March 16, 2011

This isn't a joke...authubillah :-(

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I've spoken about our small town before. Hudson, Mass. It's a quaint, picturesque, fairly typical little New England town. In the year I've lived here I've come to like the vibe here; small town attitude but more diverse (due to proximity to Boston and we have alot of high tech companies here... think Intel, HP, etc...)

We have a beautiful little library that has alot of programs, especially for their size. I just signed up for a new service called "wowbrary" which is available for many public libraries. It lets you know what media is new. OK great. I woke up early (with the same headache I just can't seem to shake for the past 2 weeks) and saw I had my first wowbrary email in my box.

A few new movies, some light fiction, couple of better books... then I saw the above cover. Um yeah. A book on animal husbandry taken to a new level? Nope, a book on teen sex. And we're not talking teen sex as in the grainy film most of us in the US were shown in 4th grade like "You and Your Body" where a girl keeps a journal talking about her "Aunt Flo" (a term I vehemently abhor!!!! lol) or her friend "Dot" instead of just saying her period.

Nope, this is full-on nothing but sex. Not just straight sex either, explaining the difference between say the vaginal opening and a urethra. Here is a lil excerpt for ya'll who might be thinking, Oh Umm A, you're kinda sensitive about this:

"Thinking about having sex? Or just thinking about sex? Well, there's a lot to think about. And if you're a teen, you should get educated before you get busy so that you can make healthy, informed decisions. Written by the host of the popular online Midwest Teen Sex Show, this honest, funny, and in-depth read features chapters on all things sex, from sexual orientation and masturbation, to foreplay, first-time concerns, birth control, and protection against diseases. It also provides answers to questions posed by real teens on things you definitely want to know but might be afraid to ask."

That was the description given by the library website. Below is the description I found by clicking on the "more info" button which sent me to Hmmmmmm. A bit different.

"The cover image of one cow mounting another in silhouette is the first signal that this excellent resource takes a frank, funny approach to sex education. Hasler, a columnist who answers teens’ questions in her own “webisodes” and on the school speaking circuit, is more colloquial than clinical as she delivers a wealth of accurate information. Readers will find basic facts about anatomy, hygiene, and birth control (“Toothpaste is not a spermicide”), but they’ll also discover straightforward coverage of more typically taboo subjects, such as sex toys, fantasies, and fetishes. From definitions of GLBT terms to guides to safe sex, regardless of teens’ sexual orientation, the book’s inclusiveness is rare and welcome. Never judgmental (one section is entitled “Shame, Guilt, and Other Nonsense”), Hasler encourages teens to take ownership of their bodies, make informed decisions, and get help when necessary, especially if they think they have an STD: “Don’t sit around . . . writing e-mails to online health forums.” Lighthearted cartoons and well-chosen resources complete this indispensable guide for teens seeking reliable, explicit facts about healthy sex. Grades 10-12. --Gillian Engberg"

Call me what you will, a book-burning Nazi, an opponent for freedom of speech, I DON'T CARE. No teenager needs to know about sex toys, fantasies and fetishes. This is a sickness, a disease, and I am appalled and sickened that this book was ever written. As I said, I wouldn't have been a fan of the book just from reading the first review, thinking it was too explicit and probably written very tongue-in-cheek when in fact, pre-marital sex is NOTHING to joke about.

However, this second and much more revealing blurb about the book actually sickened me. Do you remember being a teenager? Being so curious about things, all the changes in your body, all the confusing emotions and angst and difficulties that can sometimes be part of the territory? I don't think it's helpful to give them a manual describing all of the variant and deviant behavior one can indulge in or be pulled into.

Even more disturbing was the fact that in a few of the libraries in our area, it is in the YOUNG ADULT section. Here in Hudson our library is part of an area wide coalition that allows members to borrow material by requesting it online or by calling the library. So you have a very wide array of books, movies, etc available. At several of the member libraries this book is available in the Young Adult section which means any child can pull it off the shelf and peruse it's contents.

