Sex is normal - so why do we shield our teens from it?

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Recently I tried to join an online writers group. I have been a member of online writers groups before, but for one reason or other they didn't work out and I was looking for a more supportive community. I read the rules and guidelines of this particular online writing group and it seemed to fit in well with my goals. I signed up and in my introductory post I told everyone a bit about myself. Who I was, why I wanted to join and what genre I wrote in.
"Romance, erotic romance and erotica" my post said.
"Sorry, we don't critique erotica," came the reply. "Any other genre is fine, but not erotica. We have teens among our members, I am sure you understand." (Note: none of this was in their guidelines.)

Sex is bad, violence is fine

Sadly, this reaction to sex is not uncommon. Society still has a very strange attitude to anything related to sex. This writers group experience of mine was just to highlight an issue that is prevailing in all of society. Anything sex related is called "adult content". But why is it only sex that is reserved for adults? We seem to be fine with our teens reading horror stories, crime novels, thrillers, where violence is rife. These themes seem to be fit for teen consumption, but a story about two people finding ways to make each other feel good are out of the question.

You can see evidence of this in the rating of movies. Any movies with (partial) nudity or a more than vague reference to sex automatically receives a higher age rating. Flash some boobs and you find yourself in 18+ or R territory. But by the same token, having people shoot each other up is fine. My children have watched 12 rated movies with more violence than I think is good for them. But I can at least rest assured that they won't see any scenes of two people loving each other. Same with games: a game where you can have sex with a prostitute was shot down as too mature for children, but no one objected to the killing of said prostitute.

Sex is to be celebrated

I am not suggesting that our children and teens should be able to watch porn indiscriminately. Explicitly violent and gory movies are still given a higher rating as well. But I am talking about a sex scene where you may see a little flesh, maybe a boob or a bum. A sex scene in a book where the characters talk openly about what they want, what makes them feel good. What are we afraid of? Why is it okay with us that our teens learn about the best way to shoot someone, but not about the best way to pleasure someone?

Sex is to be celebrated. Sex is a wonderful, joyous act between two people which has as ultimate goal that both people feel better after doing it. And I also think that if more young people were allowed to watch "good" sex on the screen, or read about it in books - sex scenes which feature consent and communication - they will grow up to have better sex lives. We need to educate our young people about sex, bring it out into the open so they don't feel awkward asking questions. We need to be able to communicate to them the best ways of having a sexual relationship (one that goes further than just saying "use a condom").

Sex education matters

Sex education is important. People who receive good sex education when they are young grow up to have healthy sexual relationships. And when sex becomes a normal part of life - what am I saying? Sex is a normal part of life - when sex is presented in society as a normal part of life, young people will feel more empowered to explore, to ask questions and to become better lovers. How can that be a bad thing?

I recently had a discussion with my 25 year old sister. We were talking about sex, about her struggles in her marriage in that department and she said, "I love that you talk about sex as if it's something completely normal." She had never been able to talk to anyone about her unsatisfactory sex life. And seeing as sex is such a big part of a healthy relationship, that was a real shame, nay, a travesty. I really felt for her that she didn't have any resources to her disposal to teach her how to get better sex.

We need to do better. We need to normalise sex in our lives, in our media, in our conversation. We need to stop being hypocritical and hiding behind "these are adult themes", especially if we only apply this to sex and not violence.

I am all about celebrating (female) sexuality and advocating better sexual education. Please follow me if you agree with the need for better sexual education.

Please read my post on how we can ensure the TimesUp movement succeeds.

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I think @gmuxx handled this well, rhondak, not so much. Nice post, Isabella.

You are free to discuss sex with whoever you want, but as a community The Writers' Block has a responsibility to its members old and young, and we take that seriously. However perhaps we should make it clear in our guidelines that we do not critique erotica.

She didn't name y'all. She didn't even say the community was on Steem/Discord. She used her experience to make a point. You and @rhondak are the ones who decided to make this about your group, and in the process have made it clear how unwelcoming, rigid, and downright mean the leading attitudes are.

Good to know, I guess?

Indeed. Certain people are definitely a bad fit for our group and we don’t waste time trying to cater to them. That frees us up to commit maximum resources to the serious-minded writers who are invested in their craft. As a result, we have a very engaged community with almost no drama.

This may be the ugliest comment that I have ever read on Steem, and I have read some pretty low down disgusting trolling before.

Oh, believe me--I can show you some much uglier ones. Aimed at me.

