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#SVYALit Panel #3 Wrap Up: Brandy Colbert (POINTE), Courtney C. Stevens (FAKING NORMAL), Carrie Mesrobian (SEX & VIOLENCE) and Christa Desir (FAULT LINE)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liG2yXdrZSs?rel=0]


#SVAYLit Project Google+ Hangout on Air with the author Brandy Colbert (POINTE), Courtney C. Stevens (FAKING NORMAL), Carrie Mesrobian (SEX & VIOLENCE) and moderated by Christa Desir (FAULT LINE). This is our third discussion as part of the #SVYALit Project, with an emphasis on the topic of consent, an issue that plays a very meaningful role in both POINTE and FAKING NORMAL. Below are some of the highlights that I have pulled out of the above recording of this virtual panel. I highly recommend that you watch the entire 1 hour video because it was a really powerful, thoughtful discussion that covered on topics like consent, blaming the victim and how we can reframe that, how girls are often taught by culture that they can’t say no, and the importance of having a wide variety of stories to represent the wide variety of experiences and responses out there. We also touch several times on how important it is to have positive stories/examples to help counteract the negative because in order for teens developing their sexual identities to develop healthy sexual identities, they have to know what both positive and negative experiences look like. It’s not enough to tell ourselves that no means no, we need to have examples and discussions of what yes looks like as well.

INTRODUCTIONS:


POINTE: Came out in April. 17 year old ballet dancer named Theo. Her best friend returns after having been kidnapped 4 years ago. This return creates a spiral of emotion as Theo realizes the truth of a lot of situations in her life.

FAKING NORMAL: Alexie and Bodie are both dealing with tragic circumstances. Through their relationship Alexie begins to face the truth of some sexual trauma in her past.

DISCUSSION OF CONSENT (starts at 4:03)

Christa is a Rape Victim Advocate, which frames her perspective. When she presents at schools there is always a lot of confusion about what rape is and what it is isn’t. The legal definition includes a note about “Conscious Consent”. This is the ICASA (Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault) that Christa references: http://www.icasa.org/home.aspx?PageID=500&.


Courtney C. Stevens (6:27) – It seems confusing because there seems to be a lot of gray areas. These three things are important:
1. Being of sound mind in some kind of way.
2. Mutual desire
3. Expressed mutual desire

Brandy (7:04) – Discussion in particular of the older person/teen person and the power dynamics that can come into play here. Both people need to be able to talk about it. This is a huge part of Theo’s story in POINTE.

Carrie Mesrobian: (10:00) – Discussing age of consent laws. Teens have a perception of themselves as grown up, they don’t realize they need protection. “You don’t realize the danger you could be in.” “I didn’t know what I should be afraid of.”

Theo was so concerned about being perceived as grown up and the man really grooms her very well, tapping into this need/desire. (11:25)

LOOKING THROUGH THE LENS OF A SURVIVOR (11:30)

Things some survivors think:
“This is all I’m worth”
Every survivor has a unique experience, no one reacts the same. 

(12:30) – By not having an empowered voice you are not consenting.

Courtney:
The first thing women do is blame themselves. “I’m the one who didn’t say no.”

(13:00) IT”S ABOUT PEOPLE MAKING A CHOICE TO HURT SOMEONE. GO BACK TO THE RIGHT MOMENT AND ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION
You keep working things out over a period time. You go back to the moment and think, “I could have done something.” But the truth is, you are going back to the wrong moment. But what about that moment when that guy decided he was going to do this to you.”  We must continually shift it back to the wrong choice the person made to hurt someone, and it is a conscious choice.

(14:00) EXAMPLES OF OTHER WAYS WE ENGAGE IN VICTIM BLAMING
In domestic violence situations we tend to ask, why does she stay. What we should be asking is why does he abuse. (Or vice versa as the case may be.)

(16:00) EXAMINING ONE’S SEXUAL INVENTORY

Teens don’t always know why they are doing the things they are doing.  It’s kind of baked into our culture that we don’t talk about why we do the things we do when it comes to sex. We don’t have a good cultural vocabulary or discussion to discuss the core foundation of why and how we have sex, so then when things go wrong we don’t have the core foundation to talk about that either.

