Monday, March 13, 2017

The Monster in Young Adult Literature || An Old Essay

One of my friends, who is a developmental psychologist in training, recently told me that she would be studying the effect of young adult novels on abusive relationships. Specifically, she wanted to compare between generations who grew up with Twilight and its heirs and those who grew up with The Hunger Games and its heirs. I thought that this was fascinating, and I remembered that I had written a paper in college specifically focused on female sexuality as portrayed in young adult novels. (This was for a religious studies class on the occult). I looked at that paper and decided that a lot is still relevant to YA and our world today. So, if you're interested in the topic, here is the paper.

My apologies in advance for the poor writing: (a) I apparently turned in my final paper a few hours late, which means that I didn't edit it or care as much about the writing or logic gaps so much as finishing, and (b) I wrote this paper more than five years ago.

[I believe that the assignment was to choose any topic for a personal 5,000 word essay but to make sure that we'd incorporated at least one theoretical paper. My choice was monster theory, as established by Jeffrey Cohen.]

The Monster in Young Adult Literature

Young adult literature is rarely characterized for the monster within its ranks: the budding sexuality in female characters. However, female sexuality has recently been portrayed as monstrous in young adult paranormal romance literature and subsequently repressed. Though this trend has only become more noticeable since the release of Twilight, few authors have addressed the issue in full. Female characters are often unaware of their bodies, but once awakened to the effect that they can have, they become wanton creatures whose sexuality must be repressed by both the confines of the established paranormal world and by the male romantic interest. In order to best study these trends, I will first historicize the portrayal of female sexuality up through and after the release of Twilight and then critically examine three paranormal romance novels with an eye attuned to monster theory.

Although monster theory does not strictly fit the mold of these novels, it provides a useful lens for scrutiny of this topic. Monster theory is composed of seven theses: one, that the monster is born from culture and the fear, desires, anxieties, and fantasies it perpetuates; two, that the monster "always escapes;" three, that it's hard to categorize; four, that the "monstrous difference tends to be cultural political, racial, economic, sexual;" five, that it warns us of the rigid border that we should not cross; six, that its association with the forbidden makes it more attractive but also serves as a means of normalizing society; and seven, that it demands us to examine why such monsters exist in society [1]. In expanding upon these theses, Jeffrey Cohen takes examples from history and literature alike and suggests that his theory proposes "a method of reading cultures from the monsters they engender" (Cohen 3). This paper will examine how each of these theses affects the Twilight trend on young adult paranormal romance literature. Because monster theory focuses on how culture affects the monster's evolution, it is, however, also necessary to trace the portrayal of female sexuality through history and how it has evolved into its most current form.

There are many notorious examples of historical figures who sought to protect children and societal morals through the repression of perceived unfavorable cultural elements. In particular, Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), the founder of the New York Committee for the Suppression of Vice, was a staunch advocate of preventing the spread of what he called "abominations." As Molly McGarry argues in her essay, Spectral Sexualities: Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism, Moral Panics, and the Making of U.S. Obscenity Law, Comstock "[claimed] that the urban diseases of obscenity and vice were becoming pressing national problems" and "urged Congress to take action" by accepting the Comstock law, which "accelerated censorship by enlarging the category of 'obscene literature' to include all printed matter, and, for the first time, made it a crime to circulate information about contraception or abortion" (McGarry 8). His actions founded the national movement of Comstockery, which held long-lasting effects for American society.

Although the Comstock law was passed in 1873, its effects have continued to spread through American society. In various essays, Robert Haney examines the implications of Comstockery as perpetuated in America on television, pornography, and literature among other things [2]. Similar to how Comstock and his followers found ways to "police sexuality and govern traffic in sexual literature" (McGarry 9) and how they "waged war to keep the vices of the streets removed from 'proper' homes" (McGarry 18), Americans, according to Haney, "have developed various methods--crude and precise, official and unofficial, obvious and surreptitious--for controlling what is read, seen, and said" through "the imposition of restrictions upon literary, dramatic, and artistic works." Haney expands on his claim with an analysis of the Roth Supreme Court case on obscenity law (Haney 52) and discusses the National Office for Decent Literature, which was established in 1938 and had "nationwide influence" (Haney 88) over the other groups with which it kept in touch.

Through Haney's logic, it should not surprise us to find a repression of sexuality reflected in recent cultural events. Do Comstock's actions truly differ from those of Republican presidential candidates today who lament that family units have broken down due to contraception [3]? Granted, the current debate is a lot more complicated, and there may yet not be a law specifically outlawing certain books or contraception, but the expression of these similarly oppressive values has now managed to worm its way into the literature that young Americans read.