I find it interesting that you think it's okay for someone to falsify information about an encounter (I could care less that she didn't name names--she bloated and exaggerated a situation and presented false information looking to rally a cause.) I also find it interesting that you find a factual statement made about the environment of our community on Steemit to be offensive. I assume this to mean that you take issue with the fact that we don't allow drama and focus on serious writers, whether they are new to the craft or experienced? This is puzzling, and I think you're in the minority, seeing as how our group is jammed packed and stays busy 24/7, is one of the largest writing groups on Discord, partnered with the largest writing group on Discord with zero drama. . . I'm sorry, @carlgnash. I simply don't understand what bothers you about that. Maybe we're supposed to have problems internally and struggle round the clock for you to think we're appropriate?

For reference, I'm posting screenshots of the "unwelcoming" attitude our group had toward Isabelle Lauren when she came into the group. She's the one who didn't give us a chance, not the other way around. So it is very much an affront to see her on Steemit whining about needing a "more supportive community."

Given the welcome she actually did receive, I think folks should be asking themselves exactly why her exploits with other online writing groups "didn't work out."

Shes trying to be nice. And your treatment of her here on the blockchain has only confirmed her fears. Not to mention your attack on @britlib16

Threatening to flag her and calling steemcleaners

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There are nice people in there but you should let ppl know that its not a nurturing atmosphere and that you the leader and gmuxx another strong leader are so insanely opposed to these genres.

Question, what makes you think that isabelle lauren is drama? Because she thought that she would be welcomed and then didnt feel that way and left or that she used a vague reference to highlight her experience ( btw she didn't misquote anyone)

What about isabelle lauren says that shes not a serious-minded writer??

When you say you don't waste time on people it makes them feel insignificant and unimportant.

Your insistance that the way you talk to people is completely rational and welcoming is being supported by the people in your group.

As i have been checked so many times by my team,i encourageyour team to also do so-- if the have the genitals to do so. Sure hope there isnt too much "drama"

Maybe best to include it in your guidelines yes. You are of course free to censor whatever you want in your own writing group. I am just surprised that you are fine with "any other genre" except for erotic romance. So all the many many genres involving violence are fine for your young readers? Horror, crime, thrillers? I fully understand you wanting to censor content due to your young readers, but why just sex? That is what I try to address in my blog post.

Censor is the wrong term here. Would you expect us to force our editors to critique erotica, even though they explicitly refuse to? To what end? Satisfy one or two erotica writers?

You were saying you don't allow erotica because of your readers. I am asking why are you allowing horror, thrillers, crime novels for your young readers, but not novels involving sex. I never said anyone should be forced to critique erotica and your main argument was young readers, not unwillingness of members to critique erotica.

Yes, there are two reasons we don't critique erotica. I'm not going to argue with you, just stating that this is our stance. We also don't critique gratuitous violence. Are we wrong there too?

We don't allow gratuitous anything in our group. Mainly because it reads like ass anyway and none of our editors want to waste their time on anything that isn't decent quality.

Sorry to barge in, but honestly i think @rhondak's replies are too confrontational. seriously. she didn't even mention you guys. you could have just ignored.

Sure we could have. Because that's what all the snowflakes expect everyone to do--either give in to them or ignore them. Surprise! This is the real world. Post passive aggressive stuff to the blockchain, you might just get a response that doesn't pander to you.

Absolutely this should be in y our guidelines, if it is a guideline. If this is something that you would tell a writer - this is not an allowed genre - that is 100% the kind of thing that guidelines are intended to cover. That is in fact, why you have guidelines, is it not? This is pretty amazing to me. I personally feel the guideline is incredibly misguided. What is wrong with America in particular and the western world in general that sex is such a taboo topic? I could not agree with the sentiment behind the parent post more. I absolutely think that healthy and positive examples of sex and sexuality are not something to be ashamed of. The Writers' Block is going to be missing out on a pretty amazing writer and thinker, I have been very impressed with @isabellelauren's posting since I found a post of hers to nominate for a @curie some short time ago. Your loss.

Well, I wasn't impressed. I did read some of her stuff. She could definitely use a good editor. So. . .everyone has an opinion, I guess.

Absolutely this should be in y our guidelines, if it is a guideline.

You seem to be inferring I made it up. It's been in our submission form for a while. Now, thanks to this post, it's front and center, just so there is no misunderstanding going forward.

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I find it astounding that the author of this post should be allowed to post what she wants where she wants, but we as a community cannot choose to accept it in our workflow. Our editors don't want to touch erotica. Should we have to force them? Do they not have a choice? Do the parents of teens who use our community not have the choice what their children see, or should we force their kids to see it? As a parent to 4 children, I know which I'd prefer.

