Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Before everyone gets hot and bothered



There's a story circulating about a woman who complained when she came across this display in her local bookstore.

Much is going to be made of the fact she ghost-wrote Bristol Palin's memoir; that she's a Christian.

Well I didn't write Bristol Palin's anything, and while I'm a practicing Catholic, I'm not a fundamentalist.

And I agree with her.

She's not calling for the books not to be in the store. She's not asking anyone to boycott the store. She's certainly not asking for anyone to be arrested on obscenity charges.

Very reasonably I believe, she asked the store to simply move this display to a less front-and-center location.


Other branches of this chainstore have sexuality sections and they're close to self-help not the front of the store.

I'd be mortified to come into a store with a kid and have that display in our faces. I'm all for honest talk about sex with kids with kids about sex (argh!) but can we all just acknowledge this display is NOT designed for education or edification. It's using sex to sell books. And I'm all for selling books, but holy moly.  It's hard enough to not have kids drenched in sexual images these days. The last place we should have to worry about that is a bookstore.

Your opinion may vary.  Let me know. Vituperative invective will be deleted.

66 comments:

Wry Wryter said...

Yea, what you said. I had to look up vituperative invective

Joyce Tremel said...

Thank you, Janet! I agree, too. I really dislike having this stuff shoved in my face.

Now can you do something about those drug commercials for a certain dysfunction that they run incessantly? I'm just glad I don't have young children and have to explain what it is.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Joyce, I agree! It's difficult to explain what Viagra is for to a kid. Luckily my local bookstore usually keeps books on sexuality in a more out-of-the-way location. Every once in a while, though, I've caught something on a "NEW HARDCOVER" table or something like that, but it's usually one or two books, not a whole table of them.

My sister writes books on sexuality, and I generally think of myself as an open-minded person. I wouldn't want to walk through the store with an inquisitive five-year-old while he loudly asked what oral sex meant. Sure, it's a teachable moment, but the display table at the front of a bookstore isn't the best place for that kind of teachable moment.

Find a nice shelf over in the self-help section, and display them to your heart's content. Don't put them on a table in the front of the store, next to tables displaying board games, picture books, and Percy Jackson.

Leah said...

So, if I walked into a bookstore with my daughter (she's four) and saw this, front and center, I'd probably turn around and walk back out.

And I'm a liberal Jew.

So go figure...our values aren't *always* so conflicting as people believe.

Just on...other issues...

Loretta Nyhan said...

I'm a hippy-dippy liberal and I totally agree.

I know my sons would have died on the spot if we walked in Books a Million and saw that.

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

I have kids that are finally at an age where they can manage to process certain kinds of violence, but having sex thrown into their faces would not make me happy at all.

I get that sex sells books (and in this case, it obviously has to), but what is happening to our filter?

I think it is okay if they want to display their sexuality books front and center if they believe it will really help sales, but perhaps the advert material could then be toned down a little bit.

Elanor Lawrence said...

Thank you! I personally dislike these books, period, but I understand that people have a right to produce them. Freedom of speech, right? And along that same vein, bookstores do have a right to put them wherever they'd like in the store. I don't believe that I, as the customer, have a 'right' to not see that material.

However, I do have the right to complain, or to choose not to go to that store again. If they're blatantly promoting something that I find offensive, or that I would find difficult to explain if I was going with my little sisters, then I'll simply not go to that bookstore anymore.

Basically, I think that display is likely setting the completely wrong vibe for the store. If they only want to attract a certain kind of adult, then by all means keep it there. But if they want kids to come, or adults who are a little more conservative, using that display seems a little counterproductive.

Brandi M. said...

There's no reason to have a giant display like that in the front of the store. And you can see the Kid's section right behind it, so they'd have to walk right by this thing to get to the Percy Jackson books. Not the best idea for sure.

JennaQuentin said...

I agree - especially with the Laura Hughes comment about an inquisitive five year-old. It's all about timing and place and being appropriate!

SiSi said...

I'm about as liberal as you can get, I don't have children, and I agree 100% with you. I understand all about the right to free speech and I know that bookstores are somewhat desperate to sell books (and probably looking to cash in on 50 Shades of Grey), but this is going too far. Makes me long for simple basic courtesy and consideration of others.