While there may not be an easily identified Comstock figure in society today, his influence, and that of like-minded reformers, has been stamped into young adult novels. In her analysis of the American novel of adolescence, Barbara White writes that "so long as women were conceived of solely in terms of their reproductive role, it was unnecessary for girls to go through any prolonged period between childhood and adulthood" (White 17) and that "at puberty... the girl's indulgence in 'masculine' behavior was to end." According to White, this was the reality for the girl protagonist before 1920. Young women were not even allowed to think of their sexuality, much less act outside of typified gender norms. Yet, little else has changed. As Deborah O'Keefe argues:
"From fairy tales onward, women's fantasies have been of themselves as the sleeping figure a man will awaken. Yet in stories, as in life, even women can learn to identify with the protagonist, to be the quester, not 'she who is sought.' In stories, as in life, it is the male figure whom society has hitherto allowed to be the protagonist, who must, therefore, for a time, be the model" (O'Keefe 31).
Fantasies and stories alike teach women and young women that their sexuality can only truly blossom through the aid of a man. From a feminist perspective, O'Keefe analyses classics published prior to the twenty first century and comes to conclusions rather similar to those of Barbara White. Thus, it appears that some young adult literature still involves submissive gender roles.

Having established the historical background behind both cultural repression of females and the analysis of young adult literature, I will now move onto how monster theory factors into the portrayal of female sexuality. The first thesis with which I concern myself is thesis two, which explains what happens when the monster escapes: We see the damage of the monster's presence, but the monster "turns immaterial" and "vanishes." Of all the theses, this is the one which does not really fit the novels I have chosen to analyze. I must thus rely solely upon the critic Beth Younger and her analysis of books that deal with pregnant teenagers. In my personal experience with young adult paranormal romance novels, I have yet to read about a pregnant female character who meets the handsome romantic interest. In fact, most novels seem to depend on the protagonist being beautiful, though she often does not realize this about herself, and in particular, that beauty is rarely associated with pregnancy. However, the way Younger deconstructs the novels she chooses and the conclusions she makes remain applicable to the paranormal romance genre and in fact, will form a pattern that is likewise relevant to those associated with the other theses.

In her analysis of female sexuality and body image, Beth Younger has found the same societal double standard expressed in young adult literature: Females are punished more harshly than males are for expressing their sexuality. As Younger states, "in YA literature, females are punished in myriad ways for being sexual," and "male sexual desire is presented as normal and natural, if often out of control, while female sexual desire is more frequently portrayed as abnormal or dangerous" (Younger 23). No matter the genre, this appears to be in accordance with the way female sexuality has become a "monster." This particularly shows when female characters become pregnant, which often happens after the first time they've had sex, an occurrence that "reinforces the typical warning against unprotected sex: it only takes one time to get pregnant" (Younger 34). "Giving into desire" thus becomes "the ultimate problem," a trend which connects to thesis two of monster theory: readers see the damage of expressed female sexuality through the unwanted pregnancy, but the monster does not stay for long. After suffering such consequences, why would teens risk themselves again? Indeed, most pregnancy-plot derived novels focus more on how the girl becomes pregnant, her family and friend's reactions, and the lifelong lessons she learns during her pregnancy rather than her sexual actions afterwards. Abortion is often "portrayed as a 'bad' choice," (Younger 28) if portrayed at all in the novel--there is only one right path for the female character to follow, and that is to accept the consequences of her actions.

Although Beth Younger provides useful analysis for thesis two, most of her analysis is based on stand-alone contemporary novels, which fall outside the scope of this paper and its focus on paranormal romance within young adult literature. Not only does she exclusively use contemporary novels but she also uses novels from the '70s and '80s, referring to only two novels that were published after 2003, the release year of Twilight. Historicizing her argument does not necessarily make it any less worthy with regards to monster theory. In fact, Younger's argument regarding pregnancy-plot driven books relates directly to mine for paranormal romance: she describes what happens when desire meets the boundaries of what is considered sensible for females and is thus punished or repressed. This commonality brings me to the next thesis of monster theory, which addresses the consequences of crossing those boundaries.

Thesis five of Cohen's Monster Theory is arguably one of the most relevant to paranormal romance novels like Twilight and those following in its path. As Cohen establishes, stepping outside the boundaries of what's acceptable is to "risk attack by the monstrous border patrol or to become monstrous oneself" for "the monster's sexuality takes on a separate life" and "embodies those sexual practices that must not be committed." Although this may seem contrary to the idea of female sexuality being monstrous, it fits within the pattern established by Twilight.