It's definitely all one-sided with people like this. Rights of others don't matter. Only their rights to throw tantrums and tell tales and harm other people. This is the opposite of feminism. True feminists (and a few have seen this post and these comments) are appalled by the attitudes here that feel quite like a reverse misogyny. I predict a very short, troubled run for this little sect of psychological terrorists.

I was certainly not inferring that you made it up. I was just saying, yes, absolutely, this should have been in your guidelines the whole time. I personally do think it is very strange that parents are fine with kids being exposed to violence and not sex. But yes, everyone can make up their own mind about this issue and as a writing community of course you are welcome to set guidelines. Note the word "guidelines" :) No offense intended @gmuxx and I don't see that you are being offensive here. I cannot say the same for @rhondak. I would urge an internal discussion among Writer's Block members on if you truly want to associate with someone who very obviously cannot comport herself in a manner befitting a public representative of an organization.

Guess who founded The Writers' Block, @carlgnash? And guess whose leadership grew it into the success that it is? LOL! My take-no-shit approach to keeping troublemakers OUT of our community and keeping it safe for all our hard-working members is exactly why it's as close-knit and productive as it is. And by the way--if you read carefully, you'll see that GMuxx clearly said that our stance on erotica has always been in our guidelines. And it has. We just moved it closer to the beginning of the document so that people who have a challenge reading can see it before they TLDR.

Furthermore, nobody ever said we don't deal with sex in novels we submit to the queue. Some of us can write some pretty racy stuff. But there's a difference between sex that moves the plot forward and sex that is the entire plot. We don't deal with erotica as a genre because for the most part, our folks don't like it. Our editors don't like working with it because in order to bring it up to the standards we can get behind, a story needs an arc and character development, not just pages of word porn. If your problem is that you think we're censoring it, you might ought to take up a complaint with Steemit because the community guidelines call for such writing, photos, and videos to be labeled NSFW. I'm surprised the arrows haven't started flying toward that concession to propriety as well.

you are so right, we have this culture of shame when it comes to sex, yet it is one of the most natural things in the world. If we were educating young people about sex in the right way, in a healthy normal way and at the same time educating people about their bodies. We would have a much more natural healthy view of sex and be more open about it. I am so lucky to have an amazing friend who published this

which she used in sex education.It's amazing collection of drawings that people male and female have done of their 'down below', that people can colour in. It really embraces the differences we have and how we all should celebrate our bodies. Really great and important post, resteemed.

I like the idea of that colouring book! You make a good point about everyone being different, also "down there". There is no standard of beauty and we need to celebrate every shape.

THIS! This is part of rape culture, this is part of the oppression of self-love, and this is part of why there is so much killing (war and otherwise) in our world.

Why is violence more acceptable than sex? Why can't we make sex normal, creating healthy culture around it? I needed that when I was a teen, but it wasn't there. I needed to read books "where the characters talk openly about what they want, what makes them feel good." I didn't find those books. My sexual journey has been rough because of lack of sexual education and the lack of respect society has around this very human act.

I write fiction (Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Women's Fiction, Romance), and there's always a romance involved. Some of my books include erotic scenes. I'm sorry there wasn't room in that writing group for erotica. Writing is my therapy, on many levels, and allowing myself to write about healthy relationships has helped me work out my own issues.

Thank you for raising your voice here. This is a topic that needs a lot more exposure. (lol!) Keep writing! :)

Thank you for your kind words. I needed books depicting healthy sexual relationships as a teen as well, but sadly there were none. My erotica is definitely aimed at adults, but my erotic romance is more toned down.
I agree that there should be more room for self love and also self exploration and self pleasure. How are you going to find out what you like sexually if you don't explore your own body?

Yes & Also if you visit other countries, the view of sex is a lot different. The way they view violence is a lot different as well, people aren’t so quick to take out their phones and record nonsense. Instead they stop it in its tracks!

For one thing, I have yet to read anything from the "erotica" genre that was worth the time I spent trying to find plot or character development. It all seems quite gratuitous and indulgent to me. If the genre had any redeeming qualities from a literary standpoint, it might be more well accepted. As it stands, it's just word porn, which quite frankly, isn't appealing to most serious readers. So maybe it has more to do with the typical substandard quality of the writing than with anyone's prudishness.

