To the Person Who Hates My YA Book Because of All the Sex In It

TW: Rape

August 2021

To The Person Who Hates My YA Book Because of All the Sex In It,

Technically, my book How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe hasn’t been released yet. Technically, you don’t exist.

But you will exist.

I know this because you are there, writing hate reviews on every single YA book that contains a mention of sex. And if you’re doing that, you’re going to especially hate my book because one of its main themes is sex. You will ask, Is all this sex necessary? You will conclude, No, of course it isn’t.

And I’m here to tell you, yes, “all this sex” is necessary, for this reason:

It took me five years to realize that I had been raped.

How did this happen? How did it take me five whole years to realize that I had been raped?

To answer these questions, we need to go back to when I first learned about sex.

The people who raised me never spoke about sex except to slut-shame. Thus, my education about sex came largely from Western culture. The culture—yours, and mine—taught me:

  • Men are obsessed with sex and will do anything to get it.

  • Women are responsible for men’s libidos—whether they stay or cheat, whether they rape or abuse. It is always the fault of the woman.

  • The only appropriate time for a woman to lose her virginity is on the night of her wedding.

  • Sex is impure and sinful and very, very bad. Ultimately, there is no “good” sex.

You may not exist yet, reader who hates my novel, but because we were raised in the same sexist and patriarchal culture, I can already predict what your reviews will say. Young adults should not read about sex because they are too young. They should read about young people practicing abstinence, or maybe sex should not come up at all. The story could have done without all the sex and it would have been so much better.

And while I acknowledge your points, and even see where they come from, respectfully: No.

Do you know what happens when teenagers do not come across a single story of sex positivity in their entire lives?

Do you know what happens when you refuse to talk about sex except around the words “abstain” and “marriage”?

Do you know what happens when you force the culture at large to educate young people about sex?

You get a young woman who is raped for years without knowing it. Even after the last rape, it takes her five years to realize it was rape.

You are uncomfortable with sex. Please don’t act like you protecting your own discomfort is “for young people.” It is not. It is selfish to claim it is.

Now, let me tell you what happens when young people read books with scenes and themes of sex positivity. They learn:

  • Consent

  • Protection

  • That sex should feel good

  • That it’s okay to not want to!

  • That it’s okay to want to!

  • That it’s okay to want to with many genders!

  • That they are okay.

Why would you ever want to deprive young people of this?

I wrote How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe for myself. For the teenager I was, saying yes only because I was afraid he’d kill me. For the young woman who believed there was no way sex was supposed to feel good. For that same young woman, five years later, reading the definition of rape and falling to the ground in tears.

Let young people learn from books that sex can be messy and beautiful. Safe and respectful. Wild and emotional. Let them learn that women are not ever sluts and people of all genders can be gentle and patient and kind. Let them learn to love their bodies and each other.

Don’t let another person be educated about sex by the general culture. Because if you are so uncomfortable with sex that you can’t even read about it, then that means you probably refuse to discuss sex in the open, honest way young people need to speak about it. And young people need to learn these things somewhere. Sex positivity in young adult fiction is an excellent start.