(18:00) HALF THE CONVERSATION IS UNDERSTANDING OURSELVES AS SEXUAL BEINGS
So many times we don’t take the time to think about who we are and what we are okay with – and not okay with. We don’t know how to express ourselves sexually because it is such a taboo subject. Teens are asking these questions inside but no one wants to help them find healthy, realistic answers.

(18:40) TALKING ABOUT A SCENE IN POINTE

Brandy: “It was really important for me for Theo to have a positive sexual experience.” Brandy wanted to show the difference between the earlier abusive situation and this positive experience. 

Karen’s thoughts: One of the great things about POINTE is how Theo begins to slowly realize the truth about her previous relationship. She doesn’t initially realize how much it had tainted her self-perception and what she felt like she was worth. The positive scene is a game changing moment that helps her clarify so many things.

(21:00) COURTNEY TALKS ABOUT PEOPLE BEING EASY TO MANIPULATE OR NOT

Teen: “How do I say No to alcohol?”
Courtney: “You’re going to need that word No for a lot of things. . . You get to say No to the things that you don’t want. People are born with a Yes in their pocket, they always say yes.”

Kissing scene in Faking Normal: A yes to this kiss was just as powerful as a yes to sex. She needed to be able to say Yes. Karen’s note: This is such am empowering scene.

But the truth is . . . Many people are taught not to say no, they are never empowered to say No. This can be more true for women. Carrie talks about this at 23:00. But girls who say no are taught they are being snotty or mean or called a “Bitch.” Being able to say No is “rinsed out of girls at an early age.”

(24:00) “Can I do this?” – asking this question instead of just assuming you can swoop in and do this.”

(25:00) MORE ABOUT CONSCIOUS CONSENT
What part does alcohol and drugs play a part? Alcohol and drugs can impact one’s ability to make good decisions consenting to sex.

(26:00) MORE DISCUSSION ABOUT BEING SOCIALIZED TO BE NICE WHEN SAYING NO
We feel like we have to add in a bunch of stuff to soften the blow when we say no, we don’t own our no. Teens needs to no that they have a right to say to all intimate encounters, even as Courtney mentions in kissing.

(28:00) WE”RE STARTING DIALOGUES ALL OVER THE PLACE

Courtney (29:00): Anytime there is victimology there is no such thing as canon work. Everyone’s experience is different, their reaction is different. Your story can be the story that they connect with. All books represent part of the spectrum of experience. Some people do add it as a plot device, and I’m not for that. But I think authentic experience matters to people. I want the opportunity to make a difference. “Every time a reader says this mattered to me, I’m becoming who I am supposed to be.”

Brandy (31:00): POINTE came in part because she thought about her experiences with older men when she was a teen and wondered, “what would happen if one of them pretended they were younger then they were”. You can tell the authenticity as opposed to when something is added for shock value or a plot device.

Christa (32:45): When people start talking about their history, so many people – men and women – can find situations when they were vulnerable. “Dodgy things have become normalized to us.” References Maureen Johnson blog post about the things that have happened to her (http://maureenjohnsonbooks.tumblr.com/post/79687199694/about-the-recent-events-concerning-youtube ). I also wrote a post about this (http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2012/12/what-its-like-for-girl-politics-of.html).
Every story is different in terms of what people have been exposed to and their level of vulnerability. These books speak to the shared history of a lot survivors.

Carrie (35:00): Talking to someone from Fluxx. “Do we still need coming out stories?” Yes, because that is always something that it going to be difficult for families to process and there are so many variables. People are starting to come out about their sexual abuse stories. We’ve been asked for so many years to not saying anything, to hold the shame of the culture of our shame inside of us. That does nothing good for women – women being a majority of the victims of sexual violence. We need a variety of stories because you never know what experience is going to reach out to someone. Some people will see themselves. We need more of that in YA. And we need more in general people wrestling with sex, what is good sex, because we can’t unpack what goes wrong about sex if we can’t talk about what goes right with sex.

