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.

For most of my life, I felt ashamed . I did not know I carried this private shame but I did, because if you tried to look for me in photographs you would be hard pressed to find me.  If you tried to look me in the eyes I would look down. My back would be hunched, my scarves covering my breasts , large jackets trying to make it o.k.

 

I was always clumsy.  I was also tall, big breasted and stood out where I grew up. But the fact is, it was deeper than this. Throughout my life, I was made to feel slutty just because of what I looked like. Even if I never had a boyfriend, or flirted somehow because I accidentally bent down the wrong way, or my bra strap accidentally showed I was promiscous. If I bent down while praying a man told me ” Start over, God might not have heard you because of the way you are sitting”.

 

I remember I had a pink dress I was especially proud of. I wore it and it hugged the curves of my body. I walked home from school and men started to follow me, grabbed my butt and I felt dirty. I hated the dress after that.  Countless times I would go into public pools and men would leer at me. I would be followed home so many times that I grew jumpy. I had a basketball coach which tried to manhandle me as well.

And through it all I was also mercilessly teased by boys.  I grew up feeling like it was my fault. That somehow, I had caused it. Because I had big breasts, because I was tall because I was clumsy.  I was so trusting, that I did not know better and I had a couple of really scary incidents happen where I was assaulted.

I grew up in a place where people would be scandalized by every bit of skin that showed and somehow, if I did show somethign I was responsible for men’s imprudent behavior. Somehow, I asked for it. If I was too trusting and went into a room alone with someone, it was my fault for doing it. Because, ultimately, it is always a woman’s fault.

As a late bloomer, I take control of who I am. I no longer am going to hide behind corners just because of what I look like. I won’t continue to gain weight to somehow hide away or use it as an excuse. Despite being overweight I like myself now. I like my body, and every part of it is mine. And the funny thing is, once I did that  I realized that I was attractive to some people and that was ok. I realized I wasn’t to blame for the assaults that had happened to me.  I took control over my own destiny and who I was. 
The truth is, we live in a pervasive culture that blames women , that creates women objectification and continues to perpetuate violent behaviors . It is a rape culture that is becoming alarmingly prevalent in our society.  I am one of those women who never reported a sexual assault because I felt that somehow I caused it and the people around me made me feel that way.  The men themselves are forced into t these strict gender roles where their worth is based solely on objectifying women.  We are surround by media which constantly parades people as commodities, as beauty as a way to promote sex gratification and violence. We are entrenched in it we barely register that it is happening.

We do not live ina  world where we promote consent or give others the ability to truly know what they want. We lack an ability to consult because we are so consumed by our individualized desires. For the moment, I hold my head up high and am proud of who I am. I am more than my body, but I own it just the same and no one can use it, especially not without my consent.

 

 

Lonelienss has never been a problem for me. I spent a lot of time alone as a kid. I always had friends but I was always the odd one out. It’s hard when people rarely understand your unique experience. Until I realized that it’s about our shared experiences that make us unique.
Everyday, you cry and thousands others cry alone in their rooms. You sing, and others are singing somewhere else in the world. You love and smile, and so do others.
We are not really alone, we are just led to believe that we are not interconnected. Every single atom is part of the other, even if society makes us believe that we are unique individuals it’s our inteconnectedness that makes it special.
But we expect for one person, or a couple of friends to fill in our loneliness. To make us fill the void that is in our scarred hearts.
No one can do that. If we listen to the silence, if we hear the moon over the river , if we don’t allow our desires to cloud our vision we can be at peace.
Still, it can be hard. I don’t want to be alone my whole life. I feel like I need people around me, friends family a man I can love.
I want to sit out by the water and sit in companiable silence and read a book with someone by my side. I want the feeling of laughter stitched into my skin. I do not want darkness, or misunderstanding or anger. I do not want toxic relationships to cloud my life. 
I want the feeling of the sun in my fingertips. I am glad for my life. I am glad for God. I am glad for myself.
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