Basically, 'Conversations' is a bunch of topics to discuss at set times - and you know I me, I like a discussion.
I figure I'll just put in my two-pennies if/when I feel like jumping in on a topic. Because that's how I roll guys ;)
This week's topic is:
Is 15 Years Old Too Young To Be Reading Fifty Shades of Grey?
My first response to this question was a knee-jerk one, and it was this:
15 YEAR OLDS SHOULDN'T BE READING FIFTY SHADES. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD?!?!?!
Now, I haven't read Fifty Shades, so this is going to be a general erotica/sexy-times-related discussion.
I'm pretty sure the points will also relate to Fifty Shades - because I haven't been living under a freaking rock, and I have a basic understanding of what Fifty Shades is about.
Just to be clear - what we're dealing with here is graphic sex scenes and BDSM.
15 years old is below the age of consent in most countries.
I would never EVER actively encourage 15 year olds to read erotica.
Because that would be giving porn to a minor, and apart from being hugely creepy *shudders*, it's probably bordering on illegal.
Well...maybe not. I don't know - it ain't right to encourage you anyhow! So I'm not going to.
What is erotica?
A difficult one to define - but let's be honest: erotica is a book that is written with the sole purpose of sexual arousal.
I'm sure the argument can be made that a lot of romances border on erotica, or even are erotica. But there's always going to be fuzziness between genres.
I think intention is important - sure, you can have a steamy romance, but if it's more focused on the relationship than the sex then it's probably still a romance.
If the only reason for the relationship stuff is clearly to get the characters (ahem) together in the bedroom-sense, then you're probably dealing with erotica.
Again, there's no definitive here - but if you're dealing with a lot of graphic descriptions of the (ahem) mechanics of the bedroom, then it's probably erotica.
Why do people read erotica?
I'm sure there a lots of reasons - but at it's heart, erotica is a way of exploring sex, sexuality, and ultimately what (ahem) appeals to you... without placing yourself in dangerous or inappropriate situations.
For a discussion on the appeal, and the pros and cons, of erotica in general - and BDSM erotica also - take a look at Hans M Hirschi's excellent blog post.
The 15-year-olds perspective...
Remembering back to the dim and distance time in which I was fifteen, I'd say that the majority of fifteen-year-olds believe they're mature enough for this, but actually aren't.
At the same time, you aren't going to stop kids from getting hold of Fifty Shades and the like if they really want to.
Obviously, don't encourage them.
But, if they are reading this stuff, then hopefully their parents/relevant adults are approachable enough to make sex a topic that's not forbidden, but not so approachable that it starts to get a little weird.
(Talking to your parents about sex is uncomfortable at best. Let the kid know you'll talk about it if they want, then wait for them to come to you. And try to give off the general aura of believing in safe, sane, and consensual, sex.)
The Internet exists, and the genie's out of the bottle
Ignoring the sheer amount of live-action and 'traditional' porn on the Internet, there's also a lot of pornographic fanfiction and fanart.
I know this, because I read fanfiction. And there are some things I just will never be able to un-see *fanfiction flashbacks here.*
What worries me the most though is that most fic writers, and readers, are under 16. This is some pretty heavy sh** to be writing and reading when you're so damned young.
And how do you even know this level of detail at that age?!?! I didn't know about lube at 16, but apparently the teenagers of the Internet are experts in the subject. (*Further fanfiction flashbacks.*)
Fifty Shades of Grey actually came from Twilight fanfiction, on the Internet. Yes, this is the typical level of sexy-times that is available to most movie, book, and TV franchises and fandoms on fanfiction sites.
To be honest, Fifty Shades is tame compared to some things I've read *more flashbacks.*
So, what was my point again?
In an ideal world, no 15-year-old would be reading erotica.
We don't live in an ideal world - we live in the real world (*sigh* I'm gonna find Narnia someday, honest.)
In the real world, teenagers are curious about sex, and porn is readily available. You do the metaphorical math.
The way forward, my dear friends, is not to expect 15-year-olds to be angels, but to be ready to talk to them if and when they have questions.
And to place emphasis on respect, safety, and consent.
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