I am sorry for you that you have never found any good erotica or erotic romance. You have really been missing out. To say that erotica as a genre has no "redeeming qualities from a literary standpoint" (and we can debate about what literary standpoint actually is) is narrow and based on your very limited experience. Erotic romance in particular is a very popular and successful genre and to dismiss it as not having redeeming qualities is elitist at best.

Sure it's a popular and successful genre, for the same reason that porn sells, and porn producers make millions. No one disputes that. But to whine and cry because porn is excluded from the Academy Awards? Heh. Again, more likely to do with lack of overall quality than with the fact that the audience is made up of church ladies.

I would argue that the Academy Awards don't offer a true representation of good movies at all whatsoever, considering it's basically a bunch of white men deciding what is good and proper, so that point kinda falls flat.

LOL Of course you would say that, because that's exactly what people say about standards when it's clear they don't have a chance in hell of ever meeting them. It's the easiest cop-out in the world.

I'd like to remind you that people like me have rights, too. I prefer an environment free from political bullying and snowflake rants, and free from decadent sexuality. I have the right to create such an environment and maintain it free from influences that I find off-putting, boring, or not up to the standards I personally maintain. I find it quite an affront that people would expect me to alter my preferences and live my life according to their standards just because my standards don't set well with them. It's like going to someone's home and criticizing the way they stack dishes in their own cupboards.

Most people, like those who write childrens' books, find that we don't offer much in the way of helping that genre either, and go about seeking resources and support for the kind of work they do without feeling the need to make a public spectacle when they don't get their way with us. I find it very telling when people feel the need to disrupt or criticize an established community or society just so they can strongarm their beliefs on others who don't share them. Kind of reminds me of those zealot Christian evangelical sects, in a way.

This whole argument is moot really and I don't know why you are so defensive. The only reason why I brought up the whole writer group thing (mind you, not even mentioning which writer's group it was) was to make a larger point about society's attitude towards sex. I could have used any example, but I chose this one. The post is not even about the value of erotica. I don't care about defending erotica all, it was just an illustration to make a larger, more valid point. Which you clearly missed in your zeal to defend your writers group and attack a genre you don't particularly care about.

If I may...

I was present when you came in, and specifically remember you being told you were welcome to join our group, only that erotic pieces would not be eligible for the queue. We have many authors in our community who don't submit to the queue. I also specifically remember you being told that you were, however, free to ask one of our editors if they'd have time and if they'd be willing to critique it for you anyway, outside of the queue process. But you have to actually be open to what people are trying to tell you, instead of feeling insulted by the fact that our rules are what they are.

Then again, maybe you'd left while that message was being typed out. I'm certain it was there, anyway.

I’m not so much defensive as I am irritated. But you’re right. It really isn’t an argument worth having.

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Love your perspective and agree that our society definitely has a problem when it comes to portraying normal sexual relationships. I've known almost since puberty that pleasure is a normal and basic human need. Recently, I've been doing a lot of research into the Ecstatic / Orgasmic birth movement. Almost since biblical times our culture has supported a "No Pain, No Gain" mentality, and supported the opposite that pleasure and seeking it is somehow bad, selfish, perverted, etc. I've also been reading Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts, and she's a huge advocate for seeking pleasure in life. I really think this issue goes beyond even sexual pleasure, but pleasure in general. I also agree that the sex ed that is offered to most children is terrible advice. However, I don't think that we as a society should be looking to our schools / government to provide that education. Parents need to wake up. If they don't talk to their kids about what sex should be, then the kids are going to inevitably learn it somewhere. There is so much about parenting that is gross and embarrassing. Like getting pooped and vomited on for example. However, I think once kids reach teenagerdom, parents think the "hard and embarrassing" part of parenting is over. My extended family has personally seen the consequences of not properly educating their children when it comes to the sex topic. And what's really sad is the consequences their enduring could have been prevented by simply sucking it up and having an uncomfortable conversation with their child.

Yes, such a good point about parent having to talk to their children about sex. And that should start much earlier than teenage years. I will answer any questions regarding sex my young children have. Treating it as something normal when they grow up will help them foster healthy sexual relationships when they are older. I always say to my husband that I'd rather be the one giving my kids information about sex than them going to their friends or the Internet and getting the wrong kind of information.

Yes this is ridiculous. We just don't have much access to erotic writing in the mainstream. Demystifying sex and womens real attitudes to sex is very important for us all, not just in teenage sexual education. When we write about sex we can really describe how it feels, very differently to a photo or video. Imagine if boys grew up reading womens real descriptions of their sexual experiences.