Alhamdulillah in Hudson at least it's on the Adult level which library cardholders 12 and under cannot access unless a parent is with them. Once they turn 12 or 13 they can apply for an be given free pass to the adult section as well. (Not Adult as in XXXAdultXXX btw just the grown-up area. lol)

I am very interested to hear ya'lls comments/thoughts on this. I know for myself, I would never allow my daughter to read this filth. It brings all the worst elements of western sexuality and lays them out like a buffet for impressionable teens to pick through.

Would you let your child read this? Would you read this? Are you as appalled as I am or do you feel there should be more freedom of information? I am curious to hear.

Leave your comments, please. Ma salaama ya'll...


Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Hmmmm, that is difficult.

Some sections would probably be okay to read once a young Muslimah prepare herself for marriage, but others, like anything on anal sex, being gay ect... well, yick. any moral young lady or gentleman wouldn't read that anyway.

This book was intended for a wider audience then those with the same scruples and morals as us, so I would not say burn it. Afterall, same things are available via internet, tv, in worse err, array. But if I was letting my child check it, I'd probably read through it first and say which section could or not could be read.

As Muslims, are kids should still know medically about sex. But they should know what our deen says about first as a guide, so they know what other crap there is out there to disregard.

Um Zakarya said...

Assalamu Aleykum my dear sister,

I'm just as apalled as you are.I wouldn't read it myself and would never ever let my child read this kind of books INSHALLAH.
ALHAMDULILLAH we are muslims and we should always keep a modest and dignified behavior, this also includes the books that we or our children read.

Umm Hamza said...

Authubillah! What immodest garbage! Ugh! My kids aren't yet teens but I always said I would discuss things with them on a need-to-know basis. This is just ridiculous. How many teenagers begin experimenting with the haram just because they heard about it somewhere and it sparked their curiosity? Don't give them a smorgasboard of ideas prematurely, and certainly not with the context that premarital sex (straight OR gay, astagfirullah) is not only ok, but HEALTHY. This is not even an Islamic issue, this is a moral issue, reaching far beyond religion and spreading corruption. At the very LEAST this book should be extremely limited in it's availability, and I'm sad that in the west, sex ed is no longer a choice for each family to determine, it's EVERYWHERE! May Allah help us.

HijabiMommy said...

This disgusts me. Instead of addressing issues like teen sex and teen pregnancy, let's just give teens the green light to do and practice whatever they like. Just as long as they remember to grab the spermicide and not the toothpaste.

Seriously, what is wrong with our society?? Putting all this pressure on our young people and forcing them to grow up so fast. I'm sorry, but teen sex is not something to laugh about.

May Allah protect our young, impressionable kids from crap like this.

Kaighla said...

I think you should tell the library how you feel about this, point out that the book is inappropriate for children under 18. That is what I would do, probably.

Banana Anne said...

This is a very interesting topic that you brought up, and I'd love to toss in my two cents.

I think my parents took a good approach when it came to teaching me about sex. They gave me age-appropriate information while at the same time being straight-forward (no silly euphemisms, etc.). They also stressed that it wasn't anything "bad" or "dirty", but definitely something that's only for adults that love each other. They gave me books to read that explained things about sex and answered questions about things like contraception, STDs, and the like, but these were all written in a very matter-of-fact way without trying to be funny or clever. I'm personally glad that my parents were open and allowed me to read (certain) books about it, because it informed me and satisfied my curiosity enough that I didn't have to find out sex information from books like the one you're talking about or from the internet.

Unfortunately, I think because of the society we live in today, it is necessary for teenagers to get facts about sex. I certainly don't think that teenagers should be going around having premarital sex, but if they choose to do so, they need to be informed about things like STDS and pregnancy to protect themselves. I do think the stuff about fetishes and sex toys are pushing it a little too far.

Basically, while I believe that teenagers do need to be informed about sex, it seems like this book is going beyond just "informing"; I would choose something that is "just the facts, ma'am". And with my children, I would stress that as Muslims we should wait until after we're married to have sex.

Umm Aaminah said...

Salaam OPNO. I agree that all young people preparing for marriage need to understand their bodies and to know that sexual relations between spouses are beautiful, halal, and encouraged. I absolutely plan on giving this information to Aaminah when she is preparing for marriage. Unfortunately (and I am sure you see this, being in a predominately Muslim environment) alot of born Muslims tend to overlook this important part of their children's education. I would never let my daughter however take a sex ed class in school but I am more than qualified to teach her about her body and what she needs to know to be a happy and fulfilled wife insha'Allah. :-)

Mona Z said...