Carrie (38:00): Tells the story of being with a boy who knew what he wanted and what an impression that made on her.

Christa (40:00): Tells a story about RT convention. There are a lot of people who will not take a book that has sex in it.

Brandy (41:00): Talking about sex in YA. As a teen, most of us read a lot of Danielle Steel, which of course has a lot of sex in them. When people are uncomfortable with the content of a book they tend to put it down. We need literature that tackles these subjects because we don’t always know what people around us are going through.

Courtney (43:00): The reality is that kids can just put down a YA book and go to the adult shelf and buy an adult book. But the other side is that parents care about their kids. We want responsible, but we also want responsible kids. 

Christa (45:00): I absolutely think parents can and should censor things for their kids, but not for my kids. I always start with, let’s have a conversation about this book.

Carrie (46:00): Everyone has sex and violence inside them. Reading helps us navigate that.

Karen (48:00): Here I discuss watching the show The Big Bang Theory with my pre-teen daughter. Whenever it became obvious that sex was going to come up, I would quickly change the channel. This made her have some confusing notion of what sex was – she thought kissing was sex – and she sensed my unease about the topic of sex and started to feel like it was a shameful topic. So I sat down and had a conversation with her where I told her that kissing is not sex, and there is nothing wrong or bad about sex, it just wasn’t something that kids really needed to be concerned with because they needed to be doing kid things. This made me realize how it important it was for kids and teens to have accurate information free of stigma and shame. We can’t ask teens to make informed choices about sex if they don’t fully understand what sex is and it isn’t. And we can’t expect them to develop into healthy sexual beings if we are constantly putting so much shame on the topic. You can talk to teens in informative ways about sex and that does not mean that they will decide to have sex. For example, most of us believe in educating our kids about drugs so they are not caught unawares, it seems like we should be doing the same about all important life issues, including sex.

Christa (49:00): When we build a culture of shame around sex we also are building a culture of shame where survivors can’t come forward. All the silence can be unhealthy. Sometimes in trying to protect our kids, we are making them easier to not be protect-able. I would rather have it in books where we can have a dialogue about it and present clear moments of consent so that they can understand what that looks like.

Courtney (53:00): The girl came to me and I just knew that girl has a story and I need to know what that story is. Teenagers need mentors and they need adults, they need people who believe in them and will genuinely listen to them.

Brandy (55:00): Discusses CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers. This is when she realized you can cover difficult subjects in YA books.

56:00 EVERYONE SHARES THEIR FAVORITE YA CONSENT SCENES

Christa: The Play Me scene in IF I STAY by Gayle Forman. Everything gorgeous, everything we would all want in our first time scene. Beautifully done. Sexy but not gross. You can also see Christa’s previous list here: http://christaramblesandwrites.blogspot.com/2014/03/consent-and-sensitivity-good-sex-in-ya.html

Carrie: Everty time you see a good sex scene with good consent, put something up on your Tumblr. If it is real and there is good consent, honor that by giving it some love online. You can also see Carrie’s previous list here: http://carriemesrobian.com/2014/03/sexconsent-positive-ya-books-the-svyalit-project/

1) FREE FALL by Mindi Scott – told from a boy’s point of view; funny and vulnerable and real and there is information there about the steps involved

2) NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Siobhan Vivian – demonstrates negotiation

Brandy: USES FOR BOY by Erica Lorraine Scheidt – I was completely blown away; it was so moving, what the character needed.

Courtney C. Stevens:

1) THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green – really, really sweet. Didn’t expect the book to go there.

2) FIRE by Kristen Cashore – very realistic, very beautiful

3) IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

Karen:

1) INFINITY GLASS by Myra McEntire – “So do I have a green light?”