With a nickname of 'Mormon porn' among religious studies scholars, Twilight deals with a young girl's move to a new town and her subsequent introduction to a mysterious and alluring (but creepy and controlling) vampire named Edward, who fights his nature to stay with her. In subsequent novels, Bella, the protagonist, has to deal with Edward's decision to leave her (because his vampirism endangered her life), another vampire hunting her as a means of revenge against Edward, motherhood and her own transition to vampirism. The series has spent over 200 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller's List, and its movie adaptations have opened to huge crowds across the world. Given its popularity, it unquestionably has had an effect on novels within its genre.

In terms of monster theory, Bella's interactions with Edward are defined by her inability to control her own passions: she constantly is in threat of becoming monstrous and crossing boundaries (i.e., having sex with a physical monster). Edward must play the dominating man, constricting her wantonness as society requires. Should Bella go past certain boundaries, she'll end up dead at Edward's hands, the physical monster who, like "border patrol," ensures Bella's sexuality remains in check. However, this is not the end of Twilight's effect as defined by monster theory. Thesis four, which describes how sexual and gender differences are often regulated and how "'deviant' sexual identity is... susceptible to monsterization," also reveals more layers to the pattern left by Twilight. Bella is the absolute representative of normative gender expectations: a fifties housewife skilled in the kitchen; a caretaker of her hopeless father with sweet, petite features that make her beautiful, though she of course is unaware of her effect on men; an all-around average student who's not confident enough to heed Edward's warnings about her impending death; and a woman who defines herself solely on her man and constantly needs to be saved by him, because she has no survival instincts of her own. Her marriage to Edward normalizes her monstrous sexual cravings by advocating that she wait until marriage, and after she becomes a vampire, a physical monster, she becomes a nurturing mother to re-establish her gender role. These gender role themes and constriction of sexuality through the man and the paranormal world can also be observed in The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, and Halo by Alexandra Adornetto.

The least conventionally popular of the forthcoming novels, The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter presents a peculiar outlook on female sexuality: it combines the Christian seven deadly sins--including lust--with Greek mythology as one girl fights to become the immortal wife of Hades. The inclusion of Greek mythology should encourage some expression of sexuality, as the ancient Greek gods were well-known for their flagrant sexuality, but this does not happen and thus presents an awkward mingling of two cultures. In this book, seventeen-year old Kate makes a deal with Henry, the god of the Underworld, to undergo seven tests. If she passes, she will become his wife as long as he, too, will save her mother (who, unbeknownst to her, is actually Diana, the goddess of the harvest, and cannot die) from dying of cancer. Along the way, Kate falls in love with Henry and stays at "Eden Manor" not only for her mother but for him as well.

What makes Kate's situation similar to Bella's is the role she plays throughout the book. As Kate says:
"I wasn't spectacularly pretty. I wished I was, but I was just me. I'd never modeled, never had guys drooling over me, and never looked like much of anything next to the genetically blessed socialites that attended my preparatory school back home." (Carter 23)
Like Bella, she is unaware of her own sexual beauty (though, when Kate meets James, Hermes, the god of messengers, in human teenager high school form, he tells her she's an eight on a scale of ten for prettiness) and falls within similar tropes of her gender: being overcome by her passions; protecting her family (by sacrificing six months of her life so as to "save" her mother's life); forcing Henry to sit and eat dinner with her after he rushed around the manor trying to protect her (from someone who attempts to kill Kate); wearing corsets and dresses as the bequest of the other ditzy female characters; and judging one of these characters when she, Ava, "causes" the death of another man because she slept with both him and his killer, thus sending the latter into a jealous rage. When Kate first accepts Henry's bargain, she is looking over Ava's (Aphrodite in human high school form) "dead" body. She calls for help, and miraculously Henry appears. Even in a time of panic, "a jolt [runs] down [Kate's] spine" at the sight of "his eyes," which "were the color of moonlight" (Carter 43). Unsurprisingly, the one test Kate fails is that of lust, and because she fails, she almost loses her chance at becoming a goddess. By including this test as a requirement for immortality, Aimee Carter uses the world-building to discourage Kate's sexuality, much like the border patrol described in the fifth theory. To have the seven deadly sins be emblematic for what makes a young woman worthy to become a Greek goddess does a disservice to Greek heritage, since the gods were pantheons of sexuality, and thus only emphasizes the constriction of Kate's monstrous sexuality. Furthermore, though Henry claims not to be a liar, he deceives her by not telling her of the gods' deception, "[inclines] his head, as if silently giving [Kate] permission to speak" (Carter 79) as if controlling her, and "[looks] comfortable, lounging on the bed as if he'd done it a hundred times before" (Carter 133) while Kate remains a virgin. Like Edward, he controls his girl's wantonness, and she accepts his control willingly. After all, what girl wouldn't want to have six months of her life stolen from her as long as she would receive the undying love of an immortal god who finds her the appropriate wife?