Also, it really annoys me when anyone who doesn't like such blatant sexual advertising is labled a prude or a fundamentalist.

Ann Landsberger said...

Thanks again, "Fifty Shades of Gray". ::blech::

Maja said...

I think there is too much focus on protecting the innocence of children. I grew up in a country where TV commercials featured naked people using products like shampoo and soap. This never seemed strange to me; I never felt uncomfortable seeing naked bodies in the media, nor do I think that children should. I was not corrupted and they will not be either. They may be curious, but that's a good thing. "What are they doing?" How about simply, "Something grown-ups do when they love each other. We can talk about it later."

Reading the article, the woman claims that the display is facing out near the front of the store, not that it's front and centre as you walk in. It's avoidable if you don't want to see it.

Sexuality is a part of life, and I see no reason for it to be hidden at the back.

Jen said...

I'm curious as to whether or not such an open display would actually sell any more books. Wouldn't the embarrassment factor keep most people well away from them?

Surely you don't want to be spotted flipping through that book where other shoppers can see you. Because, you know, doesn't it imply that at the moment you're giving her completely forgettable oral sex?

Angel Rodrigues said...

As long as we put our dollars behind sex sells type of mentality stores that rely on those dollars in an age of online buying will use what they know works. We can't fault the bookstore for trying to survive in an economic hardship. We can however get together and ask them to be more respectful of their audience, which includes children. They could have it off to the side and not in direct eye shot of a child on their way to the child friendly reading section. At the end of the day, they don't have to comply though.

Colin Smith said...

No surprise to anyone that knows me and/or my blog: I agree with you Janet. Parents should have the right to raise these topics with their kids in their own time, when they think their kids are ready to handle them. Some might be okay with their kids being exposed to this from a young age, others prefer to wait until their kids are more mature. Heck, there are plenty of *adults* that would rather not see this stuff! I would hope that a civilized society would respect this.

There's my 2-cents.

Gary Corby said...

A 21 year old has published a memoir? Seriously?

Is it flash fiction?

Jared X said...

I have kids. They're teens now, but they were little not so long ago.

If I walked by this display with them any time up to, say, fifth grade, they simply would not have noticed. When they're really young, they can't read. Even when they can, printed sexual imagery (TV/movies are different) is nearly invisible to the child in his/her latency period. No different than me walking by a Swahili language poster: it's information bouncing off a brain that's incapable of processing it.

In middle school and high school, it becomes a little uncomfortable. But really, so what? We walk by it together, slightly awkward, and make conversation about something else. Maybe I even make a joke about it. No harm done other than a little blushing and glance-averting.

If you're an adult and uncomfortable with this, walk on by. Like me wandering into the Self Help/Inspiration section, the books are just for somebody else. Also, blushing burns calories, you know.

Book stores are struggling. If this sells books (the store owner is the best to judge), God bless them for doing it. I love all bookstores and will come back next time.

Hope said...

If your kid is FOUR...to them, its a picture of LEGS for cryin out loud. If yer kid can't read...calm down. You are just adding to the perpetuation of womens bodys being 'dirty' or overtly sexual. And p.s. you do not have to tell your small child the whole truth and nothing but the truth... tell them it's an exercise book... tell your older kid you think its dumb if you think its dumb... teach your kids to have their own opinions... it's a scary, scary world full of naked legs, and crackheads and mean people and dirty things and illegally parked cars and bad tv shows... it's a friggin bookstore calm down.

Eric said...

I completely agree with you. There's nothing wrong with having the books in the store, but they don't need to be displayed for every young child to see (and kids notice EVERYTHING). Keep this stuff appropriately displayed.

Megan Coakley said...

Actually, I'm objecting to the idea that all women's legs are airbrushed down to the size of my arm, and that, apparently, we will all have to wax and wear high-heeled sandals if we want to have great oral sex. For that load of crap alone I'd ask them to move the display.

These are interesting arguments. One of my guys taught himself to read when he was three, so I guess he could have read the poster out loud and asked what the heck it meant. I would have lied. I think our teenagers are already living in a hyper-sexualized world, and there's no going back from that.