2) PLUS ONE by Elizabeth Fama – he checks in half way through like

3) THIS SIDE OF SALVATION by Jeri Smith-Ready

You can also see Karen’s previous list here: http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2014/03/take-5-sexconsent-positive-books.html

Karen’s Final Note About the Power Dynamics of the Age of Consent:
Several times the discussion of power dynamics in a relationship came up, which are important parts of both POINTE and FAKING NORMAL. And these get into the idea of the age of consent. This topic actually came up recently in a conversation I had with my Tween daughter. I was talking to her about power issues in relationships. I don’t know how it came up, but she asks a lot of questions lately, which is obviously age appropriate and not surprising. But I started to tell her this story about how when I was a Sophomore in high school I started dating a young man in College. He was definitely breaking age of consent laws. One night we had plans to go play miniature golf. I got in his car and he drove right past the golf place to his apartment. Wanting to think the best, I went to his apartment with him. Luckily, as things started to progress he stopped when I told him to. But the truth is, in the moment I was incredibly vulnerable. No one knew where I was. He had all the power; he was physically stronger, older and more experienced, and if he had really wanted to he could have already had a weapon or drugs or some such ready. Thankfully, he was not that guy. But he could have been. I thought not just about power, but about situational differences between teens and adults. It’s one thing when you are a 15 year old dating a 15 year old and you are both trying to find some place to make out and there just really aren’t any and your both fumbling around trying to figure out how to even kiss or whatever. It’s much different when all the sudden you are with an adult who has their own private space – an apartment or a house – and now there is a whole different dynamic going on. That adult doesn’t have to worry about a sibling or parent walking in on you in the car or basement. It’s seems like already the rules are different because the situational dynamics are different, if that makes sense.  

Talking with Teens About Consent
Sexual Assault Awareness Month, talking to teens about consent and rape part 1 and part 2
This is What Consent Looks Like
The Curios Case of the Kissing Doctor and Consent 

The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Kids Consent, Ages 1-21 (the Good Men Project)
Why Talking with Teens About the Age of Consent Matters
On Teachable Moments and Consent 

Recaps and Video of the First 2 Discussion Panels:
Recap and Video of the first panel discussing Faultline, Sex & Violence and Where the Stars Still Shine

Recap and Video of the second panel discussing Charm & Strange, Canary, and The Gospel of Winter  

See Complete Project Outline and Details Here

Consent and Teenage Vulnerability, a look at POINTE (Brandy Colbert) by author Christa Desir


When I was twelve years old, a friend of my mom’s became interested in me. Very young brides were pretty common in his country of origin and while he understood they weren’t common in the US, he started a strange sort of courtship with me. My parents had been divorced for a few years and while my sister was more frequently back and forth between my mom and dad’s house, I spent most of my time with my mom because she needed me more. As a result, I spent quite a bit of time with my mom’s friend.

