When I was a kid, I didn’t really have a reading comfort zone, at least in terms of genre. When it came to type, I definitely tended towards novels because anything shorter did not satisfy me and I, to some extent, did not recognize the existence of plays and books of poetry because I was just not seeing those in the young adult stacks when I went book hunting. However, as I got older and began to solidify my identity and beliefs, I became more picky about what I would and would not read. This occurrence is somewhat similar to self-censorship, but more in the way that I was focusing on the maintenance of my emotional well-being. Certain books, such as those dealing with child abuse and violence against women I will often avoid because I do not have the spoons to deal with it at the time. Very rarely, due to factors like stress, will I have the spoons to read a full novel that deals with those topics. However, since I feel that it is important to read about and recognize the reality of such things, I will read a short story or drabble, a story of 100 words or less, about those themes. Ergo, it can be argued either way whether or not I have a reading “comfort zone” in the traditional sense.
Turning to the issues raised in the article, I was really affected by the reasons behind some of the censorship. Particularly, I was impacted by the reaction to the topic of sexuality and sexual identity. The fact of the matter is that adolescents are having relationships that go beyond holding hands and passing notes. Not only that, but kids, in this sense, are facing many dilemmas that adults face. They are experiencing lust, love, partner abuse, manipulation, heartbreak, and everything else that relates to sexuality and sexual identity. However, many parents, adults in general really, do not want to admit that this is possible let alone happening in today’s society. It is detrimental to adolescent well-being that this occurs. To be fair, no parent wants to believe that their child is growing up and will soon leave the nest, but it is inevitable and so they must prepare their children for this reality.
Continuing along this vein, there is an issue with the censoring of material considered to be sexually explicit just because it discusses adolescent sexuality that extends beyond the cute and innocent, but for the most part this just pertains to straight kids. Let me explain what I mean. Straight young adults, through censorship, are being told that they cannot have adult relationships, but LGB+ young adults are often being told that they cannot have a relationship at all. For many people, LGB+ sexuality and sexual identity is only found to be acceptable when it is dealt with in the realm of the abstract. This is due to the fact that abstraction distances it from reality in a sense. The minute an LGB+ relationship is portrayed realistically or frankly, it is quickly censored. When this occurs, LGB+ youth are being hypersexualized and ostracized. In other words, they are being told that they can only have a relationship when they’re an adult, and even then it is still widely debated. This ties into what I did not know about banned/challenged books. I thought that more books would have been challenged for discussing homosexuality, but in truth more books were being challenged for sexually explicit content. However, my question then becomes, how many books were considered “sexually explicit” due to the hypersexualization of the LGB+ community?
Conclusively, I hope to have as many different books and literature on my shelves as possible as I believe that education must extend beyond the classroom and the curriculum and instead encompass all aspects of life and knowledge.