O.k I am going to talk about my LEAST favorite genre in the young adult books. This is also the one I am pretty concerned about because there are some themes that are being retreaded over and over and over.
When I was a kid, if you wanted to read YA romance novels you usually turned to sweet valley high. They weren’t perfect- they are pretty darn close to pretty little liars- but it seems Ya fiction has come a long way from that former assessment.
I guess romance novels have become a beast in of itself, and while I was sort of expecting chick lit- which I don’t seem to mind reading from time to time- this seemed a lot more like harlequin romances than anything.
They are also trending number one in teen novels…beside fantasy/ sci fi and dystopian novels.Which have the same similar themes. As I started to read them a lot of them became blurred into the same darn plot albeit some key changes here and there.

Lover Boy as the Bad Damaged Distant Guy

He has penetrating eyes, and strong biceps tends to be a ladies man but doesn’t seem to connect with anyone. He is damaged , in some way or another. He has a dark past which usually involves sexual, physical or some kind of abuse. He has horrible parents or absent ones. He has no direction in life until he meets….

Wimpy Damaged Heroine

Our damaged heroine is a victim. She has been a victim of horrible parents/death/rape/incest/domestic violence… but somehow is still pretty wimpy. She shivers a lot and is unaware of her captivating beauty. That all changes when she meets ( insert ridiculous name here ) who awakens her and frightens her at the same time. Even though he is dangerous, and can’t stand having anyone talk to her or any men around her she feels ALIVE. She has no real ambition of her own. We don’t know any of her talents, we don’t know how she thinks and quite frankly she is pretty annoying. Despite people saying how great she is, she is pretty one dimensional

I hated these two themes more than anything else because it promotes the idea that if you fall in love, your pain and scars will disappear… if anything without therapy a relationship with two very screwed up individuals can become even more conflicted , toxic and codependent. It is not a cure, and romanticizing codependency is an extremely irresponsible thing to do . They very rarely really deepen on how this pain affects the characters. If you really want to know the effect of physical or sexual abuse go read i know why the caged bird sings, among other books. It’s really very dark and you do not recover just by some manly man cradling your weakened body into your arms.

Unecessary Conflict
After a lot of misunderstanding they get close… like fall- in -love- after- three- days -close. And then like there is some random stupid barrier that doesn’t allow them to get closer …. some misunderstanding

At the last minute
They realize their love until

Another unecessary conflict
Usually someone is about to die, is going to die or will die. Only they don’t …they make some miraculous recovery.

The girl is always a virgin
There is a lot of very steamy love scenes in this which surprises me because it is catered to teens where the stupid inexperienced virgin ( that everyone is surprised she is a virgin at 17 ….) gets experienced finally by the bad boy.

All Characters are white and American…
These guys don’t get around much in terms of diversity.

The characters get married
They get married without finishing school, having any ambition or even a view of the future. Most of these characters get married within six months of knowing each other.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Bad romance novels bad. I am not a romance novel expert so please school me but surely we don’t have to retread the same plot over and over to appease teenagers.

How can we truly achieve equality and get past gender to find humanity?  This is what has been going through my mind lately.   The discourse of feminism has been going on for well over two hundred years, yet the same things are being discussed over and over . The right to be an individual person away from being defined as a man, the right to not be objectified, the right to rise above circumstance and to get equal jobs and pay.

Yet the reason why the arguments become divisive and cyclical is that we cease to see that it goes beyond male and female and transcends it. The society as a whole are create false dichotomies and paradigms at a very young age. We are surrounded by media who are constantly barraging us with female objectification, of male stereotype of fragmented concepts of masculinity. We give value to men sexualizing women, and condemn girls who are sexualized. We create a whole society that is based purely on how we look and not what we are and our core values that intertwine this reality.

As a society entrenched in a depersonalized world where porn has created a desensitized concept of what women are like , where young children are exposed to an identity that is limited in it’s understanding of who they are based on what they are wearing and what they look like the outcome will continue to not go anywhere. In order for us to fully advance, we need to all be involved in create significant powerful change by acknowledging what unites us as human beings.

Yet… It’s hard not to generalize, to stereotype men especially when you go through things everyday that makes you feel demoralized and objectified.

