Saturday 23 April 2016

Conversations - Is 15 Years Old Too Young To Be Reading Fifty Shades of Grey?

Conversations is a meme from Geraldine @ Corralling Books and Joan @ Fiddler Blue.

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:


Then I calmed the hell down and decided to think about things logically.

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.

It always has graphic sex scenes. Usually more than one sex scene, dependent on the length of book.

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.

Like this post? Try these:


  1. I really agree with you! Personally I don't think that 15 year olds should read this, but so many of them have curiously that sparks them to find ahem, x-rated things. There's no stopping it.

    1. Why thank you - and yeah, sometimes you just have to be practical about things

  2. Great post!
    I agree so much - there's anything available and easy to find out there in the internet. I'd love it if kids didn't read things like Fifty Shades but... It's not going to happen. What you said about talking to parents - I think that's good. I hope kids feel comfortable enough to talk to the adults in their life. But it's such a difficult topic.
    Thanks for the great discussion post!

    1. Well thank you :)

      And yeah, one day the world will be ideal and teenagers will not be reading things like this... but the real world is not ideal (sigh.) So we'll just have to do the best with what we have.

    2. Ahh the ideal world! One can hope ;)

  3. Teens may have access to material, but I don't know that it makes it more acceptable for them to read it. I worry that a teen reading this book will think that abusive relationships can turn into happy,loving ones. I've never read the book and don't intend to, but I understand it's problematic in a lot of ways. I wouldn't want an impressionable teen reading it and thinking that if they do whatever a guy wants, even if it makes them uncomfortable, then that they guy will love them. --Krysta @ Pages Unbound

    1. I agree that the thought of teens deciding 50 Shades is a good relationship-model is concerning at best.

      I'm just of the opinion that they're going to get their hands on it anyway, and negating the damage by having an open discussion is a better way forward than denial and ignoring the topic.

      Thanks for stopping by though - you make some valid points and I'm always interested in different people's opinions :)

  4. 'And to place emphasis on respect, safety, and consent.' Thiss! I definitely wouldn't encourage 15yo to read erotica, but I would hope that if they do, they have someone with a good head on their shoulders to discuss what they've read.

    1. Totally agree :)

      Thanks for stopping by! Love your comment :)

  5. Oh my gosh Cee~! Awesome response! Loved how you defined everything, got to the heart of the matter, told me what your original opinion was, what your final one was...just pure awesomeness!
    (Daaaamn i feel like an English teacher hahahahahahahah)
    Anyway the gifs were epic too hahaha - very fitting and they made me laugh. In general your post was like meth - addictive (what a bad simile i knoww xD ).
    Loved how you mentioned fanfics too - because that's true, I don't even know how some teenagers know that much explicit detail about sex.. :S

    1. ...The nicest English teacher I ever had ;)

      Ha, my post is meth XD brings another meaning to 'Diary of a Reading Addict!'

      Thanks for your awesome-sauce comment :) I officially have the biggest smile on my face right now! XD


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