm not so sure about the hacking at limbs, which seems a bit OTT, but I'll admit one of my characters gets tortured to such an extent that he loses his mind and we then have to deal with the effect it has on his family when he is no longer himself.

I hope you think I'm following the right sort of ideas here. :)
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:iconinlelendri:
InleLendri Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Hope you don't mind I've bookmarked this entry - I think you have some very good points here and I'd like to be able to go back and read it again if I want ;).

I think the basic problem is double standards and taboos, really. People used to have a problem with swearing, killing, gore - all that kind of stuff, too. Respectable people shouldn't do that or discuss it. But somebody didn't give a damn (even that expression they tried to censor in Gone with the Wind) and did it anyway and over time people got used to it. We've even seen killing and violence become...well, I'd hate to say something deeper, but as you say, non-gratuitous (well, less, at least), but sex...is still viewed as a taboo and therefore it is only openly "explored" (I can't stress the quotations enough) in porn-movies and similar...

Oh, and talking double standards - how come american kids can't buy cigarettes or alcohol, where they can only hurt themselves, until they're 18, but can get a driver's license (where they can hurt a lot of other people) when they're 16? That has never ever made sense to me.

Also, there's a whole other issue - I don't mean to judge the U.S. at all or jump on the bandwagon of haters or anything, but there is one thing that, after living with a host-family for a few months and going to school (in Kentucky) there was one thing that really struck me as downright *stupid*. American kids, in general, seem to be treated as kids until they're 18 and then all of a sudden, when they hit that special birthday, they suddenly have to be adults? I mean...life is a learning curve, shouldn't that include going from childhood to adulthood? Isn't that what the teen-years are for? Ain't sex a very important part of teen years, since the whole idea of the hormonal process through those years is to mature you and make you ready for all that entails, sex included? Why is it good to study in advance in everything but things like that?

Sorry, that was a bit of a rant...but it felt good to get off my chest. Thank you for reading this
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:iconkt-chan:
kt-chan Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I would just like to address your comment about the 18 thing. In America, turning 18 does not magically turn you into an adult, but is really more of a legal thing. Meaning, that you will be legally treated as an adult for crimes, banking, signing things ect. Alot of Americans are still treated/seen as children until almost 22-23 years old, which has to do with the fact that a lot of us stay in school until then, or may even counting on to graduate school. This kind of thing causes an extended adolescence, because as students you never actually have to deal with the adult world outside of education. So really, 18 is more of a legal thing than the magical turning-into-an-adult.

Oh, about the drivers license, I have also though about why we can get one at such a young age. My explanation is because we need to, because our country is friken huge! Just a drive to your high school can be over half an hour. And especially in the midwest, were their is very little to no public transportation, driving is an necessity. However, I personally think that getting a license here is far to easy.

Also, heres some fun food for thought. In America, people can join the military at 18 and die for their country, but they are not allowed to enjoy a glass of beer until they are 21. Talk about some double standards.
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:iconinlelendri:
InleLendri Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the long reply. The 18-thing I was referring to was more what I've experienced from living in the US for a bit. I went to high school with a lot of teens who was not allowed to do a whole lot (which seems odd to someone coming from a country where we, when teens have, admittedly probably too much, freedom), they even had curfews at like 7pm, but I found out that they were expected to move out when they were legal. That is probably where my issue with the whole thing stems. But yeah, you're definitely right...and I have no right to be prejudiced and generalise. It's just...very restrictive seen from a foreigner's PoV.

I do know that driving is essential to the american culture, and that even school is somewhere you have to drive to. It just seems so stark a contrast that you can do stuff like that - including, as you mention, joining the military - but set foot in a liquor-store before you're legal (even if it's just to accompany someone and you have no intention of buying) and there's almost hell to pay.

Maybe one could find a compromise so that while they can get their license (I believe you can be taught by somebody older with a driver's license, is that correct?) at 16, they should at least have so and so many lessons with a 'professional' instructor, so that some basics are covered, and they'll only get their fully fledged license at age 18. Or something. Just throwing around ideas here.

Another thing about the whole alcohol issue - here in my country we're allowed to buy beer and such (not strong alcohol anymore, though, there you have to be 18) when we're 16 and a lot of teens experience their first brush with alcohol when they're younger than that, in a controlled environment together with their parents. I'm not saying that it should be allowed for pre-teens or anything or encouraging people to drink, but when the brush comes in a controlled environment with people they trust, they can "sniff" how they react and what is safest for them without having to worry about where it'll bring them.

But yeah...I love the U.S. and a lot of the things you have there and I love to visit. There are just some things that really irk me, and one of them is the double standards most americans are so used to they don't even think about.

