As I am slogging through a particularly dense critical text for Genre History Crit and Theory, I reach a chapter titled "And then I came" Sex and Power in Adolescent Literature. Consquently it has been the most interesting chapter in the book thus far, despite the dense technical jargon. One of the points it brings up is how, since adults are the authors, they impose societal and their own bias and condemnations on teens having sex in their books. Truthfully I never stopped to think about how many books punish their sexually active characters with ruin, pregnancy, or death. Most of the time, its the woman who suffers more for her promiscuity, which means even though our societal is supposed to be much more accepting and free, we still haven't come all that far from Hester Prynne. Gays and lesbians have the even rawer deal, as half of their texts concentrate on trying to normalize "gayness", but they also often end in death, ruin, or just a really bad day. Even the few books the writer points out are on the more positive side don't really cut it for me.
So how do I feel about sex in my stories? I know its a tricky subject. I like to think of myself as a open minded person, but even as a teenager, I KNEW there were consequences to sex if you did not protect yourself. There were girls in my small hometown class who went through pregnancy or abortions before we graduated. But I can't condemn them. They all have their reasons for sex. I personally chose not to in high school. But the second I got to college all bets were off.
Character wise, I've never really thought about how I handle sex or intimate scenes in my stories. In my thesis piece, I have sexually experienced woman who is being pursued by a virgin male. He makes the first move, but she puts him off for many of his first attempts. Although she is attracted to him, she does not want to ruin his innocence, and she doesn't want to become deeply involved with him because she knows she is terminally ill. But sex does come into play eventually, as love kinda steam rolls it over. In this case I guess I am promoting the bias that sex should come after love. And my female protagonist is going to die. But I don't consider her punished for her sexual activity.
In Blue Zone however, the chapter I am writing write now has Mina engage in kiss that she intiates without love. At first she thinks she is sleep walking in a dream, but she quickly realizes she's more "awake" than asleep. However she takes advantage of this state because the one she kisses, Felix, assumes she is alseep and believes she will forget the action. Hopes she will forget in fact as he feels he has taken advantage of her even though she is the one doing the kissing. It is a dynamic I hope to play on later of Mina's feminine power over Felix.
Is Mina a virgin. If I wrote a character profile of her, I'm not sure how I would tackle this question. She is sixteen, which is the older end of the high school spectrum, and she is mature through life experience. But I don't think she trusts men with her father issues of abandonment. It is food for thought. I think I have to really think on the subject for a bit.