Monday, February 15, 2016

DISCUSSION: Birth Control in Books

Let’s talk about sex.
Specifically, let’s talk about birth control.

It’s a normal part of life, right? Or at least, it should be.

I have read countless YA books with sex scenes (and many adult fiction ones as well) and birth control is rarely mentioned. Why is that? I know that many YA readers are adults, but there are young people reading these books too. Shouldn’t these readers see the characters have sex while being safe? Maybe authors think that takes away from the “romance” of the scenes. Or maybe the don't even think about it, which is scarier.

I know that authors want readers to engage in fantasy and escape and all that and maybe injecting a little realism spoils the fun. 
But it is possible to talk about birth control and condoms without ruining the mood. When I see birth control or condoms being talked about in ANY book, I do such a happy dance. I probably should have included that in my stuff I want to see more of in books post, right?

Here are a couple of books that do talk about condoms or some sort of birth control:
Wreckage by Emily Bleeker – IUD (this one is rarely talked about, so even though the mention was brief, I loved it)
The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand - condoms
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn - condoms
Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate – Plan B contraception


These are just the ones that I can remember off the top of my head. I am sure others are out there, but I haven’t read them. Two of the books mentioned are YA and the other two are adult fiction. 

I really wish there were more! 

Do you ever think about why there is no mention of birth control in books? Do you wish there were? Are there any books you have read that do mention it?

39 comments :

  1. OMG this bothers me so much! People don't just randomly have sex without consequences and too many books don't address any kind of birth control or even a conversation about that. UGH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie, I am so glad you can relate! And in this day and age, it's even more unusual when they don't talk about it.

      Delete
  2. I'm starting to read more adult contemporary romance and birth control is actually pretty prevalent in most the books I've read so far (usually condoms). The YA I've read are usually not romance focused, so there haven't been too many sex scenes, actually can't think of one right now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Library Huntress, that is very good to hear. Adult romance is not my normal genre, but I have read several over the last year and there was no mention of birth control. Maybe I am just not reading the right ones? And while YA books tend to focus more on romance, I have read several books where they actually have sex, but do not mention birth control. It bugs me to no end!

      Delete
  3. Some writers have a very clever way of bringing up birth control, and even making it part of a sensuous scene. I like that!

    Here is MUSING MONDAYS POST

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Laurel! When that does happen, I love it. :)

      Delete
  4. I cringe a little bit when authors don't bring up birth control (especially in NA)! I don't think it really kills the mood! In real life (you would hope that) you would talk about birth control.

    Great discussion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Cyn! It's really crazy in this day and age for them not to talk about it.

      Delete
  5. It really annoys me when books don't have characters using condoms, especially when it's a first-time hook-up rather than an established relationship. Interesting that you include Laura Florand. I just read one of her books for the first time (The Chocolate Thief), and the main character gets upset for about half a second afterward that they didn't use a condom -- but then they never do seem to use condoms for any subsequent sex either.

    In Miranda Kenneally's YA books, when character do have sex, they do talk about condoms and being safe, and it's just a natural part of the considerations about whether or not to have sex.

    Great discussion topic!

    Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lisa! And yes, I do remember that about The Chocolate Thief! I have read her entire series and I believe the one I mentioned is the ONLY one where condoms are mentioned and used. It's so weird! I do love her books, but that is one thing that irks me.

      Delete
  6. Such good points!! I am always happy when it is mentioned in a sex scene in a book. I can't think of examples right now though. I always think it is good to address. Great topic!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do actually feel like most of the YA books I read mention this if they characters are going to have sex? So maybe I'm just lucky and have hit on the books that are doused in reality. XD But yes! It is a worry when it's just overlooked...because it makes the story unrealistic. And unrealistic books...grrr. Not good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cait, yeah maybe I am not reading the right ones! Or maybe I have read a few of the ones you have, but can't remember them right now. It just bugs me when they don't mention it all. In this day and age, it is super unrealistic not to have that discussion.

      Delete
  8. Yes, I think particularly in YA/NA they need to mention it. It takes two seconds to mention, he reached in his back pocket or nightstand for a condom. Most adult books I read do, occasionally they will forget and I think really?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true Kimba! I mean, really, even in the books I mentioned, it didn't take a long time to talk about it. Just a quick "hey, let's use this" or whatever. One line, that's all it takes!

      Delete
  9. hadn't really thought about it before - don't read much YA and the ones that I have i dont think have had any sex in them (memory bad today!:) adult books - no I don't believe condoms are mentioned often, I have to admit romance type books are not really my thing but still.

    it is a good point - it takes just a few words, shouldn't spoil the mood so much - could be put in after - thoughtfulness of his action when she'd thinking about it that sort of things

    https://albertareads.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/identity-theft-musing-monday/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alberta! I know there aren't too many YA books with sex in them, but of the ones I have read, condoms and birth control are so rarely mentioned. So annoying! And yeah, it would only take one line and BAM, they are using condoms. Argh.

      Delete
  10. Ugh yes! I would also really want YA to talk about how birth control ISN'T only used as a contraception, especially with girls with heavy periods or other medical reasons (like I do), like the pill! I know so many girls taking the pill, that I find it surprising that it is barely mentioned at all in YA. I think I read one book where the pill was mentioned, but it was only because she was in a relationship and her boyfriend didn't want to use a condom.

    Yep so basically, birth control. Yes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Valerie, YES! That is such a good point! Pills are used for more than just birth control. It's crazy that the pill is rarely mentioned at all. Argh, annoying.