As far as a business model, I'm all for bookstores making money. I enthusiastically support making money off of "50 Shades," because what's good for publishing is good for me, the romance writer. But didn't "50 Shades" get popular as an e-book? So, is this bookstore going to sell many hard copies of "Great Oral Sex," or are interested readers going to go to the privacy of their own home and order it on Amazon?

Whirlochre said...

For centuries, kids were taught to 'know their place'. Maybe someone should tell the guys behind this aggressive campaign that, nowadays, said place is 'kinda everywhere'.

Papillon crew said...

Am I missing something? The article begins:

"Author Nancy French was steering her three children down Books-A-Million’s military history aisle last week when she saw something that made her freeze.

There, on a shelf labeled “Sexuality...”

This wasn´t a front-and-center display. This was down an aisle. The section seems clearly labelled to me. Whether it was near the front doesn´seem relevant - it was still down an aisle.

My kids are 3 and 7. If they had seen those covers, they would have asked me why the people were naked. And I´d have told them those were books for grown-ups. My eldest would have made a face, told me she doesn´t want to see naked ladies on books, and we would have moved on.

I, for one, am not interested in having my kids grow up ashamed of their bodies, their feelings, or any other normal part of life. No, I´m not going to have my youngsters hang out in the Sexuality section to look at the pictures. They aren´t ready for (or interested in) that. But if they ask what it is, I´ll tell them, and tell them it is for big people, not for them. But I won´t pretend I find the whole thing shameful or embarassing, because I don´t believe that.

Colin Smith said...

Gary Corby: Justin Bieber published a memoir, didn't he? And he's only just 18! :)

BP said...

Yikes! haha I don't think the issue here, as many commenters are decrying, is "protecting" the innocence of children or making them ashamed of their bodies. I'm on the Team of Thought that you can be proud of your body, appropriately well-aware of sexual topics, under the age of 15, and you still don't have to be a victim of slut propaganda. The message in these books, I'm certain, is NOT "be proud and aware of your body" or "sex is a good thing"...probably more along the lines of ways to destroy your life, body and future at a young age. Also, seriously, I hope that most of the people going to a bookstore are not of that clientele! Hahaha

Jeannie Miernik said...

While I understand your feelings very much as the mom of a little girl, I'm not as concerned about sexuality books marketed toward adults that aren't completely hidden from children in stores. What I'm more concerned about is sexual imagery and content that is marketed AT children. I can't help my kid seeing the Victoria's Secret storefront if we go to the mall or the cover of Cosmo in the grocery store aisle. I choose my battles with consumer culture!

Steven J. Wangsness said...

My comment is: someone wrote an entire book about THAT?

What's next, a 200-page guide to making grilled cheese sandwiches?

Sara said...

Steven J. Wangsness: Your comment made me laugh. Thanks for that!

Maja: Well said! I could not agree more. Having grown up in the US, but subsequently lived and traveled abroad, I'm always struck by the fact that US has such a Puritanical code of secrecy and shame...and also an incredibly high rate of violence and sexual crimes against women. Then you travel abroad and see all sorts of naked advertising...and, mysteriously, there are lower rates of violence against women.

I'm not an expert on this, but I do think that there's something about secrecy/shame that makes sexuality illicit and enables a culture of extreme dichotomy such as we have in the US. The truth is that we as a culture sexualize women in a degrading way and that has absolutely nothing to do with this book (except if the model is airbrushed as Megan Coakley points out).

I personally would have no issue just walking around it--with kids or without. There is something about relegating it "to the back" that feels like we're playing into that secrecy/shame stuff. It's 2012, time to focus on what the real problem is: the inappropriate sexualization of women instead of getting huffy over a pair of legs.

Christine Tyler said...

I just hope She-Ra there is careful with those heels.

Robin Ruinsky said...

Uh, well, Steven, I'm afraid I have some news for you:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=grilled+cheese&sprefix=Grilled+cheese%2Caps%2C140

Hope the link works. Lots of books about making grilled cheese.
None that I see that connect grilled cheese to great sex or orgasms, however.


And yes, the display shouldn't be at the front of the store. Kids can read.

Feaky Snucker said...

