In the Huffington Post, there are ten teenage bloggers who set about voicing their feelings about love and relationship at their age.
The ten points are as follows:
- Beware of social media
- Sometimes breaking up is a good way to find yourself
- There’s no rush into a relationship
- The Word Love should not be thrown around
- It’s totally ok if you don’t find ‘true love’ in high school
- Everyone deserves to find true love… even celebs.
- You should never have to change yourself for anybody
- Love should be equal
- Turns out music can teach us a lot about love
- Loving yourself is the most important kind of love
I love that these articles have come from the mouths of teenagers. Odelia Kaly speaks about the music that inspired her spirituality and love from the age of 13. She speaks about the lyrics of Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros.
It’s worth seeing her words here:
‘I wasn’t in desperate need of a cosmic intervention per se when I discovered the band’s first CD, Up From Below. I was only 13, but the music spoke to me in a way that everyone else was afraid to. They sang of intense love, of sexual desire, of mind-altering substances, of things that 13-year-olds are taught, generally, to be wrong. But I was never deterred by the messages I was sent throughout my childhood. When I read Romeo and Juliet, I found myself even more attracted to the idea of I’ll-die-for-you love; everyone else in my seventh grade class wrote their papers arguing free will, whereas I was the sole student that fervently argued the power of fate. Our “adolescent issues” class was aimed at teaching us the perils of teenage sexual encounters (“If you have sex you will get pregnant and die” — Mean Girls) and the irreversible dangers of alcohol and illicit drugs (say no to everyone! Everyone is trying to get you addicted to everything! Say NO!), and I will admit that for a while, I religiously, for lack of a better word, believed in those rules. And then I heard the music.’ Odelia Kaly
I admire the fact that most of these bloggers talk about the importance of not losing oneself in love. The traditional love story often spoke of transcending one’s own self to fit more easily into the ideal of a lover – many of these young bloggers have an interesting perspective on this – with Riley Griffin stating ‘You should never have to change yourself for anybody’.
But what of literature aimed at teens? How, especially if not written by teens, does fiction make meaning of the ideals contained in the Huffington Post blog. Written Word Worlds by Sarah Robinson-Hatch is a YA fiction specialist as she is a YA herself and reads fiction widely. She comments frequently about the relationships, love interests and hook ups of various books she has read. They are mostly quite traditional in their flavour.
In quest of how kinky or non-traditionally set ‘romance’ (sex) is viewed, I came across Rebecca Sparrow. She had some really good discussion points of view with teenage girls on the topic of 50 Shades of Gray. Firstly, although teenagers weren’t the first thought in this realm, Sparrow shows that ‘that ship has already sailed’ when surrounded by 16 and 17 year olds at the cinema. She has six points that are discussed on her twitter blog:
- Consent is an ongoing conversation when it comes to sex.
- Losing your virginity is usually a lot less sexy and way more awkward
- Obsession and persistence are not signs that someone really, really loves you
- Condoms do not kill the mood
- Fifty Shades is a messed up fairytale
- When something you are doing in the bedroom is making someone else cry (and they’re not tears of happiness) – you stop
These are all excellent points of discussion to have with YA about love and sex.
Another messed up little romance is ‘Twilight’. Edward stalks Bella in ‘Twilight’. He literally hangs out in her bedroom while she sleeps. It could be said that he is ‘grooming’ her, given that she is sixteen and he is over a hundred years old. There is definitely an unequal power play between the two of them. However, at the time of its popularity, Twilight’s romance between Edward and Bella was seen as pretty hot by YA consumers. It was evocative of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with its themes of ‘forbidden love’ and unsustainable relationships because of huge over-riding factors. Emancipated women of the 60s would be unhappy with the trend towards women and girls portrayals in some contemporary popular texts. ‘Nate talks to you’ is a Vlog that expresses ‘anti-feministic’ sentiments – he wraps it in confusing rhetoric about the women and girls he shows being from ‘white, middle class’ backgrounds thus making it less valid to complain about perceived oppression:
Lastly, Vanessa Broadbent shows a disturbing social group who are antifeminist. They state that they don’t need feminism because they respect men and men respect them. Vanessa shows that feminism is about achieving equality, not dominance. Interesting times ahead are reflected in texts presented to YA.
Odelia Kaly www.twitter.com/youre_a_tulle