      Delete
  11. YES this is SO. TRUE. I mean, I agree with what Val said about birth control as a medication too. But also, birth control should NOT equal "whore" or the need to explain oneself. I know when I was younger, I had to take the pill because of ovarian cysts (trust me, there was nooooo sex happening- like, less than none, if that is possible? haha) but I still felt like I had to justify to everyone around me that I was taking it for medical reasons. Why the taboo? I mean, it's PROVEN that abstinence only education DOES. NOT. WORK. So let's cut the crap and teach young adults to be responsible and safe.

    There were a few books I read where they did talk about contraceptives, or protective devices. There was actually one really recently, what the heck was it!? OOOH OH! I know! But I feel like it's actually kind of a spoiler, so I won't tell you. BUT it goes to show that even in complete fantasy worlds, you can send a good message!

    FABULOUS, fabulous post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Shannon! And yeah, WHO CARES why people are on the pill, as long as they are using it?? Yes, girls do use it for more than just birth control. But what is wrong with a girl just saying, "Hey, I like sex and don't want to get pregnant, so I take the pill." Why is that so bad?? And okay, now you HAVE to tell me which book you are talking about with the birth control!! If it's in a fantasy world, that's still quite amazing and I want to make sure I read it. :)

      Delete
  12. Yeah, I know what you mean! And any mention of anything BUT a condom is pretty much non-existent. Like are none of these girls on the Pill? YA still has a lot to go in terms of depicting sex accurately and realistically.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true Loony Literate! It's just crazy insane. I mean, we are in the year 2016, for crying out loud. Even if kids are stupid enough not to use a condom (which I know some are), there are SO MANY girls in real life that are on the pill. This should be depicted more in books.

      Delete
  13. I agree with the fact that young people reading should have a more realisitic idea of lovemaking which Birth Control should be involved. However,that same young person should already be aware of the facts of Birth Control before reading any books -fantasy or not- it is not the author's job to educate the young.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joann, I do agree with you on that. To think that an author should be educating young girls IS extremely unrealistic and I didn't mean to imply that I thought this should be the case. i think it's more of a case of realism. I just don't think it's realistic for all these young people in books to refrain from using birth control like they are.

      Delete
  14. Ooh, this is a great topic. I talked about this a while back - but my post was about romance in general, not just YA. Yeah, I dislike irresponsible sex and I think that in adult contemporary romance, mentioning a condom has become pretty common, so it's super weird if the couple just fall into bed without taking care of protection.
    In historical romance, you usually expect the couple to marry once they have sex, which doesn't really cover diseases and such (especially tricky since the usual situation is that the girl is a virgin while the guy slept around a lot...). Eh.

    But I agree, it's especially important to talk about birth control in YA books, safe sex is - or should be - a topic of conversation among teens. Thanks for listing the examples! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Kaja. And I can completely understand why birth control isn't mentioned in historical fiction. For one thing, the pill was illegal during certain time periods (stupid). And like you said, women often waited until marriage to have sex and then after marriage, they wanted all the babies. I hate it, but you can't change history.

      Delete
  15. It does make me happy when birth control is mentioned in books! Whether it's YA or adult. I even read one adult M-M romance in which they decided to go get tested together. And I just read another series in which the character made sure to stop by the pharmacy on her way out of town after the apocalypse in order to get some birth control pills, which was really rather ridiculous but at least the author had her practice safe sex (and I think condoms were used too), so I can't complain too much.

    It so does not ruin the romance of the scene. If anything, if they use no protection, that ruins the romance for me because I get all aggravated about how stupid they're being lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristen, okay that one about the apocalypse sounds so cool! I know at first glance, it seems a little weird. But if there were an apocalypse, I would think that preventing against pregnancy would be a huge priority. And I love that M-M romance you mentioned where they went to get tested together. I did just read a M-M romance and condoms were used, which made me happy. And yeah, if I am just thinking about how stupid it is that they aren't using any protection, then it ruins the whole story. Ha

      Delete
  16. I've mentioned this to my authors when I edit before (typically NA, not YA). I usually urge them to have the characters grab a condom at some point! LOL!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha Nicole, that is too funny. I am glad you are mentioning that! I am sure most authors just don't think about it.

      Delete
  17. I have seen some books talk about condoms, but it is just in passing. It is sad to see such a small amount of books bring it up, you know? Like, it is a shameful secret to hide. I haven't seen any books talk about oral birth control. That makes me depressed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lyn, that is so true. Condoms are important (especially with casual sex), but SO MANY WOMEN take the pill! You would think ore authors would include that.

      Delete
  18. I feel like there are so many unrealistic things that readers find, that sometimes you don't even notice important life things! I will admit that I had never thought of that! I was always so focused on the fact that authors write about how a character's first time having sex is magical and wonderful with "the one." When in reality, the characters should also be talking about things like birth control, condoms, and STDs. I'm rambling, but great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adventures with a book nerd, that is also a really good point about a character's first time. The first time you have sex is usually awkward and messy and you have no idea what you are doing (regardless of whether you are a man or a woman), but books rarely show this side of it. And of course, they never have the conversation about birth control and STD's. Annoying

      Delete
  19. I ♥♥♥ this post and it is so important! I wish we saw more birth control in books and an honest discussion about it! Going to check out the books you mentioned

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Eva! I hope you do. Birth control is such an important topic. It needs to be featured more for sure.

      Delete