I am a woman. I grew up on a farm where we bred and broke horses. You see horses breeding, and you ask questions.

My parents were honest and open with me about what was happening. One time, my great uncle (bachelor hillbilly) and dad were going to go pull a calf, (help the cow deliver it). I was 3 years old and wanted to come along. My uncle said, "I think she's too young, she won't know what's going on."
My dad looked at me and asked, "Tamara, how did the calf get inside the cow?"
I responded, "The bull put it in her with his penis!"
My uncle said, "I think she knows too damn much already."

My parents never had to sit me down for "the sex talk" because I already knew what it was, and what it was for. I grew up thinking it was a part of life.

The thing about this article that I don't agree with, is that I wonder if she'd have been as upset if it had been a display for a violent video game, or a book about weapons and war.

It's more acceptable to watch violence than it is to watch sexual content, and why? Which is more natural to humans?

I get not wanting your children to be exposed to things you don't think they are ready for.

You'd think people would be happy that for once, while it is flashing an idealized image of a woman on the cover, the content isn't on 'How to please your man.' It's about how to please a woman... and I think THAT is a message we can all get behind:)

For real though, save your outrage for things that deserve it. War, famine, disease, the subjugation of women. Hate crimes against the LGBT community.

If your child is young enough, they will see a pair of legs, if they notice that at all. If they see you freaking out about it - they take their cues from you. If they are old enough to see it as something sexual, then you should have had "the talk" with them by this point, and they shouldn't think twice about it.

Are you afraid that something about the concept of sex will upset your child? Will a pair of legs, or a title scar them for life?

It sounds a bit overwrought to me.

Andrew said...

The shark has bitten many behinds for errors... Did you mean "honest talk with kids about sex"?

You wrote: I'm all for honest talk about sex with kids,

Yikes!

Dale Bishop said...

Looks like a lame attempt to save another brick and mortar bookstore from the doom. That's the kind of book people buy online, not at the bookstore. They put it on their e-reader and never tell anyone they are reading it.

Clearly, this manager knows nothing about discretion.

Kelly Barnes said...

I don’t think the issue here about salacious exploitation and the degradation of social morals. Nor do I think it has much to do with the sensibilities of a repressive society, but it wasn’t so very long ago…

We’re not as embarrassed by our sexuality as we used to be. We can talk about it, we can wear it like a badge, and we can openly seek it. Sex and sexuality are topics open to social intercourse. The shackles are broken and freedom tastes good.

That’s fine and I have zero problems with that. I have zero problems with the books. I have zero problems with the display, but placement is an issue.

I have a list of favorite bookstores. All of them have easily identifiable sections. I can see most of them from the front door.

The children’s section has a clubhouse facade, wooden toys, stuffed animals and always a wooden train set. It’s clearly segregated from the rest of the store and buffered by the MG and YA selections. An adult better have a good reason for entering.

History, Religion, Politics and current events are over here, there tables by the windows, a good place to finish a paper or meet with your study group. Fiction and poetry are over there in the section with the most rows of shelves, next to the self help and reference sections.

Ahh there it is. It’s on the other side of the store near the newspapers, magazines and other grownup material. It’s not hidden, you can see the sign: Sex and Sexuality. Just as open and inviting as every other area on the adult side of the store (pictures and all). The key though is that you don’t have to worry about turning a corner and having to explain something to a child who isn’t emotionally equipped to reconcile the images with the realities.

Nurture is tricky enough, so it’s easy for me to understand why parents want to maintain a certain level of control over when and how their children learn about sex.

There is nothing puritanical about discretion.

Janet Reid said...

Andrew, thanks. Yes, that was a very badly written phrase. Fixed now. Argh!

Christine Sarmel said...

This woman protested, but how many other people simply walked away and won't come back?

Bookstores need ALL of their customers. Annoying even a small percentage isn't a smart business practice.

Jon Hanna said...

"Other branches of this chainstore have sexuality sections and they're close to self-help not the front of the store."

According to that article, they weren't at the front of the store.

Annette Lyon said...

Yup. I'm with you, and not for some Puritanical reason.

Mystery Robin said...

