The bookstores love the summer season and tables are filled with books targeted for summer vacation. For women, the big development in publishing has been the development of a new form of pornography disguised as a “romance novel.” These ripping romantic tales feature detailed sex scenes in the text and airbrushed eroticism on the cover. Now, publishers have developed pornography for the younger generation of women, targeting teen girls with tales of romance, sexual exploration, and empowerment. The sex is front and center, with some books offering what amounts to advice on sexual technique for teens. Most parents know that teenage boys are tempted by visual pornography. How many parents are paying attention to what their daughters are reading? Consider two books by author Hailey Abbott. In Summer Boys and Next Summer, Abbott introduces a cast of beautiful, wealthy, fashionable, and over-sexed teenagers. The sex scenes are far too explicit to be quoted here, but just consider this run-up to the real steam, taken from Summer Boys: “Ella walked into the dunes, not knowing what else to do. She climbed the first mound of loose sand, her feet sinking with each step. She descended to a small valley, then climbed again. She reached top and froze. Down the hill in front of her, Peter was lying on his back, his body propped up against the next rise. He’d taken his shirt off and tucked it behind his head. He looked incredible, sprawled against the sand, his bronze skin glinting in the moonlight. Ella looked at his flat stomach and noticed that the top button of his shorts was undone.” The boy’s greeting was rather direct. “No one is allowed to talk until they’ve taken their shirt off.” Very little is left to the imagination. Next Summer is even more explicit, with scenes and story lines that will send parents into cardiac arrest. The girls are presented as sexually-driven, while the boys are described in terms of physical attractiveness–something of a role reversal. The characters, especially the girls, wear the latest fashions from Abercrombie and Anthropologie (items carefully chosen for maximum erotic effect in order to attract boys) and carry Kate Spade purses. Popularity, attractiveness, consumerism, and sexual adventures are packaged as the avenues to an idealized adolescent adventure. And note this–the books are published by Scholastic, Inc. through its Alloy Entertainment division. Many parents will remember Scholastic from school book fairs. As they say, times have changed. Parents–look in those book bags.
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