Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On the subject of “…material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity.”

May I humbly submit that if you’re writing about teenagers and not thinking about porn, you’re missing something critical? I’m not saying porn must be present in your novel, but I am saying the influence of porn is manifold and manifest wherever teenagers, their sexual relationships, and their caretakers are present, and if you believe, as I do, that YA is at its best when it’s transforming and processing teenage experience into art, then porn is somewhere in your ingredient list (maybe in undetectable amounts; maybe handfuls).

I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time, but honestly I don’t think I have anything to say on the subject that exceeds what you’ll hear in the first half hour or so of this conversation between the inimitable Dan Savage and the new-to-me-but-very-interesting Cindy Gallop, creator of MakeLoveNotPorn.com. It’s all interesting and contentious in the best sense, but particularly so around 5:00 in (porn as sex education and why this is a problem). The whole thing is interesting.

(And, in case you’re unfamiliar with Dan, he’s a sex advice columnist—and not a dainty one. He talks very frankly about sex. There is a lot of swearing. Pornographic tropes are discussed in detail—but, hey, they use the word “tropes” so it’s like college, right? You’ve been warned.)


I haven’t listened to Gallop’s TED talk, but I certainly will.