Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Days since YA controversy: 0
msauvage purple
Internets, I may or may not go see X-Men today, so in the limited amount of time I have, I will simply give you a (a, not the) Twitter-reaction round-up to the Wall Street Journal article about how YA is bad and it should feel bad ("It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff"). I don't feel like I really have to take it apart sentence by sentence, because it is so incredibly, self-evidently wrong in its wrongness to anyone who has actually read YA books.

@maureenjohnson: The Wall Street Journal has done it again. I am going to have some kind of an episode. *quivers* http://on.wsj.com/lwuPNd

And then it snowballs into #YAsavesCollapse ) 

Site Meter

I've always taken this as one step removed from "women who read/write are prone to inflammation of the uterus" advice throughout literature. Americans are descended of Puritans, and there is a dark subcurrent that says that any work of fantasy, anything vaguely imaginative, anything that provides a distraction from our Christian duty of service--anything, in other words, that might require a few minutes' thought--is somehow immoral simply because it promotes personal reflection, which might lead to the development of private morality. It is not the subject matter. It's the fact that the subject matter is open to interpretation, that it has no prepackaged, state-approved morality tacked dutifully onto it. Because heaven forfend our young people go around willy-nilly decidin' what they think about stuff. That is for their elders and betters to determine.

I also had a bit of a feelingsvomit when I saw this, as someone above put it. I really think this attitude comes down to erasure - they want to erase everyone, every victim, every addict, every ordinary foul-mouthed kid who doesn't match their clean-cut pretty little privileged middle class ideas of what adolescence should be. It's about saying that those kids shouldn't get to be heroes. Why, if they did, the world might start thinking of them as people! Horrors.

This. Because if we just don't talk about them, they'll go away.

My sister and I were talking about The Golden Compass and she said "I won't let Ty (her now infant son) read those books (His Dark Material series)." I looked at her like she was crazy, because obviously she was crazy and said "Dude, how are you going to stop him? If he's old enough to pick the book up and wants to read it, he's going to whether you allow him or not." She shrugged and said, "Well, maybe I'll use it as a learning opportunity."
Best response I could have hoped for, since this is the sister who a) doesn't understand the Internet isn't just for work and shopping, and b) thinks unions are bad. I have no idea how we're related.
It's really disheartening, because for me, who's dyslexic and didn't learn to read until the 4th grade, what got me reading was a Horror book. I picked it up b/c I knew I shouldn't and got so absorbed in it I stayed up all night to finish it. Haven't stopped reading since.

I read book one of that series when I was in the sixth grade, and I was all, "Rock on." Then I read book two, and somewhere near the end I decided that I wasn't really old enough to deal with this war-against-God stuff. I eventually read book three when I was 20, enjoyed it, and still managed to maintain my Christian beliefs. So I guess the moral of this story is to tell your sister to have faith in her kid's intelligence and ability to decide for himself what he can and cannot handle.

That entire article is just do not want. (I've been reading dystopias and other dark novels since I was twelve, it's a little too late now.) But what pissed me off the most was categorizing the books by sex.
I hate when people say that there has to be "girl" books and "boy" books. I'll read whatever the hell I want, thank you.
But yes, as a fifteen year old who loves her YA (the darker the better, pretty much) .... seriously, what.

I find the language thing hilarious, though. I hear about three times more foul language at school than the average amount of cursing in YA books.

Ah, stupid people.

I also hate "girl books and boy books" especially because it's extremely hard to get teen boys to read to begin with and when you start saying 'this is a girl book!' the boys aren't going to want to read -- even if it's good (see: Twilight, Hunger Games, even Scott Westerfeld).


I don't think I want to dignify the actual article with a pageview, but I've heard enough excerpts to be appropriately disgusted. Glad Libba Bray got in on the action- I love her books. Has anyone heard from Tammy Pierce? She has an LJ.

She hasn't posted on it yet -- this broke late last night on the east coast, as I recall.

But given how the story is spreading through the internets, I expect we'll hear from her soon.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a coworker. I'd recommended Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron (it's a fantastic book) because she is both a YA book lover and the mother of a teenage boy. She loved the book and recommended it to a friend, also the mother of a teenage boy. My coworker told me that her friend took one look at the summary of the book and handed it back going "teenagers don't get depressed!"

Which I think is what many critics of YA seem to believe. Something like: "Teenagers DON'T have these problems and thus shouldn't read about them because they might get these problems." When the truth is more like the opposite.

Edited at 2011-06-05 07:31 pm (UTC)

"teenagers don't get depressed!"


I just don't get that woman. The OP of the WSJ piece, I mean.

I generally skipped most YA books, since I was reading Les Miserables, Great Expectations, Rebecca, and Poe's entire oeuvre around 13. I tried A Tale of Two Cities, but I'm pretty sure I'd struggle with it now as much as I did then. It's not the themes. It's Dickens' writing style. We had A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at the school library, but it was in the restricted section. Someone accidentally misplaced it in the regular section and I was able to borrow it that way.