Thank you - I have three children and love to spend time in a bookstore. I don't need my 11 year old girl looking at this and feeling like it's something she needs to learn.

Charlie Holmberg said...

Oh wow. That is certainly a cover that will... catch your eye.

I agree 100%.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Just for clarification, my daughter is almost 12, and she's not ashamed of nudity or sexuality. She's had a private tour of the Kinsey Institute's art gallery, and found it interesting, not shameful.

I agree that the U.S. population is largely prudish about these things, and it really ticks me off when we obsess as a nation over something as silly as Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. Still, nudity and sex manuals are two different things. If anything in the Victoria's Secret window makes you blush, I suggest avoiding beaches and swimming pools, too.

That said, I have seen more blatant headlines on the magazine rack at the checkout stand. If the rack of books in the photo was indeed down an aisle and not on a display table, then I have less to complain about here. It's not about "hiding away the dirty things," as much as it is that toddlers don't have any reason to understand what a oral sex is, or why their daddy might be doing it wrong.

Even still, my sister was concerned when she thought my daughter followed her twitter feed. It's one thing to be open about sexuality and the human body, and another thing entirely to obsess over it, to the degree a twitter feed called "My Sex Professor" does, or to the degree an entire section of books in a store would. Just because she understands what sex is, or that the human body is a perfectly natural thing, doesn't mean she needs to know about being satisfied sexually.

And I finally got a "not a robot" word that's appropriate: assfunde. Yes. This thread is an assfunde. :)

Aimee L. Salter said...

The thing I find most encouraging about your post isn't that you agree with my view on the 'discretion' of this kind of advertising - but that you were willing to consider the woman's point of view quite aside from her religious beliefs.

THAT's the kind of debate and conversation that needs to happen in the publishing industry (and everywhere else). Let's stop deriding people because of their personal choices, and start just debating the issue on its merits.

All that to say... I agree! I still do a lot of my book shopping in store and often have my son with me. I couldn't pass something like that without getting questions. I'm very open with him about sexuality, etc. But really? In a bookstore? No thanks.

Marsha Sigman said...

My teen doesn't really want to be seen with me at this point...and my youngest can't read so...where can I buy these books again?

Debra Lynn Lazar said...

Hmm, Father's Day is coming up and I'm all about giving books as gifts...

momco3 said...

Amen.

j. a. kazimer said...

I don't see anything wrong with the display. Sure it's not in the best of taste. But if bookstores start servicing everyone's opinion we will have many, many more banned books. Heck, Fifty Shades would be burning over an open fire right now.

If this woman didn't like the display, then her right is to not shop there.

But also think of the romance displays, which can be even more alluring. Should those be outlawed?

Where is the line, what I choose? What my neighbor finds offensive, what a pastor finds upsetting? Where?

Vicki Orians said...

I agree! It'd be nice for bookstores to move those sections out of the direct line of sight so that parents don't have to have the "birds and the bees" talk before it's necessary!

Dracula said...

j. a. kazimer - You raise a really important point, but tastefulness is not book burning. Not by a long shot. The comparison reeks of a straw man argument.

No, the main issue here is courtesy. Most bookstores -- actually, every bookstore I've ever visited -- have the courtesy to place the more "questionable" titles toward the back of the building where they would be difficult for a kid to reach. The books are still there. They are still on display. In some cases, they are still quite visible, if you're looking for them. But putting them out of the reach of young kids and harried parents is simply a matter of respecting parents' rights...not to mention the rights of the kids, something our society often overlooks.

Judith Gonda said...

How I love this group! All of you raise good points both pro and con.

Having two grown daughters I totally understand how those of you with young kids feel. I also agree that many of us see bookstores as a refuge from the crass aspects of our culture.

Yet it is only a display. TV and films are loaded with sexploitation and kids are exposed to that stuff for extended periods.

Honestly, I think if I had young kids today I would be more freaked out over online social networking sites than an ad in a bookstore.

The ad lacks class but I honestly don't think it would be damaging to kids. If I found it offensive I'd probably not frequent that store again any time soon.

Sara Tribble said...

I especially love the fact I can see the "Kids" section in the background!

I agree, way too close and think moving it to a more subtle area would be better. I mean, come on, the kids section is literally right there!

