Should Underage Sex Scenes be Descriptive?

This is an issue that only arises as one transitions from being a teenager to being an adult. It happens mostly as a result of shift in perceptions, where rereading the same section that you had no problem with when you were younger suddenly feels kind of weird.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Why am I even talking about this?

Well, it all started when I decided to go over a certain section in Cassandra Clare’s Lady Midnight. I don’t really know why I was; the book was a little too predictable for my tastes. But that’s besides the point.

Anyhow, in Lady Midnight, there is a sex scene between two of the main characters, both of who are seventeen when the events take place. When I had first read it, I thought there was nothing wrong (I had just turned eighteen). However, rereading it now, I felt that it got a little too descriptive, the number “seventeen” ringing in the back of my head. In Lord of Shadows, it gets even more descriptive.

The odd feeling got me thinking about other YA books with underage sex scenes written into them. More often than not, the sex scenes I’ve read usually involve the characters being eighteen or nineteen. But sometimes, they are younger. Which, there would be nothing wrong with that, had they not gotten so descriptive.

What do I mean by descriptive? I don’t mean when the narrator describes feelings and emotional roller coasters. Rather, I mean explicit mentions of penetrations and other physicality. When I was a teenager myself, I had no problem with this. In fact, I got excited by how daring the author would be. But now it feels kind of strange to read it being so descriptive, especially when the female character is specifically described as looking like a child. What makes it worse is when the author points out those childlike features during a scene, and then I want to skip the entire scene.

But, is the descriptiveness really so bad? Usually when the underage scene is written, the characters are seventeen or almost seventeen. Paired with the fact that the average age in the US for having sex for the first time is seventeen, then there really shouldn’t be an issue. These books are for kids from thirteen to around eighteen, and the scenes are catering towards that audience. So there really should be no issue, right?

Well personally, I would prefer them not to mention any penetration. But, if I was my younger self, I may not have an issue with that description.

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