Agreed. And erotica and romance still have such a bad name in the publishing industry. It's always viewed as something subpar, like it's not real writing when romance and erotica sell really well. It's only because it has traditionally been written by women and read by women.

This is really great content, I really enjoyed reading it, sex positive content is great, especially ones written by women, anything to break the Madonna/Whore complex held up by institutionalised sexism, so looking forward to reading my content on female sexuality and sex positivity

and following.

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Yes! You are so Right, Sex is Sacred but also Something to be adorned! Respected in all the right ways. The way we view sex, is directly associated to the rise in teen pregnancy, abortion rates, sexually transmitted diseases & also sexual orientations. I’m talking about pedophelia, rape culture— all these things are intertwined I’m glad you chose this topic for #womenspeakout . Upvoted + Resteemed ⭐️

Exactly! Sex education is so focused on not getting pregnant and not getting an STD. Where is the focus on consent, communication, getting pleasure, having fun? And why is sex something women "put out" and men "get"?

I agree with you

The answer to your question is because sex is good, under the right circumstances.

Violence is bad. It's clear that violence is bad. When a teenager shoots people in a video game, they don't think "well, all right, this is fun, I should do this to real people." It is forever clear and well communicated that violence is bad.

Sex however, is good. However, it requires consent between two people to be good, otherwise it is bad. Worse than violence. This nuance is not apparent from watching a sex scene in a movie. I've heard of teens and children that saw sex scenes, and then proceeded to force themselves on others, because it's a good thing, right?

This problem however would be easily solves with some good sex ed. Actually, even decent sex ed would solve it. But USA, one of the biggest world powers shies away from sex ed like the plague, so, yeah.

Yes. Bad porn is bad. Bad sex made out to be good is bad.

I like your answer and want to add one thing. That in some cases violence is made out to be good. Cop stories, vigilante stories, every superhero flick ever highlights that violence is good when the cause and mentality is to "save" someone. Usually its men saving women and children. eyeroll Sometimes its mostly men and some highly sexualized eye candy saving "the world"

At one point in my life i refuses to watch my beloved superhero flicks because it was only about explosions and male egos. Lately its gotten * better * Marvel chatacters for instance are more complex, violence for daredevil for example is a necessary evil but stands by a code not to kill... etc... still lots of fighting-- and yes, i think it can influence children and even some adults.

Fair point. Violence for a good cause is definitely celebrated in some cultures.

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I would write a long comment here but honestly you said everything I have to say, and you said it perfectly. I could not agree with you and this post more. I am happy to resteem this.

Much love - Carl

TRUTH: I am shy about ....uhm.. errrr sex OMG! i said it. Why is that? Well, its because my mom was not only shy about it. She accidently created a negative aversion to it for me (dm me lauren if you want to know how). And She and my stepfather shamed me, my body, my interest in boys (and later girls). Add on to that moving a million times so that i never have a long term friend--- YOu have LIMA- awkwardly losing virginity at 19 and then refusing intercourse by default and getting angry about talking about it until maybe... 31??

And guess what?? I STILL WATCHED PORN.

This is a thing that may come as a shock to people since I get anrgy about sex talk in group chats because it feels non-consensual to me and hate pick up lines and cat-calling. But let me just admit it here on Lady Izzy L's blog page.

I like sexy stuff. I like sex. I am best at intimacy leading up to intercourse but I am interested in having it and talking about it and I agree that the more we shame it and hush it--- the worse it makes it.

I was recently calling out my amazing friend for posting a very cute video of his boy naked because OMG THE PEDOS WILL STEAL IT AND ITS DANGEROUS.

And he told me: I refuse to hide my child because naked children are natural and not sexual.

It really was hard for me to let go of that "protective" thing and I KNOW its because the way I was raised taught me that nudity and sex are shameful.

Its gonna be a long debate though because I still think that their are creeps out there and there is a liability issue if a parent doesn't want their child to critique porn. But I like your passion and spirit and perspective. This is exactly what womensspeakout is for. Maybe I will be brave enough to make a full post about my sexuality and experience with shame. Right now I just made a very revealing comment for a confused half-prude-freak. But here it is. Free.

This is such an important issue that is also a head-scratcher like, really? We let our kids watch all of this violence and shield them from sex? And we wonder why we live in an age of sexual assault & harassment and an upcoming generation who can't figure out a healthy relationship with sex... Thank you for continuing to be a stand for de-tabooing sex & sexuality!

We are so proud to feature you in this week's #LadiesofSteemit curation!

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Thank you so much!

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40 love to Miss Lauren.

Trust me, I'm a doctor.

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