From the outside, this man was amazing. Smart, handsome, very well-spoken, kind. He spoke to me like an adult and was seemingly excited by all my ideas and stories and thoughts about the world. He asked me endless questions and marveled at my clever answers. He brought me presents and said lovely things about me in this way that a father would dote on a treasured daughter.
I had no idea what was happening until my mom said something to me about it. “You need to be careful with D. He’d like to keep you.” Whether he had said this to her outright or if she could tell from how he interacted with me, I’m still not sure. But I know exactly how I felt when she said it to me, at that moment on the cusp of young adulthood: I wanted to be “kept”.
The reasons for this desire to be kept are deeply rooted in personal history that is too complicated to go into, but I do think that for vulnerable children (and frankly, what girl isn’t vulnerable during her tweens for one reason or another) this notion of being wanted, being craved is important to understand when looking into sexual coercion, power dynamics, and age disparity between partners.
(Spoilers for POINTE ahead)
Brandy Colbert’s absolutely excellent POINTE takes the issue of “consent” and dissects it to a deep and critical look at both power and age disparity in sexual relationships. What struck me so much with this book is the unflinching way in which Theo, the protagonist, holds on to the notion that she wanted to be in this relationship with an older guy, that she loved him, that he made her feel ALL the things as a young woman on the cusp of adulthood.
Only she wasn’t on the cusp of adulthood. She was thirteen. Thirteen to his eighteen (which later is revealed to be twenty-six). And he made her feel special and craved and wanted and really, from an older guy who you admire, it’s a gift. Because when you’re thirteen and pimply and awkward and nothing on your body feels right and you’ve been inundated with messages about the importance of boyfriends and being sexy, it means something when someone picks you. When someone desires you. When someone thinks you’re so spectacular that they’re willing to break rules for you. And all you have to do to keep this feeling going is break a few rules for them.
And it’s that head space that is captured so beautifully in POINTE. What makes a girl make this “choice” and what is the fall-out from the choice. Theo’s fall-out is indeed difficult to watch, particularly her inability to value herself enough to ask for more from Hosea. She accepts that this is what she’s worth, that all she deserves is furtive sex with a boy who already has a girlfriend, and it is heartbreaking to read. But so important to add to the conversation about sexual violence in YA literature.
Similar to THE GOSPEL OF WINTER, POINTE poses difficult questions about culpability, consent, love, and demonstrates the delicate nature of blind trust and how it can be manipulated by perpetrators to leave victims in a place of shame. Over and over Theo rationalizes her relationship with Chris/Trent and this is important to the dialogue about victim-blaming. Because often perpetrators are able to perpetuate silence in their victims by planting seeds of self-doubt and blame. The majority of sexual violence survivors I’ve spoken with over the years have all had at least one moment where they felt responsible for what happened to them. When it comes to victim-blaming, victims themselves are frequently the first people in line to say, “well, I did do XXX so…”
And perhaps the most important take-away from POINTE is our ability to discern that Theo was not at fault. That she had been used. That her thirteen-year-old vulnerability had been twisted into something terrible. That her feeling loved and wanted did not change the fact that what Chris/Trent did was rape. And that a good deal of sexual violence is perpetrated not through overt physical violence, but through coercion and manipulation, plucking at the very core of adolescent vulnerability.

POINTE releases on Thursday, April 10th from Penguin. ISBN: 9780399160349

Christa Desir is the author of Fault Line and the upcoming Bleed Like Me. She is also one of the co-moderators of the #SVYALit Project. She lives outside of Chicago with her awesome husband, Julio, and their three children. When she’s not writing, she is an editor of romance novels. Christa is also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. Visit her at www.christadesir.com.

Sunday Reflections: Why Talking About the Age of Consent Matters

I didn’t have to even stop and think about it that day.  I was sitting on the Reference Desk when a woman came in and said she was concerned because she had seen what she thought was a pretty young girl kissing a grown man outside the library. I walked over and saw them walking away through the window, and I knew who they both were. The girl was no older than 14 and the man was most definitely a grown up. So I turned around, picked up the phone and called the police. I told them that a patron had said they were kissing and that the left together. The police came immediately and took our statements. It was determined that a crime was in progress and the police got the man’s name and tracked them down.  I called for one reason and one reason only, if I read in the paper the next day that that girl was found raped and murdered I knew 100% that I would have been in a position to stop it and I didn’t. So I did.  I didn’t know for sure what was happening, but I knew enough to be scared and called the police and let them deal with it.  They did come back and tell us that they were found together and the man was arrested. I know nothing beyond that.

But here’s the thing: She was 14-years old and he was an adult. Not kind of an adult, but a man in his 20s adult.

I remember being 14. I remember having feelings I didn’t quite know yet what to do with them. I remember thinking my Latin teacher was cute. I remember thinking that various movie and music stars were “hot”. I remember wondering and questioning and trying to figure out in my head what it all meant. But the difference was that there was not a grown up in my life using my confusion and naivete to his advantage. And that’s why the age of consent matters.

I just finished reading POINTE by Brandy Colbert and this book is an excellent example of what is known as grooming.  Grooming is “the process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy. The shrouding of the relationship is an essential feature of grooming” (Source: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Child-Sexual-Abuse-6-Stages-of-Grooming).