Thank you, once more, for your reply, it was rather enlightening, too...I honestly didn't expect to get replies to that little rant I went into ^__^'
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:iconkt-chan:
kt-chan Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem, I love to here what foreigners think about the USA, I think it's interesting and gives us a better perspective on our own country. I grew up mostly in Germany so moving to America was a big culture shock!

As far as I know, in most states it is required to take a professional driving course and have something like 60 hours of driving with a licensed driver before you can take your driving test. The problem, of course, is you can fudge the hours. In my state I took a class outside of school, but in the east coast its more common to have drivers ed as part of your high school education.

I'm glad you had a good experience in the US!
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:iconno-2b:
No-2B Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great points here. America truly has made "growing up" much harder than it needs to be. What the solution is for this, I don't know. I can only hope to do a better job of letting my kids grow up before 18 than my parents.
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:icondragonprivate:
DragonPrivate Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Student Writer
I've read Perfect Chemistry, and I completley agree.
It was well done, descriptive and beautiful in a way that wasn't...Erotic.

That was a great book, but books like that and SPEAK are considered "semi-pornagraphic because it talks about rape!" yet I see extremely violent books in my Middle School Library, not even on the Eighth grade shelf.

This world really needs to get it's priorities straight.
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:iconlunaoro:
Lunaoro Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011
This is a idea I have had for long time. I think that if someone does dare to go "there" the pages should be covered. That way a parent can read the book and determine if it appropriate for their child. Being a mother myself I have no problem with book violence. I mean it can happen. I would rather my child have a idea of what it is for future reference if something similar happens to him. As for the sex. I am waiting on that. I don't know when he will be mature enough to absorb that kind of information. Since we are a Christian family I hope that he learns good morals for sex. I will say that when he learns about sex I want it to be explained to him by his father and I. Not a book, teachers, computer,etc. So until that time I will continue to preread books for him. Now when he does learn about sex I have no problem with the idea of him reading about in YA novels. I only hope that the authors he chooses are tasteful in how it is presented through words. I don't know I might be a really strange mum. I just don't like the idea of hiding those things from him. It is up to him to learn what writing style he likes. As well as what type of books he likes. If we hide everything with the label "wrong" on it then kids are going to want to see it more. The reason being is that they like to push limits. So I really think what you are talking about is more of a personal decision. Or for youngsters a family decision. Sorry I think I might have taken this a little out of context ^^;
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:iconmree:
mree Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Professional Writer
Oh I completely understand! Ultimately, it should be up to the parents to decide what they are comfortable letting their children read. That's definitely a parent's right, and I think you're doing the right thing in deciding how to approach breaking the topic(s) to your children.

The only thing that perplexes and bothers me are cases like what a librarian told me about. She said she was talking to a group of parents about The Hunger Games. She warned them that there is excessive, graphic violence of children killing children, and that while integral to the story, that they should be mindful of this when giving the book to their kids. The parents would ask her: "Well, does it have any sex in it?" Librarian: "No." Parents: "Oh okay, then that's fine. Suzy/Bobby doesn't have a problem with violence." Anyway, the librarian mentioned to me that she found this somewhat bothersome, the double standard. I think that's where the main issue is. I mean, some YA novels do best without either. MATCHED by Ally Condie has neither, no graphic violence or sex. It's a clean, well-told story. But when a story has one or the other, people tend to give the thumbs-up to violence but not the thumbs-up to sex.
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:iconlunaoro:
Lunaoro Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011
That is rather disturbing. I would have thought that both would be frowned upon by most parents. Killing and fighting are two different types of violence. When a child reads about a hero defeating a villain and the villain is set to trial. Is the type of action that they would see in real life. Though somehow they escape (Batman,Spiderman). When a child reads about a hero killing the villain (Ironman,Punisher) it a different situation. But it is all in how the message is presented. If a writer is going to add sex or violence to a story then it should have a clear message of the consequences. Not saying that all books that express sexual promiscuouty(splg?)needs to end with someone getting a STD or pregnant with no father around. If it includes violence then let it show the emotional strain it can have on a individual. If it has sex then let it explain the ups and downs of the first time or times after that. I have said this before about another subject on books and it contents. I would much rather sit on my comfy couch and read about it than have to go through it myself. I believe it is the same for our younger readers. Would it not be better to expose them to a possibility than have them go through it and end up in a worse situation. As for the black out part that you mentioned. I personally leave it at that when I write. One reason being I just can't bring myself to dive my characters into something private. Another I like leaving things up to the imagination. I won't lie I love romance. But to me it is the getting there rather than the deed that I obsess over. Again it is all about personal taste. So I can see why all this has been upsetting. The number one thing to remember is it just fantasy. I doubt that we will go into a steampunk era or find ourselves in the world of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Although if you find yourself in the world of Elizabeth Hayden tell me how to get there. I want to go bother Achmed ;)
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:iconlethe-gray:
lethe-gray Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I absolutely agree with your points. Having sold comics for 13 years I got to see the worst of the dichotomy that the American system has to offer.

