#YAAtoZ: Consent in YA, a guest post by author Sara Baysinger
Welcome to February, where we are discussing the letters C and D as part of the #YAAtoZ Project. Today we’re talking consent with author Sara Baysinger.
Consent. It’s a loaded word with crystal clear meaning, yet somehow the lines still get blurred for *certain* people who don’t really care to see the lines at all due to their own selfish desires.
Let me clarify these lines for those who are confused.
When things get a little steamy between a boy and a girl, and the boy listens to a girl’s verbal and nonverbal cues, and when he asks her, “Is this ok?” even when he thinks he understands her verbal and nonverbal cues, and when she says she’s uncomfortable and he’s immediately hands-off until she’s ready—THAT. IS. CONSENT.
No assuming she’s into it just because he is.
No thinking that if given a moment, she’ll enjoy it.
No getting off for his own pleasure and thinking she’ll be fine when it’s over.
Consent is when both partners are seeking permission, and both partners are clearly granting that permission.
So what does this have to do with YA books? I’ll begin with my own experience.
I was a homeschooled kid, raised in a foreign country. I didn’t get out much, and with two older sisters, I didn’t know a whole lot about boys or how they work. That is, until I found books. Books with swoony romance. Books with bad guys and good guys. Books that showed me that as long as the guy is a good, God-fearing man, the woman should do whatever he tells her.
Did you just get triggered by that last line?
Unfortunately, it’s true. Being homeschooled in a conservative household, I only had access to a few books by certain authors. And I’m not going to shine a spotlight on these books, because that’s not the point of this blog. But while my parents did not raise me in a patriarchal household, the books I read certainly did steer me down that road, where the road signs say a wife should be submissive to her husband, and a man has dominance over a woman—as long as—again—he’s a God-fearing man.
It wasn’t until years after high school that I woke up and realized we’re all equal, and a man has NO SAY WHATSOEVER in a woman’s preferences, discomforts, or choices, especially in something as important as sex.
And then I started reading more books that I usually wouldn’t have read as a teen. And I found stories that promote feminism and equality. I found books where the man respects the woman’s choices. Where Rhysand loves Feyre, but never pushes her to be with him until she verbally and nonverbally makes it known to him that she wants him. Where Warner backs off from Juliette completely until she verbally and nonverbally makes it known to him that she wants him. And then I was able to write about Kalen (from The Vanishing Spark of Dusk), who never pushes Lark into anything intimate until she verbally and nonverbally makes it known to him that she wants him.
Books teach us about life, even fiction books. Especially fiction books. They influence us. They pull us through life-changing experiences that all happen inside our heads. And YA books that cover consent—they teach us how important it is to listen to our inside voices. They teach us to listen our bodies, heed our intuition, and respect the boundaries of ourselves and our partners.
Ultimately, they teach us when to use consent. (Spoiler alert: ALWAYS).
And while I regret the brainwashing of the books I read earlier on in my teen years, I’m glad I found books that taught me that it’s perfectly okay to say no.
About The Vanishing Spark of Dusk:
When Lark is stolen from Earth to be a slave on the planet Tavdora, she’s determined to find her way back home to her family, no matter the cost. Placed in the household of a notorious slave trader, Lark quickly learns her best assets are her eyes and ears. And if she’s brave enough, her voice.
Kalen is the Tavdorian son of a slave trader and in line to inherit his father’s business. But his growing feelings for Lark, the new house slave who dares to speak of freedom, compel him to reveal his new plan for the slave ships returning to Earth—escape. Together, they just might spark a change that flares across the universe.
About Sara Baysinger:
Sara was born in the heart of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador where she spent her early life exploring uncharted lands and raising chickens. She now makes her home among the endless cornfields of Indiana with her husband and two children…and she still raises chickens. Her dystopian novel BLACK TIGER was self-published in 2016. When not getting lost in a book, Sara can be found gardening, devouring chocolate, and running off the sugar-high from said chocolate. You can visit her online at www.sarabaysinger.com.
Author Website: https://sarabaysinger.com
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarambaysinger
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarabaysingerauthor
Author Street Team/Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/baysingerbookbrigade/
Author Instagram: @sarabaysinger
Author Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sarambaysinger/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3149743.Sara_Baysinger
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network