Sunday, May 5, 2013

Should teenagers be able to read whatever they want?

When I was in high school I would spend a lot of my spare time reading. I loved science fiction. I think I must have read dozens of Star Trek and Star Wars books. Around the time I was 15 I started reading crime. Eventually my mother handed me a romance novel and I started to read those. I always had the freedom to read whatever I wanted. No one ever said to me "Marisa that book is not appropriate for you" or "Marisa you are too young to read that book" I was given the chance to make my own decisions and explore fiction and decide what I liked.

A teacher in America has gotten in trouble for ordering Fifty Shades of Grey and giving it to one of his students after he requested to be able to read it at school. The teacher has been suspended and is claiming he did not know what the book was about. A lot of people are asking "How could he not know what THAT book was about?" and they do a have a point: did he not look at the front cover or read the book of the book before he bought it? He made a mistake, that much is clear. But I believe him when he says he did not know what the book was about. Perhaps he does not read erotica. It would make sense then that the book might have passed him by.

A lot of people are saying that Fifty Shades of Grey does not belong in schools because of it's content. This disturbs me...because as I said above growing up I had the freedom to read whatever I wanted. I do not like the idea of restricting what books young people can choose to read. Why shouldn't teenagers read erotica? Kids are curious about sex and porn. Wouldn't giving them an erotica book be kind of...harmless? They are curious. They are horny. Let them read the book.

I can understand some people not wanting their kids to read the book. The teacher should have asked permission.

I've been thinking about it and I think FSOG might actually make an interesting teaching tool. Think about it...older students could read it (16 or 17 and up) as part of an English class and discuss the quality of the writing, the strength of the plot, how it compares to Twilight and the relationship between the characters. Think of all the discussions that could take place!

It will never happen though.

What's interesting about books is that they do not come with age restrictions on them. It would be weird if they did. Until they do (and hopefully they never will) it isn't actually illegal for teenagers to purchase FSOG and read it. I think that's how it should stay too. Parents really shouldn't worry if their kids are reading erotica. There are so many other worse things they could be doing. Erotica is harmless. Let them read FSOG. If they're anything like me they'll soon realize that it's a steaming pile of shit.

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