1. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Sexuality in young characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by mad_hatter, Aug 17, 2015.

    What’s the consensus when giving sexuality to young characters?

    I’m writing horror, but I don’t want me or my story to come over as being exploitative. It’s difficult when the genre, by default, is already somewhat exploitative. I’d imagine that writing sexually aware teenagers in drama would be far less frowned upon than it would in horror.

    So, for my exact examples, I’ve just written a scene where a 16 year old girl looks at herself in the mirror and comments that her breasts have gotten smaller. Later I will write a scene where a 15 year old girl talks about a couple of sexual encounters she’s had with the boys from school. I will not write anything to explicit, certainly no descriptions of the acts themselves, but what’s the thought on even having teenage characters talk about these things?
     
  2. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Well normally you really only see it in teen fiction, and more in "real life" drama than anything else, but I don't think it would be frowned upon or anything. Just make sure it serves some purpose and not just fanservice.
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is one of those Depends on how you do it -situations, isn't it? Kids and teenagers do discuss sex, after all, so at least it's realistic. You show of your characters whatever you deem pertinent to the scene. Why does the girl comment on her breasts? Did she have a boob job? Is she pointing out her period has ended and how is that significant? Is she looking for attention? Or is it a device to show the reader she's small-breasted? I tend to think that kind of stuff when I give my characters lines. Whatever I deem realistic and relevant, I keep. As for your examples, I don't personally find them problematic.
     
  4. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    It would be kind of messed up to write it as porn (and illegal under the obscenity laws, though those are rarely enforced), but if it serves an actual narrative or thematic purpose, I don't have a problem with it. Those conversations are part of real life, after all.
     
  5. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think purely written works are covered by child pornography laws in either the US or UK (a British MP introduced a bill to ban it in the last parliament, but it never got anywhere).
     
  6. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    The child porn laws don't, but the old US obscenity laws do, and they're still on the books in a lot of states. Not sure if they're still being enforced outside of a few isolated incidents.
     
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  7. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Oh yeah... I'm not thinking about writing some kind of erotica featuring youngsters. Regardless of laws, that's neither something I want to read or write.

    I guess I was just feeling a little uncomfortable as a 30 year old man, trying to put words of a sexual nature into the mouths of teens. My aim would be for it to be realistic.
     
  8. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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    I don't think there would be a problem with that at all - the first is perfectly normal anyway, and the second... it happens everywhere. If anyone gets offended by it, it's their problem, not yours.
     
  9. Samson Michael
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    Samson Michael Member

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    John Green did a decent job with this in "Looking for Alaska." While he isn't the best writer, the actual themes within the book were handled with surprising maturity and sexuality is one of those major themes. I agree with what pretty much everyone else said too. Do what is necessary for the story. As Elena said, don't worry about offending people. If they are offended by your content, it's their own business, not yours.
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    15 and 16 year olds discussing sex is absolutely realistic and not creepy. Well, the creepiness depends how it's done, but it's not inherently creepy. I can see why you'd feel uncomfortable but as long as it isn't gratuitous I'm sure it's fine.
     
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  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The Supreme Court has ruled that such depictions in literature can be protected by the First Amendement. Obscenity is a category that is not protected by the First Amendment at all, but the Court has rejected the idea that literature depicting sexual situations between minors (or even minors and adults) is outside the scope of the First Amendment.
     
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  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    In YA fiction, the lead character is usually a sixteen-year-old girl. Sex is a topic that does come up in YA. For instance, in the Tomorrow series. Can't say I've come across it in any others, though, but I haven't read widely in the genre.
     
  13. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Hmm. Does it have to have some sort of redeeming social value for that (i.e. not straight-up erotica)?
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, but literature describing sex including minors isn't automatically precluded from that. It doesn't become obscene, legally, just because of that fact. Congress tried to make that the case, but the Supreme Court struck it down.
     

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