It's PERFECTLY okay for me to have sold a Spawn comic, showing graphic gore such as a guy being basically drawn and quartered, to a 14 year old. However, OMG if there's a NIPPLE on a woman visible somewhere, it's got to be up in the over-18 section, because as we all know NIPPLES ARE BAD.

Apparently, nipples will ruin our children...o.o

When I was a teenager, no one cared what I bought. I have a collection of extremely explicit Heavy Metal magazines that I bought when I was like 15 or so. Some of them were purely porn in nature, some of the depictions were sensible and fit with the story. But handled in a way that as a "comic book" today of course, could NEVER be sold legally to anyone under18. That magical 18.

>_>

There really is a difficult line to walk. I have written outright porn, it's fun but tough to edit... I'm going to be writing more, though in that category of "appropriate to the story" (not that the stuff I did write wasn't appropriate, just that it was extremely graphic). Of course the background of this stuff is in horror and mature audiences games anyway, not young adult. I have no issue with having teens read about sex. I read about sex. I enjoyed sex while I was that age. People in the USA need to get over this crap thinking that teenagers can't 'handle' explicit stories.

I just wish that softcore porn was illegal, is all. :) It's just wrong to tease and show pretty people ... not... actually... doing it...
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:iconmree:
mree Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Professional Writer
It's indeed a very difficult line to walk. Of course YA fiction has a different duty than adult fiction, and needs to be careful how it portrays both violence and sex to teens. I just wish more would be mindful about the violence and not just the sex. (And I know exactly what you mean about comics.)
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:iconlethe-gray:
lethe-gray Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
In my fanfic that I've been posting, since it's set in a mashup of the Half Life/Portal and FEAR game worlds, it's by nature quite horrific. I have tried to maintain that - even though the characters are *intended to become weapons* (from Fear) it's not something they enjoy outright. Chaotic death is abhorrent to Paxton, it's pointless...at least in THIS universe....In the game he's from, not so much.
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:icontamsthegenkiqueen:
TamsTheGenkiQueen Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I have to say, I got a big laugh out of "nipples will ruin our children," because the idea is indeed ridiculous.

And now I want there to be a promotional poster about this whole discussion with a motto like, "Nipples are for feeding. Guns are for bleeding."
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:iconlethe-gray:
lethe-gray Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
HAHAHA perfect :D
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:iconceryk:
Ceryk Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Student Artisan Crafter
I think most of the time it's unwarranted and does not need to be included and is pointless to do so and a lot of people just do it for the sake of doing it. Most of the time love scenes serve no purpose to the story and most of them are just added for the girl porn value in my opinion. I tend to skip them, not because I have any problem with sex or anything, but because it slows down the story since I find no pornographic value in such things (which let's face it, romance novels and love scenes are nothing more than porn aimed at the female audience. Which I also don't have an issue with. But I think it needs to stay mostly in romance novels.)

I'd rather have an inferred scene that isn't actually written and moves me along to the next chapter so I can continue with the important parts of the story.
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:iconmree:
mree Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Professional Writer
I agree with the ones that are unwarranted and/or unnecessary. I think the point, though, is that when it *does* matter, it should be done well. Not a cop-out Pansy Scene. For example, plenty of YA books have gratuitous violence that could easily be taken out and still have the story move forward just fine. These scenes, no one bats an eye at. But if it's a sex scene, even one critical to the plot, people will balk at it.
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:iconceryk:
Ceryk Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Student Artisan Crafter
Yeah, if it can't be written well then leave it out. Of course, I'm one to talk. Can't get past writing a chapter because of my inability to organize, lack of discipline and ADD :P But I do read, so I guess that gives me some qualification to have some kind of say.

But yeah, that's because of the stupidness of our society. Especially if it's directed at adults or precieved to be direct at people under 18 by fucking idiots. Mass Effect for instance. Clearly states on the box that it's meant for Mature Audiences and idiots who think video games are for children get all up in arms about an optional, and very easily missed unless you're aiming for it, sex scene.
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:iconmree:
mree Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Professional Writer
As a reader, you have the most say of all! (and I'm stuck on my current chapter too. Fear not. :) )

Oh man, don't get me started about video games. There was that one sex scene in God of War too, that got everyone in a tizzy. Of course, no one bothered to mention all the guts and spewing blood in the rest of the game. :)
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:iconceryk:
Ceryk Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2011  Student Artisan Crafter
heh, I never get past one chapter. My problem is I see the big picture, but I get kind of blocked and start staring at the screen when I try to fill in the stuff that makes it a story and not an entry in a history book. Tried skipping ahead and making a note to come back and that got me further than I ever have before, but my disabilities kicked in and I lost momentum.
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