So, this girl wrote a blogpost about how to write a feminist young adult novel that sparked some controversy. I’m going to stir the pot a bit with my own personal oar.
I pretty much didn’t mind the first 3/4ths of her article. She was wrestling with some characters in her book, trying to make them strong women and such. Since I don’t actually know any weak women, I don’t have a problem with strong women.
It was when she got to the sexual revolution that my Disagreement Light started flashing. This is just about the only part of the section that didn’t have dirty language in it.
Everybody hopes their “first time” will be meaningful and special and, like, doing it on a cloud without getting pregnant or herpes, but if it isn’t like that-barring major trauma or violation—it doesn’t matter. You aren’t tainted. You aren’t cheap. It hasn’t spoiled everything. And if he doesn’t respect you in the morning, that’s his problem. When it comes to sex, the only thing—literally, the only thing—that matters is that you respect yourself.
But we already know this. What we have to do is somehow pass this not-so-secret knowledge onto the girls who may not realize it yet (although I sometimes worry it will take forty years of wandering in the desert, until there arises a generation who hath not known Twilight).
That kind of “pat ’em on the back, free love is all right” kind of attitude sets my teeth on edge. Fortunately, Dave Farland already said it far better than I can, talking about Robert Heinlein:
Robert Heinlein was a fine entertainer. He sounded a clear call. Yet in his books, Heinlein preached “free love” long before the idea took hold nationally in the 1960s. In fact, I suspect that his works helped spur the sexual revolution. He spoke of pedophilia in a somewhat encouraging tone, and professed that if a child happened to be born from a casual union, it should be left to the care of those who could be bothered to nurture children.
Now, there are excellent reasons why cultural norms across every society in the world have long countered Heinlein’s reasoning.
Heinlein didn’t take into account the dangers of what he promoted. He doesn’t discuss the risks of catching STDs such as AIDS. It’s a terrible disease. I have one old friend who is ill with it now. If dying from the disease wasn’t bad enough, he once confided that he spread it to several lovers, who have all since passed away. I can’t imagine bearing that kind of guilt. I’ve noticed over and over again how men who give into promiscuity become distant with their spouses, families, and friends. They seem unable to bond—as if by making love with many, they become unable to love anyone deeply. Heaven help any children that are born from such unions. They may lose a parent before they were ever born.
If you can’t tell, I don’t think much of writers who champion hedonism. Heinlein was a moral idiot. He was a fine entertainer. He sounded a clear call. But his reasoning was faulty.
When moral idiots write books containing moral idiocy, we wind up with fine books like the one Kat Heckenbach reviewed here. It’s about a teen who drinks, smokes, does drugs, and sleeps around, and never experiences any consequences. At the end of the book, the reader is left with the idea that doing all these things is a viable way of having fun and none of it will hurt you.
That’s sheer fantasy on the author’s part. Wishful thinking, pie-in-the-sky, castle-in-the-clouds moral idiocy.
So my books are not feminist. I have strong female characters, because like I said, I don’t actually know any weak women. But sex is not free and my characters are smart enough to know it. Love is hard work.