The Odd Feelings That Arise Regarding Kids and Sex
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things Book Review
I just finished this work of fiction called All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, it was the 2016 Book of the Year Winner and the author Bryn Greenwood was raised and still lives in Kansas, which is pretty cool since I am from there myself.
Anyhoo. In this book a 10 year-old-girl and a 22-year-old-man fall in love with each other.
The author does a pretty good job at getting a well-rounded perspective on the situation, coming from multiple character points of view, yet the entire time I felt incredibly queasy.
I kept waiting for something to happen that I didn’t think would happen, like them parting ways for example, and yet the relationship kept developing fuller, deeper, creepier.
Now, I get that in other cultures many women marry right around the time of puberty. I suppose this makes sense in at least a biological way. I mean, what defines womanhood more than the ability to have children? (I am not saying having children makes someone a woman nor am I saying only humans who have periods are women, I know there might be some outrage here about this. I’m saying the ability to create and give birth is one major defining characteristic of feminine power.) Whatever, that’s not what this is about anyway.
What this is about is how awkward and weird it is in the United States today for anything like a tween and an adult having sex / getting married to happen.
There are laws put in place by the government that dictates the age of consent.
It’s unfortunate that they can’t instead dictate the age of emotional intelligence with regards to sexual consent because that would actually make way more sense. For example, I’m sure there are some incredibly smart / self-reflective / emotionally mature 15-year-olds who could handle a romantic relationship with someone way better than some 45-year-olds could. And yet, many people would argue that no, a 15-year-old is not fully developed and thus cannot make those kinds of decisions.
I personally think it’s all situational and cannot be defined or boxed into a sweeping generalization based on age.
Should a 10-year-old and a 22-year-old fuck?
Nah. Prob not.
But if they wait ten years then 20 and 32 isn’t as weird. The whole life-experience thing really helps with these scenarios.
One thing I do think we’re missing culturally though is the understanding that children do have a sexual nature. Sure, they are not fully developed but how many kids strip their Barbies naked and have them rub against each other? How many dry hump their stuffed animals or play “doctor” (do they still call it that?) with each other when they’re supposed to be napping?
Should they be shamed for this exploration? Shaming seems to be a pretty typical route in America when I’m wondering if there isn’t a better way to educate them at their level on understanding this secret adult world a little bit more? Wouldn’t this help with communication in the future when they’re old enough to explore? Wouldn’t this help them perhaps NOT get into some weird sex thing with someone twice their age?
Of course, the characters in this book had a slew of other fucked up things happen to them and thus the relationships that were created were way more complicated.
I get why so many people have hang-ups about sex. Our childhoods were a big part in shaping us into the weird prudish sluts that so many of us are.
Honestly, I’m just trying to come to terms with the uneasiness I felt from this story. Has anyone else read it? Here’s a link to All the Ugly and Wonderful Things if you haven’t and you’re interested in giving it a whirl. Would love to discuss either the book or some of the above topics, feel free to leave your comments below or email me directly.