Why Books Matter

For those who don’t read or don’t believe that a book can make a difference, I say tut, tut. Since becoming an adult, and even in my formative years to becoming one, I have been greatly exposed to the power of the written word.

Some of my favorite memories as a kid are when my dad would take my sisters and me to the library. Shelf upon shelf filled with beautiful, colorful books that were just waiting to be plucked and read. He often had to limit his rambunctious daughters to 5 books, or maybe that was just me. Either way, I always went home a happy camper.

I didn’t read as much for pleasure in middle school and high school, not because it wasn’t “cool” but because I was a tri-sport athlete and sometimes just had enough trouble keeping up with my schoolwork. I did manage to read Harry Potter and I’m sure some other books but not nearly as much as I did when I went to college and discovered the joys of ILL (Inter-Library Loan).

And now, I don’t live anywhere without locating the nearest library and upon moving to my most recent location, I had a library card within two weeks. And I am loving every minute of being a part of that community. So this post was partly inspired by memory and partly by another posting. A fellow blogger, Hey, Library Girl!, posted an article about things she had read this week that inspired her and one of them really spoke to me as well.

The article was posted on the School Library Journal and is entitled “How Librarians Can Help Fight the Culture of Slut-Shaming”. Writer Karen Jensen talks about how YA books are discussing sex, sexuality, and the “s” word more and more and how librarians (and other influencers) can use these messages to broach the subject in their communities.

Often times, society is so enraptured with sex that we don’t take the time to think about why it impacts us in the way that it does. Different lessons are taught to different genders and now more than ever, there are kids who are being trapped in the middle or bullied because they are different from their peers.

The two quotes from the article below really emphasize  why it is important to discuss these topics with our youth:

“We sexualize girls at a young age, and we objectify women in order to sell everything from hamburgers to sports cards. Yet, we stigmatize women who take control of their sexuality, especially if they adopt the same practices men are often lauded for.”

“…the flip side to slut-shaming is our equally destructive view of male sexuality. Starting young, many men are told that virility is a primary characteristic of manhood…choosing to wait, or being slow to become interested, will lead teens to be labeled gays, geeks, or something else.”

Neither side is a good one to be on and our judgmental nature only serves to further alienate people and point out the differences rather than the similarities. Sex, like many other things, is a sensitive topic. But that doesn’t mean it should be ignored or tossed to the wayside, important lessons coming from inappropriate or misinformed sources.

People everywhere are hard at work to change the culture of labeling that has becoming the norm in today’s world. And sex is just another front that the battle needs to be fought on, one that is becoming increasingly important, especially in the face of issues like the Nicki Minaj album cover conundrum.

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