According to Dr. Michael Welner, there are 6 stages of grooming:

1. Targeting
2. Gaining trust
3. Filling a need
4. Isolating the child
5. Sexualizing the relationship
6. Maintaining control

These are expanded on here: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Child-Sexual-Abuse-6-Stages-of-Grooming. But like sharks, these men (and yes, sometimes women) are predators looking for easy prey.

In Pointe, Theo is an amazing, dedicated ballet dancer. When we meet her, she is 17.  Her best friend Donovan has been missing for 4 years and then he suddenly returns. Except he’s not talking about what happened. But when Theo sees a picture of who he has been with the past 4 years, she’s not sure what to believe.  Soon she will be called to testified, and she is trying to figure out what the truth is and what she should say up there on the stand.

Grooming. It sounds so textbook . . . It’s hard for me to think of him as a perdator . . .” – Pointe, by Brandy Colbert (p. 127)

She is confused, and this is expertly depicted.  And in all of this, someone actually uses the word grooming. In fact, this book, in flashbacks, does a great job of helping readers understand what grooming is and the complex and conflicting emotions that it can cause. The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely also does a great job of this. I highly recommend both of these titles. And I think it is important that we talk to teens about grooming in the same way that we need to talk to them about understanding commercials and how they are designed to sell a product. Information is power, and giving teens the information to see what may be happening is so very important to help stop it.

But what it also does is remind us all why the age of consent matters. It doesn’t matter if it looks on the outside if a child or young teen is consenting, because we have to understand that there are powerful dynamics at work here.  Dynamics that include an imbalance of power. Dynamics that include manipulation and isolation. Dynamics that play on the naivete and inexperience of these young people.

That is why we can’t have articles written that suggest that Chris Brown was quite the stud back when he was 8 and had sex with his babysitter. No, his babysitter raped him. This has been written about multiple times, include here. Part of the reason this narrative plays out is because we view male and female sexuality very differently. Teenage guys who get action are studs while the girls are sluts. But part of this is also because we still don’t acknowledge the extent of male rape, which does happen and it is just as horrific as when it happens to a female.

But part of it is also because we get all confused about the issue of underage consent. Consent isn’t just about age, it is also about the difference in age, which is why many state laws have the age of consent at 16 and there can not be a more than 3 year age difference. Because as that age gap widens, so does ones knowledge, experience and the power imbalance, making younger teens much easier to manipulate or deceive.  I remember being 16 and thinking I was so close to an adult, but 25 year old Karen realized in hindsight that 16 year old Karen really didn’t know squat.

When I was 15, I dated a boy who was “in a band”. Briefly. He was an adult, in college. And I mentioned that he was “in a band”, right? One night we went to go play miniature golf but he drove right past the course and took me to his an apartment.  He gave me this hand stitched pillow, which he said he made for me.  I knew there was no way he had made that pillow for me. None. So I asked him to take me home and I was lucky because he did. But a younger Karen would have been flattered, craving that attention. There are so many ways that day could have gone differently for me. And for many teens, it does.

Recently I was working with a teen volunteer who thought I was the “cool librarian”. So she told me she was grounded because she had been spending time with a 24-year-old man and her parents didn’t want him near her. She was 14. She assured me they were just friends and asked if she was my daughter would I let them be friends. This is what I said: “I can think of no good reason for a 24-year-old man to start up a friendship with a 14-year-old girl out of the blue. If this happened with my daughter, I would take away her phone, monitor her e-mail, and do everything I could to keep her safe. I can’t speak for your parents, but I think that any parent who saw this happening with their child would be rightfully suspicious and cautious.”

I could see it in her eyes, the way she was flattered by the attention of this older, cooler man. Because that too is the imbalance of power.  As Emily so eloquently states: “They were grooming me, but to that chubby, attention-starved teenage girl, their attentions felt a lot like love.” (Read the entire post The Myth of the Teenage Temptress, or Why a Young Girl Can Not Consent to Sex with an Adult Man)

Mama Bear has a good post for parents on protecting your children from pedophiles

Sexual Violence in YA Lit, the project

It began with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson many years ago. This book really touched me, as it has readers around the world.  And it made me start thinking a lot about how we can use literature to talk with teens about really tough topics; about things like recognizing the signs so that you can ask for help, about the need for empathy, about the ways in which our society tends to blame victims instead of rapists . . . Books can open eyes, bring healing, and start conversations.

