Foz Meadows makes some great points about the ties between the Young Adult fiction genre and sexual confidence in young women. I really enjoyed reading this blog article because I remember being a young, impressionable teen girl. I remember classmates making fun of me for daring to read a romance novel in front of them, while boys could show off their porn mags without protest. I want to see a world where young girls can be safe and confident to explore their sexuality, instead of shamed and terrified.
Trigger warning: some mention of rape
TMI warning: masturbatory themes
In Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Habibi (which is problematic to say the least), there’s a scene where Zam, a preadolescent boy, watches with horror as his female caregiver and sole companion, Dodola, is raped. As Zam and Dodola live alone in the desert – and as, through a strange twist of circumstances, Dodola is less than ten years Zam’s senior – his sexual awakening has thus far consisted of a burgeoning, awkward attraction to Dodola, who is quite literally the only woman he knows. But after he witnesses her rape, he starts to loathe his own sexuality. Because that single, awful, abusive image is Zam’s sole frame of reference for adult sex, it’s what he pictures whenever he tries to imagine himself with Dodola; instinctively, he recoils from it, but without any knowledge of what consensual sex might look like…
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