Tammy Nischan said...

I Googled your name when I saw you listed as an agent who will be taking part in a writer's conference in Lexington, Ky, in June. I wanted to know a little more about you and the style of writing you prefer. When I clicked on your site, I thought, "Oh no, she's "that" kind of agent!" I laughed as I read the blog post that accompanied the photograph! So thankful I chose to read and not just react! I agree totally with your thoughts, by the way! If I happen to attend the conference in June, I hope I have the pleasure of meeting you!

Tammy Nischan
www.tammynischan.blogspot.com

PS I also loved your kind words about Tim Gunn. Thank you!

Ann Landsberger said...

What I find annoying is that *this* (and I assume it's because of the success of Fifty Shades of Gray) is what mass marketing now assumes we all want. One soft erotica book goes gold and they move 1001 Ways to Get Off to its own table. The display indicates that *this* is a bona fide trend. We have no one to thank except the millions of people who bought and downloaded and read and wrote glowing reviews of FSoG.
It's on every agent's blog --- "marketable, salable". Well, there you go. It sold and now they are marketing it. Just like the twelve shelves of Twilight wannabes publishers rushed to print in the months/years following it's initial success, now we have *this* and what I'm sure will be its redundant copycat serials.
Sell, sell, sell. That's the name of the game. I always held out a glimmer of hope that it was actual quality that (in the end) really mattered. That publishers are looking for perfect polished stories may be true in theory, but in practice I see a lot more crap hit the stands than otherwise. Not that they aren't buying and selling it, they just aren't marketing it the same way.

www.roughwighting.net said...

I agree with you post - it's too much, it's not needed out there in front, and yes, I do believe in protecting our children from sex and violence. Thank you for bringing up a controversial subject, but really, isn't it sad that this is even controversial? Put the purient stuff in the back where those looking for sex/violence, etc. can find it, and leave it away from the rest of us!

Kay Camden said...

It's not just the cover with the legs, people. Go to Google Images or Amazon and look up the smaller book in the middle (365 Sex Positions). Now tell me you think this is okay to display somewhere children could see.

There's a time and place. Ya know?
Are we going to start going at it on the streets? How can we teach children this is something special between two people who love each other when it's propped up on a bookstore display for all to see?

If my four-year-old saw this in a bookstore, he would definitely notice it, definitely ask about it, and I'd have to say, "That's something private, and shame on this store for putting it there." Then we'd leave. And I'd go home and shop on Amazon. That's also a shame.

All this focus on shock advertising, instant gratification, how-far-can-you-take-it... well our society is just getting cheap.

Mels said...

I agree with you, thank you so much! ^,^

The Writer Librarian said...

As a librarian, I agree completely with your analysis--most librarians like to "err on the side of free access" and "discourage censorship" but some of them take it too far--and put together policy preventing library workers from telling the skeezy guy at the community computers to stop looking at porn--because the content he's looking at is "information". It's borderline ridiculous, and it makes it harder for people to take librarians seriously.

MLMonty said...

I'd rather not have my 8yr old seeing that stuff when we walk into a bookstore. It is really so difficult to keep it in the appropriate section of the store where I can prevent my CHILD from seeing it?

Unfortunately for the store I'd be VERY likely to ask LOUDLY for the manager, if my child pointed it out. Then ask as if they wanted to explain the display to said child in front of an audience.

I absolutely agree with Kay Camden's comment about our society becoming cheap.

Even books marketed for young adults are filled with smut. What happened to the good old days when books had PLOT and weren't PWPs? Surely I'm not the ONLY author out there with standards?

Peter DeHaan said...

We need to protect our kids from such things -- and I don't want to be subjected to it either!

Nancy Kelley said...

Thank you, Janet. It's only common sense to put books that are relatively family friendly on display right where the kids will walk by, and the more adult literature back where kids rarely tread. This is not about censorship; it's about keeping kids as innocent as possible for as long as possible.

nosoupforus said...

