Sex in Books for Teens (Common Core)

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Since I have an Aunt who is very against Common Core, a national set of educational standards, I have been curious to figure out what the fuss it. I have to admit I am still baffled by the complaints. I read that it is dumbing the kids down, while also hearing that some things are too difficult for kids. Then try and filter out the very appalling right wing nutters who you find when trying to read about the cons of common core. Appalling: common core will allow the Islam into our classrooms (via skype) and that it is a left wing, communist, brainwashing, curriculum. Arghhh! I can’t take that seriously.

I have seen a few pages of math that claims to be too hard, but it look just like Singapore Math’s style. Aren’t we suppose to encourage math proficiency, and perhaps try new ways of looking at math, especially creatively? I am disturbed by the worksheet that discusses pimps and mobstaz in an attempt to make curriculum more current and relevant. I don’t object to rap references, but surely something more positive would be called for?

Another critique  is the suggestion to use a book called Dreaming in Cuban, which I have not read, other than the sexually explicit passage that is plastered on the web. Yes, to including more multicultural reads in literature class! This is good. I am not sure how I feel about my kid reading this though:

“Hugo and Felicia stripped in their room, dissolving easily into one another, and made love against the whitewashed walls. Hugo bit Felicia’s breast and left purplish bands of bruises on her upper thighs. He knelt before her in the tub and massaged black Spanish soap between her legs. He entered her repeatedly from behind.

“Felicia learned what pleased him. She tied his arms above his head with their underclothing and slapping him sharply when he asked.

“‘You’re my bitch,’” Hugo said, groaning.

“In the morning he left, promising to return in the summer.”

I feel so conflicted. Why include a book for students with this rather graphic passage, especially one that includes bruises, and being called “bitch”?  I don’t like the idea of banning books either, or having to opt my kid out, which would in theory, make a big deal out of it. Surely, most kids will end up reading stuff like that anyway, but in class? I guess I have higher expectations. I’m insulted by this:

“The real question is why officials think it is appropriate to allow the sensibilities of a parent or two affect all of the children in the school and override educators’ judgments.”

I guess I assume we’d all be on the same page, as parents. I’m embarrassed to be on the side of those who would want the book pulled from school. Not banned from libraries or teens from finding and reading this, but just not on the school list.

As a teen, and pre-teen, I was allowed to read what ever I wanted, and that included a LOT of grownup novels of the 80s. I think the 80s were much more free with gratuitous sex in books back then. I found reading those passages highly erotic and arousing, and as good as that felt, I think it just amped up my sex drive at a time when you really don’t need to have  it on your mind, as in 5th grade, or as often as you do in high school. I guess that is what disturbs me. Not that people have sex, or that teens have a sex drive, but here we are giving them something that could get them aroused. OK. Fiction and storytelling aren’t always going to tell happy and polite stories. Sure. Do we need to choose a book with a passage like the one above, for a teen, one that seems derogatory towards women? (Having not read the book, maybe there is more to the story that negated being called a bitch and getting bit and bruised.) I read crap like that in high school, and nobody ever talked to me about whether sex like that was appropriate or healthy. I read the Gor novels which is erotic sci fi, where women are slaves. I found it erotic, and I like the BDSM type play that my boyfriend and I engaged in. I’m not ashamed of that, other than publicly letting myself being throwing to the ground by him (god, teens are so blissfully unaware of being seen). If I could go counsel myself…. I’d suggest that that was not the be-all-end-all of sexuality and how to have dignity, even if engaging in BDSM. I don’t know if I’d “hear”. I can say for a fact, that reading those books set me on a path (not a BDSM path necessarily, but how I viewed sex and myself) that lasted more than a decade, and ended with a lot of degradation.

Minimally, if kids read sex, there should be some discussion on what is healthy, allow for differences of opinions, but also discuss what is disrespectful or degrading. If they are not mature enough to try to ponder healthy sexuality and gender relations, then maybe they shouldn’t be given books with graphic sexual passages.


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