It’s hard not to be angry. It’s hard to walk in the street and not feel exposed because some jerk decides to follow you or starts to message you online. It’s hard when someone says it’s your fault somehow because of what you wear instead of empathizing with other’s plight. Yet I want to understand these men’s behavior. What causes them to impose their own desires over girls? They know most likely it will not have a successful outcome so why do they do it? What happens to the young boys playing basketball in the park and what causes them to change to men who can treat other human beings in such a way?

Believe it or not, it makes me sad for them. I’m sad because they don’t take the time to see and meet people, awesome amazingly flawed people and all they see is a collection of body parts  and that’s sad because they are deprived of learning from those people , rising above those experiences. Because they are so caught up on what society or their friends will think of them, because they feel that to make themselves feel better they have to bring others down they are depriving themselves of really knowing the value of someone.

I have met people time and time again whom to other girls they catcall, size them up, number them and talk in lurid detail about the things they will do TO them because they feel that she’s just an object , she has no feelings. Yet with me because somehow I am their ” sister” they feel protective towards me, they see me as a human being. The thing is, these men who bother women in bars, who follow them in the street , who mistake a smile for an invitation… they don’t really want to get to know those girls. They rather they remain anonymous and in the shadows. Better they be a receptacle for their misplaced desires than really look deep down at the bereft parts of their own life.

I am also saddened by women who think their sole value is based on how they look or what society perceives them to be. Whom spend their whole time preening in the mirror and not enough time preening their souls. I can’t blame them, because i find that I too am victim of this from time to time.

It’s hard not to feel helpless when your sole value continues to be who you are with and not who you are. It’s hard not to feel saddened when women are still not taken seriously and are called ” Bitch” and ” Hysterical” … where the word ” female” is still a negative connotation.

So why haven’t we come closer to true equality? Why is the bird not flying? It comes down to the fact that we forget that the soul has no gender, and we also do not realize how much cultural relativism comes into play in terms of gender.  There are so many paradigms that we choose not to see in terms of men and women , instead we oversimplify the argument by saying that it is merely men assaulting women.

What we need to find is our common core , that humanity within us that doesn’t define gender . That we go outside our comfort zones and cease to define the world in us vs. them. That we want to change and try to lead a life where a person is a person no matter the setting. That women are not drowning in anger and find that there is goodness in everyone and try to overcome this anger and empowering the next generation to become better than the one we are in. To see a woman and not see what she looks like but the greatness of her heart. To see a man and not see who he is based on wealth, or height or career but the goodness of his heart. To see people, and not not gender.

The catterpillar's future

We all have heard the claims that selfies cause mental illness. Truth be told, the amount of narcissistic tendencies that are derived from focusing entirely on our own self can’t be good. But we forget that selfies have existed since the dawn of time, we always were staring at our reflection . We were always obsessed on how we look to others… the problem is that it is exacerbated a million times through social media. The problems are bigger than selfies because we live ina  society that objectifies us and places a value only on our physical selves.

But we have heard a lot of these arguments over and over. Perhaps I can only see what selfies have done in my personal experience. Perhaps it is an interesting study on some positive aspects of the selfie. Before I started to ” selfie” I hated taking pictures of myself. You would have trouble finding me in ANY picture and if you did it mainly was me in the background being as inconspicous as possible. It was me allowing myself to be overpowered by others.  I hated taking pictures because sometimes I didn’t like the way they came out, because others were taking them. I had no control on the image that was produced.

When I started doing things like online dating or meetup groups or increasing my writing profile, I was finding that few pictures of myself existed. I started to take pictures of myself. Instead of seeing my flaws, which etched around me in every corner I saw my strengths. I didn’t see the big nose and large pores but I started to see my smile. I didn’t see my squinty eyes and large forehead but saw my pointy eyebrows and quizzical eyes.

I started to be more confident in how I looked. Yet even in the positive side, I also was become less aware of others around me. I was always content to look around me in coffee shops, to see who was walking about in the train. I always wanted to remain unseen. Yet when I started to see how I looked I started to wonder how others saw me. This is a dangerous game to play . We will never know that answer. I think this is the deepest problem with selfies and social media in general. We think we can solve what others are thinking based on comments, likes , dislikes. Humanity is far more complex than that.

FOr now, I remember that a picture is just a faded fleeting moment of who I really am but I should never shy away from it.

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