Though Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini does not ask the same question of girls as The Goddess Test does, it too follows the pattern of repressive sexuality as formed by Twilight. Unlike The Goddess Test, however, it is a bestseller in both Germany and the UK. If we take bestseller status to mean that the book is popular, Starcrossed becomes a book representative of more than just American standards for female sexuality, though even US publishers paid seven figures to publish this young adult novel. As reported by Publisher's Weekly [4]:
"In Starcrossed, which brings Greek tragedy to high school, a shy Nantucket teenager named Helen Hamilton attempts to kill the most attractive boy on the island, Lucas Delos, in front of her entire class. The incident proves more than a bit inconvenient for Helen, who's already concerned that she's going insane--whenever she's sees Lucas (or any of his family members) the image of three crying women appear to her.

The murder attempt does have an upside though, as it ultimately leads to Helen's revelation that she and the local heartthrob are, in fact, playing out some version of a weighty ancient love affair. (Said female apparitions are, in fact, the Three Fates.) So Helen, like her namesake, Helen of Troy isn't going crazy, she's destined to start a Trojan War-like battle by being with Lucas. This then begs the unfortunate question: should she be with the boy she loves even if it means endangering the rest of the world?"
Even without analyzing the book contents, Starcrossed seems to fit within the scope of my established monster theory, for the position Ms. Angelini in which has put her character already constrains her sexuality for the sake of tragedy. The German publishers had a song made by the band DemiGoddess as part of the book's publicity. Some of the lyrics of "Where Do I Belong" include "I close my eyes to see / if there's something wrong with me / is there something in my soul / did I lose control." On one hand, this could refer to Helen's loss of control as she attacks Lucas; on the other hand, it could refer to her weakness when it comes to Lucas and whether or not the two of them had "lost" control--either Lucas couldn't control Helen this time, or Helen finally made that leap for the both of them--and restarted the Trojan War simply by deciding to run away with each other.

Examining the book more deeply highlights how closely it fits to theories four and five. In terms of normative gender roles, Helen cooks food for her helpless father, is a virgin who "[blushes] whenever [her best friend] [talks] about underpants" (4), and has to be saved by Lucas on multiple occasions because "she isn't a natural fighter" (179). Like Bella, Helen has to have her passions controlled by Lucas (305, 334, 341, etc.). Lucas goes so far as to say that "[he's] not sharing... Helen" (385), and Helen's virginity prevents the Trojan War and subsequently, the two of them from truly being together. Yet, Helen possesses much more of Bella's submissive nature than Kate does. Unlike Kate, Helen thinks things like:
"It still gave her a romantic thrill to think about how women in the olden days would pine away on their widow's walks as they searched for the masts of their husbands' ships" (35).
Furthermore, though Helen is a demi-god and has supernatural powers, she often refuses to use them (101) out of fear of herself: her power means that she's a "monster, freak, animal," or "witch." In this, she differs from Bella; Helen acts as her own monstrous border patrol, keeping herself within the line of normative roles.

Last of the listed books, a New York Times bestseller, Halo by Alexandra Adornetto furthers these monstrous portrayals in ways that Starcrossed and The Goddess Test do not. Halo tells the story of young Bethany Church, one of three angels sent to Earth to combat evil forces in the small town of Venus Cove. During this elongated mission, Bethany meets and falls in love with Xavier Woods, a troubled teenager, in the high school she attends (in an attempt to discover where the evil is). Though Halo certainly follows the same pattern that the other novels do, I mostly wanted to mention it, since it is the first in a trilogy written by a teenager. While the other novels are written by adults who perhaps believe in the idea of protecting the children or rather may be playing to the Twilight trend knowingly or unknowingly, Halo is from the perspective of a teenager who, in interviews, has expressed dissatisfaction with boys her age. As one interviewer reports [5]:
"[Adornetto] was hurt that another recent opinion piece, in which she lamented that the average male couldn't live up to the gentlemanly standards of Twilight vampire Edward Cullen, angered some people." 
"In her character Xavier she has created the perfect man: he's kind, considerate, loving, trustworthy and totally devoted to Bethany." 
"What [Adornetto] did was take elements from all the boys [she has] known in [her] life and put them together. Obviously everyone has flaws. Xavier is just your traditional romantic hero of [her] own fantasies, so [she] would hope girls can identify with him."
Creating a traditional romantic hero and creating a romantic interest similar to Edward Cullen are not necessarily the same thing, but Alexandra Adornetto's interpretation implies that some teenagers may be taking these characters, the stereotypical roles they portray, and the way sexuality is repressed to heart. These implications will be further addressed later in this paper.