The only YA books I was really into were Francesca Lia Block books. I'm sure if I read them now, they'd make me seriously facepalm, but back then, they were full of interesting imagery and explored teen topics pretty openly. (I remember one short story in particular talking about a girl with a transwoman parent, which never weirded me out.) My mom felt they were too "mature" for me at the time but didn't really have an issue with Les Mis? I... am not really sure what that was about.

I wish books like RAGE and others had been around when I was a kid. I was being molested by my father. I repressed all of it until I was older. I wonder if I might have been able to remember and do something about it at the time had I had a book that talked about that experience from a similar viewpoint to mine.

I'm sorry, but in the late 80s/early 90s, we had Christopher Pike and R L Stine, who wrote horror and whose books were rather creepy and disturbing even if they weren't completely graphic about the violence. Though, at the same time, I was also reading books by Mary Higgins Clark, John Grisham, and others who were a lot more graphic about violence.

Finally, the fact that this woman thinks that a YA novel depicting self-mutilation, or rape, or incest will GIVE PEOPLE IDEAS is absolutely ludicrous. Again, I so wish I had had books like this when I was actively going through my own personal hell of incest and childhood bipolar. I think it would have given me hope, not make me even more depressed (there was very little "more depressed" I could have gotten at the time).

Obviously this woman has either had a super-blessed life, or has repressed the normal pain and anguish that goes along with teenage life. Then again, anyone who believes in "breaking the poppet's spirit" as a child-rearing technique needs to have CPS called on her ass. I can almost guarantee that that experience is going to end up screwing up her children in their later years.

Thank you so much for doing a write-up about this! I love to read YA lit (I'm in my mid-20s) and I recently finished my Master's in Library Science, so this is the kind of thing I really need to pay attention to. I'm not on Twitter, but I made sure to signal-boost this on my blog.

It's not right for children to read! Soon they start getting ideas and thinking...

You know, if you find yourself making the same argument as a Disney villain, you might wanna re-evaluate your premises. I'm just saying.

*grin* I was thinking the same thing.

I think that it really depends on what the issue is. There's a world of difference between books that address things in a sensitive way and "ZOMG self-mutilation is edgy, I'm so cool for writing this!!!"

At 12, I was tearing out my hair and sticking pins in my arms and hands. I attempted to cut myself with a kitchen knife but it wasn't sharp enough to be effective. I made several efforts to find razor blades but my parents were wise enough to see to it that none were available. I scratched myself until I bled on a pretty regular basis.

I read Judy Blume and thought the kids in her books were jerks. It wasn't until college that I found books about kids who self-mutilated and those were outright offensive to me. It was so very obvious that the authors had never experienced what I went through, but for some bizarre reason thought that they could co-opt that experience in order to make themselves and other people who didn't have my experience feel cool. It made me feel even worse about who I was as an adolescent and to this day I don't feel comfortable talking about it.

I don't think that any normal kid, or even a messed up kid, is going to start self-mutilating because they read it in a book. I didn't even know there was such a thing and it took me a long time to connect the dots between a kid cutting themselves with a razor and me shoving pins into my fingers. Under normal circumstances, this kind of stuff really hurts and you're not going to seek that out. There's a lot more to it than "Oh I feel bad about myself, I think I'll scratch my leg until I bleed and then I'll just keep right on doing it because I hate myself and all. Hmmm I bet I could hurt myself way more if I had a razor blade!"

Damn, I think I have to post about this. I have too much to say for a comment and it's all so teal deer too.

I've always wondered if some people think most adults spring fully formed from the heads of their parents and the ones of us who have to *gasp* grow up! are a waste of their time.

(Like the lolarious signs all around my neighborhood about some church group that will solve the problems of addiction! martial strife! youth! Bwah?)

The way some people act about all non-adults in general makes me wonder if they think children are actually aliens or something. They clearly don't remember their growing up years.

I especially can't believe that people want to act that way about teenagers, who are practically adults already, and are only less than a decade off of potentially being *the boss*. At the very least, where has all the enlightened self-interest gone?

I work in a bookstore and everytime I see someone come to my register with a shit-ton stack of YA it warms my heart. I've been reading since I was two, my parents never deprived me of books.

I think the vast majority of young adults in the world would be surprised to hear that their first introduction to violence, abuse, depression, rape, etc. is through books. This idea that childhood is a special time, void of responsibilities and shielded from the excesses, violence, and ugliness of the real world, is a relatively new idea and applies only to the privileged populations of the wealthiest nations.

Also, in regard to graphic violence, rape, incest, you name it, the Bible is one of the worst offenders, but good lucking getting most parents to go along with pulling that one from libraries.

It really frustrates me when people who have no knowledge of how the world really works--and usually their ignorance is willful--want to force their delusional worldview on everyone else. It's the same argument time and again: if our children read it/hear it/see it/play it they will start doing it because no respectable kid would do these things otherwise.

LOL, yes, the Bible's got some crazy stuff....

(Deleted comment)
I read that as "teen pátron" at first and was confused as hell. Teen bosses? Bosses of what, per se?


Log in

No account? Create an account