books aren’t just what we do, they’re who we are

Sex in Context

One of the blogs I read regularly is Blue Rose Girls, an interesting collective of children’s book professionals including writers, artists, a former librarian, and an editor. The post yesterday said, in part:

Some of you may have seen a video on the blog today. There one minute, gone the next. It was a stop animation of two upholstered chairs doing “the nasty” on a rooftop.[…] I should explain that I put it up because it’s a very cool and artistic video. Artistic creative things get my artistic creative juices flowing. I make books by being inspired. Enough said.

But someone complained that it wasn’t appropriate for a children’s book blog, and so it came down.
Unfortunately, that kind of thing happens all the time, where we self-censor in order not to be thought of by some other, unknown group as something deviant, or wrong, or overly emotional, etc. Lots of words that could otherwise just mean creative or opinionated.
But moving on. What I wanted to talk about was a further discussion in the same place about how sex and nudity is treated in children’s books. You can say that a video of people having sex is inappropriate on a blog for kids, which of course it would be, but when it’s chairs? On a blog for adults that’s ABOUT children’s books? And what about when characters have sex in books? When is it right or appropriate? Is it all about the context? What about naked images in picture books? I can recall a brouhaha when a picture book featured a naked female form and was called to be censored — never mind that it was about a kid in a museum and the naked form was a piece of classic art.
it reminds me of when some people though John Green’s Looking for Alaska was inappropriate because of a sex scene, never mind the Printz Award. The scene was the opposite of sexy, but was very very real for the characters.
I don’t know, maybe this is too deep a subject for a hot Tuesday morning. But I don’t like the idea of something like this getting shoved under a rug. What do you think? To narrow it down to just one question, what kind of sex is appropriate in teen fiction, or on a blog about teen fiction?

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