In Halo, Adornetto has created another Twilight with angels instead of vampires,which has disturbing implications for the portrayal of the female sexuality. Understandably, an angel would not be expected to "soil herself" as most religious texts do not ever imply that angels are sexual; however, this is disturbing because Ms. Adornetto has elevated females to a pedestal they cannot reach [6]. Bethany is a pure angel who has never once sinned; how can a teenage girl ever compete with that? Furthermore, the details in her world-building conveniently leave out parts that should have humanized Bethany and made her into a more relatable character. According to the narrative, the longer the angels stay on Earth, the more easily they adjust to human life. It would follow then that humanly pleasures would soon become open to them, but this never happens to Bethany. She never once lusts for Xavier; she is not prone to the monstrous sexuality of the other protagonists previously mentioned. Is Bethany and Xavier's relationship that pure, or is this because of a message that the author is trying to send to her peers about sexuality?

Interviews with Alexandra Adornetto suggest that the latter is the case. Though she has said that "[she] [doesn't] want to push [her strong] views on to anyone else" and that "it's just a personal thing," she has also written an article advocating that girls preserve their virginity [7]. In it, she writes:
"Becoming sexually active is not to be entered into lightly. I have seen too many girls damaged by a decision that was not carefully considered. The results are usually confusion, loss of self-esteem and a cynical view of relationships. My problem with casual, random sex is that while it might be physically pleasurable, it cannot possibly be meaningful or allow for personal growth."
Due to her belief that no growth can be found in such relationships, she has further contributed to the portrayal of female sexuality as monstrous. To address this problem, instead of writing a relationship without sex, she could had both Xavier and Bethany deal with the issue rather than ignore it entirely.

Ignoring the issue is what often happens when publishers deal with books that have alternative sexualities in them. Books that express sexualities different from the norm are not publicized as widely, and even within their ranks, there is a trend of repressed gay female sexuality. As Younger points out, there is a "gender gap" with three books featuring gay males for every one featuring lesbian characters (Younger 50). Gay male characters are more accepted than lesbians.

Regardless of this trend, readers can still see a repression of the monster--anything that goes against the gender norms and against normative sexuality--in this community. Trisha Telep, an editor of young adult paranormal romance anthologies, attempted to publish Wicked Pretty Things: 13 Dark Faerie Tales in 2011 but failed in this endeavor after a series of confrontations between her and the other participating authors [8]. Telep asked one author, Jessica Verday, to change the male-male relationship in her story to a male-female relationship so as to avoid alternative sexualities, since those would attract less readers, and the publisher was displeased [4]. This, of course, brings up the question of how much this monster-sexuality effect is due to the authors themselves and how much can be attributed to editors, agents, and publishers. Although all the authors supported Verday's withdrawal from the anthology and helped bring about its end with their own withdrawals, it does not change the fact that most of young adult paranormal romance literature still portrays female sexuality as a monster. Novels that do not have any sexuality or romance within them are also often pushed to the side for the same reason as those with alternative sexualities: they don't sell as well as those with normative values.

To say that female sexuality is portrayed as a monster in all young adult paranormal romance does a disservice to the genre and to monster theory. The third thesis of monster theory predicts that categorizing the monster is not as easy as it may seem, for there are hybrids and the monster is a "form suspended between forms" and "threatens to smash distinctions." Certainly there are novels with positive depictions of female sexuality, and the monstrous depiction of sexuality is not solely restrained to female sexuality. Nor is it an effect solely started by Twilight. In fact, young adult paranormal romance published prior to the release of Twilight followed this trend, and one has even been adapted into a popular television show. The Vampire Diaries, published in 1999, has a summary [9] that fits the criteria previously established:
"A Love Triangle of Unspeakable Horror... 
Searching for the ultimate thrill, she vowed to have Stefan. 
Haunted by his tragic past, he struggled to resist her passion. 
Driven by revenge, he hunted the brother who betrayed him. 
The terrifying story of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them."
Again, it is the main male romantic interest who must restrain the female's passion. However, though some earlier novels like The Vampire Diaries follow the same categorical repression of female sexuality, there have still been many books trying to imitate the success of Twilight and subsequently incorporating similar monstrous portrayals over the past years.

