Sunday, September 25, 2011

Banned Books Week Day 2: Can a book make you have sex?

Some books Banned for being Sexually Explicit:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Banned for defining oral sex in Southern California in 2010.
 -A definition cannot be called “glorifying” sex, so here is an example of trying to squash knowledge of the act itself.  Will knowing of something’s existence alone make you want to do it? 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Banned for its violence, which I’ll discuss later, but also its sexual content.  Does anyone who read this remember any sex in this book?  Finnick later mentions his sexual exploits in “Mockingjay,” but those aren’t even gone into explicit detail.  This one is a real head scratcher for me.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – Both banned for scenes containing masturbation.  I’ve never read a masturbation scene in literature that has “glorified” it.  I know that there are some who believe that masturbation is a horrible crime.  I disagree and am apt to believe that everyone tries it whether they read a book about it or not, or even know the word for it.

What’s Happening to My Body?  Book for Boys: A Growing-up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras and Dane Saavedra – How dare a book about sexual changes in boys define sex?  Next thing they’ll do is put the term “oral sex” in the dictionary.  Actually, the objectionable passages were the definitions of “rape,” “incest,” and “sexual assault.”  I really hope that parents don’t believe that just the knowledge of these words will make their children try it.  I also hope they don’t believe that by pretending that these things do not exist will make them disappear.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins – Banned for several reasons including it’s sexually explicit material, which in the case of this book is a rape.  Again, I should hope that parents don’t believe that the very knowledge of the existence of rape is dangerous.  Maybe you don’t what your child to know the darker parts of the world.  Problem is, part of passing into adulthood is learning about these things, and a book very well might be the safest way.  Would you rather they learned it from a movie or, God forbid, the internet?

I understand the desire to protect young people from adult topics; to keep the veil of childhood on a bit longer.  I’m an advocate of parents reading what their children read and helping them come to terms with it.  When books like this are banned from curriculum in schools, children and teens are denied the chance to work through these issues with their peers and a teacher.  And what about the kids who already know about sex and are trying to figure out their feelings on it.  As Sherman Alexie said about his childhood:

They wanted to protect me from sex when I had already been raped. They wanted to protect me from evil though a future serial killer had already abused me. They wanted me to profess my love for God without considering that I was the child and grandchild of men and women who’d been sexually and physically abused by generations of clergy.”


  1. Good post - I remember nothing in Hunger Games at all.... that one baffles me

  2. So people are more offended by apparently forgettable sex in The Hunger Games than by the idea of butchering kids on TV? Weird priorities.

    I learned the mechanics of sex from the World Book Encyclopedia. Probably should ban that too!

  3. It's banned for both. According to the ALA Top 10 Books banned in 2010, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins was #5 on the list. Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence.

    I find it interesting that "oral sex" was the reason the Dictionary was challenged. Insidious oral sex!