Tag Archives: sex

Should You Include a Trigger Warning?

There’s some discussion about trigger warnings on books. Should you include them for your book? The answer is “Maybe”. Let’s take a look at what kind of content may require trigger warnings.

trigger-warnings-include | I Am RosaIn a previous post, I explained trigger warnings and why you may want to include one in the description of your book. You can read it here.

I understand that there are some readers who go overboard, wanting warnings for ridiculous things or not reading the book description to see a warning and then complaining there wasn’t a warning. Some warnings might limit your marketing options with libraries and schools. Things like this can make authors feel like they’re in a no-win situation or overwhelmed by the struggle to decide whether or not you need a trigger warning.

I’m not suggesting every story or scenario needs a warning. Your genre and blurb should give readers a general idea of what to expect. And, a well written story will give the reader a lead up to disturbing events, assuming the reader isn’t so engrossed (or oblivious) to notice. But, your genre and the indication of mature content is not always enough. I’m asking you to consider adding trigger warnings – or at least making it clear in your blurb – if your story includes any of the following:

  • Rape
  • Abuse (physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual)
  • Child abuse/pedophilia
  • Self-injurious behavior (ie. self-harm, eating disorders, etc.)
  • Suicide
  • Kidnapping, forceful deprivation of/disregard for personal autonomy
  • Depiction or denial of oppression, marginalization, illness, or differences
  • Anything that may trigger phobias or OCD thoughts

 

 

If you write Young or New Adult books, there are additional issues that need to be considered. For example, the words stupid and dumb are generally deemed “normal” or “lesser offenses” by older audiences (and authors), however today’s society considers these words slurs.

Young and New Adult

  • Swearing
  • Slurs
  • Sex (even consensual)
  • Pregnancy/childbirth
  • Drug use
  • Descriptions and/or pictures of medical procedures
  • Descriptions and/or pictures of violence or warfare
  • Death or dying
  • Shaming, hatred, and -isms (ie. racism, fat shaming, anti LGTBQ+ views etc.)
  • Scarification (body modification created by cutting, scratching, etching, or burning designs, pictures, or words into the skin)
do-you-need | I Am Rosa
Please, feel free to pin and/or share this list

It’s Just a Kiss … Really?

There’s been a lot of controversy about the situation in Pikesville, Maryland where a tween boy grabbed and kissed a girl on a dare.  Why is everyone making such a big deal about a 13 year old boy kissing another 8th grader?  Is filing sexual assault charges too harsh of a response??  In a word:  No.

 

 

I’ve been that kid  kissed by a boy who was dared to do it.  It was terrifying to be held down and have someone force a kiss on me. I was told by adults that I was making a big deal out of nothing. This was in first grade. It was the first of many similar incidents that was permitted to happen to me and they never stopped being terrifying.

When I was grabbed and French-kissed against my will a few years later, I was told, “He doesn’t understand what he’s doing”.

When I was cat-called, followed, groped, and grabbed, I was told, “He’s just showing you that he likes you.”

When I was stalked and a dude snuck into the house to watch me, “He’s just being friendly. He comes over all the time.”

He just wants to show how much he likes you …. It’s not a big dealIt’s just a jokeYou’re over-reacting

These dismissals and the reactions I got from others told me I should welcome this behaviour and, moreover, I should be FLATTERED. How ungrateful of me to complain or report this “normal boy behaviour”.  And, when I snapped and retaliated against one of these boys, *I* was the problem. There was something wrong with *ME* for being upset.

Sex gets equated to care and love. “If you really love him, you’d put out” “If you don’t give him what he wants, he’ll find someone who does and you’ll be all alone.” These are things that were actually said to me by adults.

Where does it end for a girl taught that this is “normal”? Or, the boy who is given permission by society to take liberties?  Let me share an incident from my past with you …

 

vintage-children-drawing | I Am Rosa

Games can get out of control, especially when it comes to “dares”. When I was in cadets, we took a trip to England. During our travels, we were left without adult supervision. You’d think a bunch of teens could behave themselves for an hour or so, right?  Apparently not.  See, someone suggested a game. “Truth or Dare” to be exact. I wasn’t into it, so I curled up in a corner and had a nap.  When I woke up, I could tell something was wrong.  There was a strain.  A darkness that hung over everyone’s heads.  No one could look each other in the eye.  The camaraderie was gone. “Why?” I asked. “What happened?”  A game happened.  A stupid dare.

See, there had been some flirting between one of the guys and a female cadet.  One of his friends dared him to have sex with her. Right there. In front of everyone to prove it happened. They were pressured by the group – their “friends” – and the stakes of the game. He felt like he had to in order to save face and the others pressured this young girl … Remember we were all about 15 at the time.

To this day, I wish I hadn’t fallen asleep. I was always the voice of morals and conscious (which usually meant I got ditched). I would have said something.  I would have ratted them out before it happened.  I could have stopped them somehow – some way … But, I was napping and no one else spoke up. So, right there on a boat these 2 terrified teens were pressured into having sex, surrounded by strangers and supposed friends. It destroyed them.kiss | I Am RosaDebate all you want about whether or not this young man should face criminal charges, but understand this: It’s not about a kiss. It’s about a social mindset that’s dangerous and wrong.