This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a weekly discussion post of all things bookish (though sometimes not-so-bookish)
Alright, this is me we’re talking about so by now we all know when Larissa does a discussion that it either doesn’t relate to books at all, or does so in some very roundabout way but always has some sort of feministic angle. Fuck yeah. Now that we got that established let’s get into my (inevitably long) addition to Discussing Through Midnight. Which is actually pretty sexual this week #noregrets
The day has come upon YA Midnight Reads, a day which will divide us into opposing forces: reasonable, self-respecting people against 50 Shades of Grey, and the those fans who romanticize the toxic relationship in the book.
(I suppose there could be a 3rd, neutral party who hasn’t even heard about this war or doesn’t even care, in which case, you chose best, my friend. Run while you still can.)
To recap: Everyone knows that book is a useless doorstop of poor writing, abusive relationships masquerading as both love and BDSM, with the tropiest Mary-Sue-y-iest of awful characters, and it is completely useless at this point to bother reading it even to fuel your argument against it (which is why I haven’t. Which is why I am trying to let other sources do the talking). The people who don’t know this are baffled by the army of fans, wondering how on earth they could ever support something so ethically terrible and with such a poor grasp on words.
What must be done is a widespread resource campaign to get them to become educated. People will more likely change their views on something if given the opportunity to come to that conclusion on their own, at least, if they believe they did so on their own. And sense I doubt there is any school in America giving classes on BDSM 101, I have taken pity on these people.
I am going to start this off with I think might be one of the funniest stories of my life, which would definitely go in my memoir.
When I was eleven or so, I accidentally purchased erotic fiction from a thrift store.
How does one accidentally purchase erotic fiction? Well first, you probably have to be a really idiotic 11 year old with a crazy short attention span that when plucking a seemingly innocent book (actually it was several books, it was a series, and I was so excited that the store had all of them) off the unorganized shelves of a local thrift store, you fail to read the entirety of the summery on the back before you decide to buy them. You see I was in a hardcore (not in the pornographic sense, thank you) fairy tale retelling phase. My favorite book back then was Snow by Tracey Lynn which was part of this awesome YA series that retold all the fairy tales you could ever hope for by various authors; but they weren’t terribly easy to find in bookstores. I was hungry for anything vaguely like them.
So, when my aunt took me to a thrift store and I find some extraordinarily inexpensive books retelling the tale of Sleeping Beauty, with really unsuspecting covers, of course I am going to want them. And my aunt, either not paying attention or not knowing, bought them for me without hesitation.
Additionally, I was really ignorant about sex at that moment in my life. I can’t at this point put myself in the frame of mind that I had as an eleven year old, but it was sort of a vague understanding that this thing called sex existed, and that it was dirty and I wasn’t supposed to be talking about it, or knowing about it probably, because it was for adults, and it would probably get me in a lot of trouble. I was terrified of getting in trouble, so I wouldn’t even say the word until I got into the Sex Pistols at an older age. How I ever figured out anything about the subject is mostly a mystery to me now, and for everything prior to my formal in-school education, I blame TV for that knowledge because my parents were absolutely useless in teaching me anything.
After we left the thrift store, I took my new books and thought I should probably finish reading that back cover; and I when I did, I panicked. The summery described that our princess would not be awakened with a kiss, but sexual intercourse (in more words), and I was smart enough to know that an endorsement from playboy probably meant I shouldn’t be reading this material. I don’t recall what I said, but I confessed to my aunt immediately. I knew she would tell my parents and I could just imagine all the trouble I was about to get in. Mostly, I was really annoyed that my exciting new books had turned against me and I no longer had anything to read.
I was probably crying when my aunt told my dad what happened; he was laughing. Laughing! I was miserable and he thought the whole thing was really funny. I didn’t get in any trouble for some reason, and my aunt brought them back to the thrift store and lectured the poor workers about being more ethical about how they sort things (I am sure they were as ignorant as I was). It was all very traumatic for me, despite the way the adults seemed to find it all really amusing, and made a deep impression on my memories.
Now, I am almost entirely certain the books I bought were the Anne Rice Sleeping Beauty trilogy (at least 2 out of the 3, if not all of them), original editions no less. I’ll let you search these books on your own, but in short, even the summery on the back of the book barely gets into what they’re really about.
And the reason why I remembered this story is because I actively sought out that book last week, and in some sort of rebellious act against 50 Shades, read it.
I don’t really have a great moral lesson or self-realization to go along with that story, now that I am writing it out. I just really liked the irony involved, or maybe the really weird coincidences in life.
I think, the thing I wanted to share is, I now lack the shame I had then. I am discovering, very recently, that I am an adult, and I can do as I please. And that is very, very exciting. I want to tell my eleven year old self to chill (and frankly, my current self too sometimes). And I wanted you all to know it’s ok too.
It also makes me wish that there was more (or better) sex positive education out there, in a sense that healthy and safe sexual relationships are promoted. I don’t want there to be confusion and a lack of information out there for people who are trying to seek it. I don’t want sex to be so taboo and misinterpreted that it explodes in an ugly abusive form like in Fifty Shades. I don’t want quotes (like these creepy ones) to be romanticized and seen as something to strive towards.
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