It’s Asexual Awareness Week, which means that though I’d do it any time of the year, it’s the optimal time of the year to recommend and gather recommendations of media with asexual protagonists. Today I want to talk about two brilliant geeky YA novels with main characters that are not only relatable, complicated, and funny, but sit on a perhaps lesser-known place on the asexual spectrum: these are two characters who are confirmed as demisexual.
Demisexuality is when you only begin to feel sexually attracted to people once you form a strong emotional bond with them. The most common misconceptions about it tend to be that the demi in question is just “picky” and chooses to get to know people first, or that they’re no longer, or never really were, asexual at all once they find someone they like enough to be attracted to. As with the many grey areas along the ace spectrum, it can be a tricky thing to both explain to people and define for yourself, especially given how society so easily conflates romantic, aesthetic, and sexual attraction all together as one big amorphous thing when they’re really separate and very different feelings—and, as always, different for every individual person!
I know that I’m somewhere under the ace umbrella, but finding an exact word to define my unique, personal scenario has kind of felt like I’m a sleep-deprived detective staring at a conspiracy board trying to link evidence together with bits of string. While I’m still bumbling along trying to figure myself out, it was immensely rewarding and heartwarming to read these two books where characters (who are younger than me, mind you) get to not only find happiness in their ace identities and have fulfilling relationships, but get to be the stars of moving and engaging stories. Continue reading →
I really like dystopian fiction. Whether old classics like Brave New World or more recent YA blockbusters like the Hunger Games trilogy, I think it tends to provide piercing commentary on modern-day issues, no matter how far in the future the story is set. Their power comes not so much from accurate predictions about how our future will be, as from the scary ways that we can see these dystopian scenarios already playing out in the current world around us. For instance, if you apply Hunger Games to today’s world, you’d see that we in the developed world are the Capitol, the developing countries and poorer parts of our own countries from which we extract cheap goods and resources are the Districts, child labor is the Hunger Games, and of course, media manipulation is ever-present, keeping us complacent (and this is just one interpretation).
The thing is, though, I don’t find the literal scenario of a power-hungry dictator forcing children to fight each other to the death for the entertainment of elites to be very likely to ever happen, at least not in the United States. And the more likely I find a dystopian story to be, the scarier and more poignant I find its message.
There is one dystopian YA novel that is becoming a more and more accurate prediction of our future every day. And that’s because the “bad guy” is not a reductio ad absurdum oppressive government regime, but something I find even scarier: corporate control.
Before checking out the rest of the post below, I beg you to go read M.T. Anderson’s Feed, not just because I’m going to spoil it, but because it should seriously be required reading for, well, everyone. Finished? Shaken? Good. Let’s go.
Being just that sort of person who reads feminist critique for fun, I devoted part of my poolside reading while on vacation last week to Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, a collection of essays about the author’s struggles with the label of feminism and why she claims it nonetheless. One of these essays touched on Gay’s near-fanatical love of the Hunger Games series; in it, she pointed out how downright laughable it was that, in a trilogy where children are brutally murdering each other, it’s apparently not okay to show anything but kissing. This got me to thinking: when is it good to go a little further, as it were, in media portraying teenagers or aimed at teenagers in regards to sex, and when is it weird or wrong?
I love young adult fiction, as you might have been able to tell from mycontributions to our Magical Mondays column. One of the many reasons is because, especially in recent years, YA authors have taken an incredibly active role in promoting diversity. They were the progenitors of the popular hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks and its spinoff hashtag, #WeNeedDiverseAuthors. YA authors Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo have created Diversity in YA, a site devoted to diverse YA books, and other authors in YA have taken the challenge of diversity head on. Today’s web crush, Disability in Kidlit, is no different.