In a similar light, there are novels that portray sex positively, but that is to be expected. In fact, this is where the sixth thesis of monster theory comes in: it predicts that the monster also attracts; that it provides "escapist fantasies" and "temporary egress from constraint." With such confines in literature, of course a counter culture will rise against the current standards. In the New York Times bestselling Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, Calla Tor, the protagonist, is a werewolf Guardian enslaved by witches in a dynamic which purposefully ensures that she remains a virgin until her mating ceremony. Nonetheless, from the beginning, Cremer has said that her trilogy would focus on Calla's sexual blossoming, so it portrays sex more positively than other novels within the same genre. However, Calla's sexuality still does create a kind of horror, as predicted by the sixth monster theory thesis, since her sexual attempts create complications in the Guardian's attempts to attain freedom.

The first and last theses, the only two not yet discussed, of monster theory ask readers why such a portrayal exists and how it is affected by culture today. For instance, why did Twilight achieve the success it did? Is there something within our society that encourages the likes of Bella Swan? Is there a perceived threat to the current patriarchy and a greater demand for normative gender roles? I'm not sure there is a clear answer to any of those questions, but if the release of Twilight influenced a teenager to write a novel advocating abstinence and ignorance, something needs to change. One of the more important points that Beth Younger makes is that these novels can be a huge source of information for teenagers. If none of these novels tell young women that it's okay to express their sexuality, the double standard between the sexes will continue to exist. I personally hope that the current popularity of The Hunger Games will create a new kind of heroine who isn't afraid to be strong in the way Katniss, the protagonist, is (although even within this trilogy, sexuality is again not truly addressed. Gender roles are redefined, but Suzanne Collins, the author, does not really focus on Katniss' sexual desires). Either way, it's time for young women to claim this long hidden aspect of their identities and for authors to write novels that reflect this shift.


[6] Adornetto, Alexandra. "Guard Your Virginity. Once Lost, It's, It's Gone Forever." The Sydney Morning Herald. National Times, 31 Jan. 2010. < its--gone-forever-20100130-n5g9.html>.

Angelini, Josephine. Starcrossed (Book one of the Starcrossed Trilogy). Ney York: HarperCollins Children's Books, 2011.

Carter, Aimee. The Goddess Test (Book one of The Goddess Test Trilogy). Ontario: Harlequin Teen, 2011.

[5] Clark, Blanche. "Halo Author Alexandra Adornetto Blessed with Heavenly Instincts." CourierMail. Courier Mail, 06 Aug. 2010. < blessed-with-heavenly-instincts/story-e6freqkx-1225902127867>.

[1] Cohen, Jeffrey, Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25.

[3] Condon, Stephanie. "GOP Candidates Blast Obama for Birth Control Ruling." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 22 Feb. 2012. < 503544/gop-candidates-blast-obama-for-birth-control-ruling/>.

[4] Deahl, Rachel. "Harper Teen Pays Seven Figures for Debut YA Trilogy." Publisher's Weekly, 05 Mar. 2010. < topic/book-news/deals/article/42335-harper- teen-pays-seven-figures-for-debut-ya-trilogy.html>

[2] Haney, Robert. Comstockery in America: Patterns of Censorship and Control. New York: Da Capo Press, 1974. 1-12, 51-65, 82-108.

O'Keefe, Deborah. Good Girl Message: How Young Women Were Misled by Their Favorite Books. New York: Continuum Publishing Group, 2000.

[8] Smith, L.J. "The Awakening (The Vampire Diaries #1)." Goodreads. Alloy Entertainment. <>.

White, Barbara A. Growing up Female: Adolescent Girlhood in American Fiction. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985.

[7] Verday, Jessica. "Being Gay Is Okay." Jessica Verday. Jessica Verday, 21 Mar. 2011. <>

Younger, Beth. Learning Curves: Body Image and Female Sexuality in Young Adult Literature. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2009.


The obvious exception to this old essay is a recent trend towards portraying teenage sex in a titillating fashion. But I wonder how much of that is really encouraging girls that their sexuality is okay so much as just meant to make the book feel 'edgy' and sell well. Maybe more on that note another time.

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