Romance in YA books is quite prevalent, and people read them all the time. But what do we do when those romance books are spreading a harmful, dangerous message?
I recently read a book in which one of the male characters in the novel kissed a female character totally by surprise and without her consent, and then proceeded to wonder why she was upset and angry. Needless to say, I ended up DNF-ing it.
Especially in many contemporary/romance novels, when the boy kisses the girl when she’s angry and/or ranting and he does it essentially to shut her up, that just perpetuates the notion that what she has to say isn’t important and if you just kiss her and give her some sexual gratification, you won’t have to listen to it. To me, that’s dangerous. That’s essentially saying that girls don’t have voices that matter and have important things to say.
When I was younger, I never really thought of it as something bad, maybe even something romantic, but now, as I’m older and I understand more, I know that it’s not okay. And we need to change messages in books, especially those geared towards young girls, to say that what you think and what you say is important. And no one should shut you up. Say what you will.
TW// Consent has also a larger place in the world. If you’ve been keeping up with current events (you should!), Kesha sued her producer Dr. Luke for drugging and raping her, as well as verbally abusing her to the point where she developed an eating disorder and was sent to a rehabilitation program. This is exactly what rape culture is. The fact that there was no consent between their interactions and the fact that the judge basically excused Luke for his crimes is not okay. Rape culture is so prevalent in this country (and all around the world) that we’re starting from the bottom—we’re starting from where young readers read a book and they see a situation where there’s no consent in two characters’ interactions and they think it’s okay, it’s normal, it’s romantic. But it’s not.
We need to step up and say that consent is important! Consent is crucial for a healthy relationship between two (or more) people! Consent is imperative in real life and lives all around the world. And this needs to start by promoting the idea that if it’s not consensual, it’s not okay and that consent is something that should be seen as a natural part of a healthy relationship.
Have you ever come across a book that oversteps some boundaries? Do you agree with me or disagree? Let me know your thoughts—I want to know what you think!