One of my most basic presuppositions about humans is that they are very impressionable and, under the right circumstances, can be easily manipulated. I think this is especially true for youth.
So. Going along with that presupposition…we have teens—highly impressionable, (potentially) easily manipulated teens—that are being exposed to ideas about who they are, who they are supposed to be, what constitutes a relationship, what constitutes a good relationship, etc.
And then, we have YA books that serve as idea-givers alongside other sources of media, from tv to radio to the net and beyond.
Are you beginning to see the magnitude of such influence??? (If you haven’t already, that is?) But back to making my main point…
Another presupposition that I hold to about teenagers is that they are valuable.
When I combine those two presuppositions and look at what some romance in YA fiction offers, I don’t just become irritated; I become grieved. I become infuriated. I become confused.
Why? Because teenagers are often portrayed as cripplingly hormone-driven; they can’t make rational decisions. Or, my personal pet peeve, because teenagers are portrayed as incapable of having a truly meaningful, mature relationship without being physically involved in some way (a kiss is one thing; a make-out session is another.)
Here’s an idea: maybe if we didn’t force the perception that teens act this way because they are this way, they wouldn’t believe the perception.
We can change the world.
Ideas are perpetuated by the feedback of those around us. What others think of us is a powerful tool of manipulation. It’s so powerful that we adopt such perceptions without realizing that they are not, in fact, ours. But we will think they are. And, eventually, they will become ours.
Many synopses draw teens into reading a novel by targeting the physical—there’s a hunky, muscular character, the romance is dripping with sex appeal, etc. I mean, seriously? Dripping with sex appeal? (I actually read that somewhere…and I still almost can’t believe it!)
That isn’t something that should be aimed towards teenagers if we want to give them the impression that their value is found in something other than what they can offer (or be given) physically.
A relationship based on sex will NEVER work. Never. Sex isn't the glue of a relationship—it’s a piece or two of confetti and a few sprinkles. It isn't the cake mix, it's a layer of frosting.
Teens are worth more than this garbage that people offer them and assume they will not only accept, but appreciate.
As a YA author, I want to write about teens with their edification and humanity in mind. I want them to realize that not everyone thinks that they are objects whose affections can be toyed with for monetary gain.
I choose to honor, respect, and cherish the youth of this world for all they are and all they can be…
I want to change the world.