Throughout my years working with teens, I have met many tweens and teens that have been the victims of sexual violence.  In fact, current statistics indicate that by the time they are 18 years old 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be the victim of some type of sexual violence.

So I knew I wanted to do more.  For the last 3 years I have been working behind the scenes trying to find a way to get this project off of the ground.  Then I had a brainstorm and invited authors Christa Desir, Carrie Mesrobian and Trish Doller to have a virtual panel on the topic and they graciously agreed.  We had an awesome conversation and got such a positive response that we decided to continue the project. Here are the details. Keep this page bookmarked.

Goals: To discuss sexual violence in the lives of teens and in ya literature on a bimonthly basis; raise awareness of the issues and titles that can be used to discuss the topics with teens; give librarians, educators and parents the tools to evaluate and discuss these topics in the lives of teens; promote teen reading and literature

Schedule:

All virtual panels will be Google Hangouts on Air at Noon Eastern time.  We will post URLs to watch as we get closer to each date.  Afterwards we will post the video recordings and write recaps.  Everything will be linked back to here for your convenience.  We recommend that you read the books each month if you can, but we will be discussing the issues and additional titles as well.  Here’s a more detailed look at the titles.

Contemporary Debuts, dealing with sexual violence

Date: March 26th
Moderator: Carrie Mesrobian
Confirmed Guests: Stephanie Kuehn (CHARM AND STRANGE), Rachele Alpine (CANARY), and Brendan Kiely (THE GOSPEL OF WINTER)
Recap and Video of the second panel discussing Charm & Strange, Canary, and The Gospel of Winter

Consent Positive YA Lit: Looking at positive depictions of healthy relationships and consent in YA literature
Date: May 21st
Moderator(s): Christa Desir, Carrie Mesrobian, Karen Jensen
Confirmed: Courtney Stevens (FAKING NORMAL), Brandy Colbert (POINTE)
Recap and Video of the third panel discussing Pointe and Faking Normal  

When Past Meets Present, a look at the issues in terms of historical fiction and what we can learn from the past

Date: July 30th
Moderator: Christa Desir
Confirmed: Jenn McGowan (MAID OF SECRETS/MAID OF DECEPTION, Katherine Longshore (GILT), Sharon Biggs Waller (A MAD, WICKED FOLLY)

 
It’s the End of the World as We Know It, what we can learn about current issues surrounding sexual violence through dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction

Date:September 24th
Confirmed: Mindy McGinnis (NOT A DROP TO DRINK), Ilsa J. Bick (ASHES), and Elizabeth Fama (PLUS ONE)

Bringing it Back to Contemporary Fiction: An overview of 2014 titles and a look ahead at 2015
Date: November 19th

Confirmed Guests: A. S. King (forthcoming 2014 and 2015 title), Christa Desir, Carrie Mesrobian

Hashtag: #SVYALit

SVYALit Tumblr

More on Sexual Violence and YA Lit at TLT:

What It’s Like for a Girl: How Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama made me think about the politics of sexuality in the life of girls

Sexual Assault Awareness Month, talking to teens about consent and rape part 1 and part 2

Should there be sex in YA books? 

Plan B: What Youth Advocates Need to Know 

Because No Always Mean No, a list of books dealing with sexual assault

Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in YA Lit.  A look at consent and respecting boundaries in relationships outside of just sex. 

Incest, the last taboo 

This is What Consent Looks Like

Street Harassment

That Time Matt Smith Perpetuated Street Harassment Culture at Comic Con

An Anonymous Letter to Those Who Would Ban Eleanor and Park

Take 5: Difficult books on an important topic (sexual violence) 
  
The Curios Case of the Kissing Doctor and Consent 

Book Review: The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely

Take 5: Sexual Violence in the Life of Boys

A BIG list of titles on the TLT Tumblr