So one of my friends, who has been reading my rough draft of a book I am working on, leant me a book in a similar style to my own writing and with the same sort of target audience - 'Before I Die', by Jenny Downham. Basically, it's about a sixteen-year-old girl dying of leukemia, and decides to 'live life' namely dabble in drugs, alcohol and crime, but number-one on the list is, of course, sex.
The blurb at the back proudly says it all:
'It's really going to happen. They said it would happen, but this was quicker than anyone thought.'
Everyone has to die. We all know it.
With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most. She's made a list though - ten things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight.
As I was reading the book at lunchtime a boy, being the charming polite gentleman as boys always are at this age, yanked it out of my hand and started to read the blurb out loud, quite loudly too, before he reached the ultimate taboo word: sex. He then looked at me as if to say 'What kind of slut are you, anyway?'
It's always the boys who are supposed to be interested in sex. Girls aren't supposed to be interested in sex, because interest in sex invariably leads you to getting pregnant.
But sex is an inevitable part of growing up, and yes, for girls too. Of course we're interested in sex, of course we think about sex. Sex is a part of life, much like eating or sleeping or breathing or having to go to the loo. If I were sixteen and about to die then yes, sex would be on my bucket list. I'm a girl, not the Virgin Mary - and in case you didn't notice, abstinence didn't really protect her from pregnancy anyway.
I've always found it degrading that an interest, or even a thought given to sex is a complete taboo for girls, and not for boys - in fact, the terms 'virgin' and 'male' just don't seem to correlate unless you're a Jonas Brother. An interest and curiousity in sex is part of being human, not part of being a slut. And really, we should have more sympathy for fictional terminally-ill teenagers. And the not-so-fictional, healthy ones, too.