I'm pretty laid back about this stuff, but I would be upset if that book were in a main section of the bookstore. My kid is eight; he's been reading just about every title or sign or cereal box he comes across since he was five. The legs don't bother me a bit, but I don't need to be on a mission for the next Percy Jackson book and get ambushed with a "What's oral sex?" question. What if I haven't had my coffee yet and I end up ANSWERING him? Bookstores should be family friendly, and family friendly means young reader-friendly.

Katherine Traylor said...

I agree with Sara and Maja. I think one of our culture's big weak points is our tendency to make sex into something illicit and dirty. If you shove something into the back of the store and try to shame people for looking at it, you aren't going to stop them from looking at it. You're just going to give them a complex. The US attitude towards sex is extremely unhealthy in general-- a kind of self-destructive guilt-spiral of shame and titillation. I think parents would do better to protect their children from that than to try and keep them from finding out about sex, which is inevitably going to be a losing battle.

These book covers are not pornographic. There are no breasts or genitals; there is no profane language. If your child is old enough to read the words "oral sex," then your child is going to be asking about sex soon, anyway. Rather than say "Oh my goodness, don't look at that FILTH!" why not just sit them down later for a calm, thorough talk about the birds and the bees?

Or are you scared to?

nosoupforus said...

I think the point is that parents don't like public displays exposing kids to ideas they aren't ready for. When my eight-year-old asks about sex, I answer him honestly, but I try to let his questions lead the discussion, so that it's tailored to his level of development. He gets a little more thorough answer now than he got when he was six, because he's ready and he wants to know. I like to let him come to these things out of natural curiosity, not because a bookstore display brings up something that's really out of his developmental realm.

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Since there are 60 comments already, I'm not going to read through them all before sharing my opinion.

I have been to adult stores that have entire bookshelves dedicated to these types of books, and that is where I would expect to find them, should I go looking. I would never think to look in my local bookstore. It just wouldn't even occur to me.

That's not to say that they shouldn't be there, but I just wouldn't think to look there.

As far as having this type of book(s) prominently displayed in an area that my impressionable daughter could easily *accidentally* walk through? Completely unacceptable.

The LAST thing I want to do is explain oral sex to my 8 year old before we've even had "the talk."

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

And I'm sorry, I must add that I STRONGLY disagree with Katherine.

My daughter has been reading for a very long time, and would easily be able to read the titles of these books.

That does not IN ANY WAY shape or form mean that she is ready to understand the meaning behind the words. Her reading level DOES NOT equal her maturity level. So the fact that she can read the words does NOT mean she is ready for 'the talk' - especially the oral sex aspect of 'the talk.'

Every child is different. Please do not assume that an ability to read = maturity.

Wendy said...

As long as people don't go crazy the other way.

I live in a very conservative, rural area and the nearest bookstore is 40 miles away. I was there looking for an age-appropriate sex-ed book for my kids and the bookstore lady said they didn't have any because there was a local preacher who would come in and do a "search and destroy" mission on anything he considered "inappropriate" and the church would put pressure on the store to remove it.

Kitty said...

The display is unseemly. Period.

L. Legault said...

All right. I'm going to agree with the commenters who say, "why hide this from children?" but for a very different reason: I would prefer to hide it from everyone. This isn't a question of prudery but of the relentless pornification of society and the effect it has on our imaginations and sensibility. It coarsens us, and I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't diminish people's enjoyment of their sexuality in the long run. It's like the loosening of the taboos against eating between meals, snacking in general, and not eating in public except in places which were designed for that purpose: now we're all a good deal fatter, and yet we hardly notice what we shove into our mouths. Hasn't pornification had the same impact on our sexual habits and ideas? And yes, I'd say the same about violence in various media too: it coarsens people and makes them less aware of/alert to it. I don't suggest that artists give it all up, or we should use the law to force this material to go away. I am suggesting that we - bookstores, writers, movie makers, advertisers etc. - should learn to exercise discretion and discrimination in such matters again. And we, the public, ought to insist on it.

Incidentally, to two of the nay-sayers here, I'd like to point out that a) displays of nudity as such are not the same thing as displays of crudely explicit language and titillating hints at sexual imagery; and b) to watch farm animals copulate is to acquire a realistic, earthy understanding of sexuality that is quite remote from the kind of giggling smut, which somehow manages to be at once dirty and mealy-mouthed.