I'm not surprised or appalled 'cause it's not for Muslims. It seems pretty mainstream for America today. Not anything I'd give my kids to read though.

Umm Aaminah said...

I love getting all your comments on this issue. :-) Jazakum Allahu khair.

I would like to specifically comment on what Anne had to say. Masha'Allah I think your parents handled that beautifully. As I stated to OPNO I absolutely believe in educating my children about their bodies; it seems your parents found a nice balance.

As a Muslim, here is how I intend to handle it with Aaminah: I would explain about puberty, menses, and related body changes when I can tell she is getting to that stage. Then as she matures and I see she has an interest in boys (becoming more shy, etc) I would give her selected, age-appropriate, Islam appropriate, information.

Once she was a grown woman and ready to marry we would have a very frank conversation. I don't feel she needs to know the "nuts and bolts" at a more impressionable age as pre-marital sex just isn't gonna happen insha'Allah. I fully intend to monitor my daughter and chaperone her. I take my job as protector, teacher, mentor seriously. I am here to help her gain Jannah. That is my role as her parent and I will do my utmost to help her to that end. :-)

Kaighla, I do intend to call the partner libraries and inform them I find this material unsuitable to be in the Young Adult section and request they move it. If it were just straight-forward info that would be one thing but the tone and content of this make it unsuitable for younger kids to get ahold of.

Nikki said...

I'm actually currently in graduate school studying to become a librarian and we talk about this kind of thing all the time in my courses. The job of the librarian is to provide resources regardless of the librarians individual thoughts and feelings on the subject. Many patrons, you included, (I'm not being judgmental, it's just a fact of life), enjoy this open mindedness when it suits their particular needs. There are few Muslims/Arabic speaking people in my community, for example, yet I was happily surprised that the library carried a good variety of Islamic books as well as at least one Arabic children's book. The vast majority of the population here would probably not want their children exposed to Islam, yet, Alhumdullilah, books are available for those of us who desire them.

The librarians job is to make available, the parent's job is to instill values in their children. If your child is old enough to go to the library by his/herself, and needs to go to this crass source for information on sex, then you frankly haven't done a good enough job as a parent at informing them (I know this has not happened to you, I'm just making my case). I grew up in a conservative Christian home in which sex was a taboo subject. When I was 18 I got involved with the wrong guy and was taken advantage of, largely due to my naivety. My parents did not teach me about sex, because they were trying to shelter me and thought the church did a good enough job of teaching abstinence. In reality, their brushing this issue off as the church's responsibility caused me to learn from friends, the internet, and television, all which are dangerous sources. I made terrible choices and am very, very lucky I did not come away with an STD or pregnant. As a high school senior, I would've appreciated having an open minded book like this available because maybe it would have told me "He's lying. That method is not safe and you are not still a virgin." which is what I needed to hear at the time.

Leave it on the shelves for those who need it. While I don't agree with homosexuality, young homosexuals do need a resource that allows them to stay safe.

In my library course, these types of discourse generally come down to, if you don't like it, don't read it. You have every right to censor your own children's literature but not the literature of the entire community.

Umm Aaminah said...

Nikki, my issue isn't to "burn" or ban a book but to put it in a less accessible place for impressionable children. In the Young Adult section, you only have to be 13. This books discussses sex toys, how to use them, and deviant sexual practices such as fetishes.

I believe 100% children need to be educated about their bodies. This book is not educational, it's sensational. Just because a book is published doesn't make it read-worthy. There are alot of books that never make it to a library shelf. :-)

My point is simply (beyond my personal disgust) that it needs to be out of the reach of young children. I take my 4 children to the library; I stay with them. I cannot watch all 4 at one time and I do expect the young adult section to be a safe place with certain guidelines for what is available there and what is not.

As I stated, in our library it is in the adult section which I fully agree with. In some of the other "sister" libraries it has been placed in the Young Adult section which I vehemently disagree with.

Also, it doesn't matter how a child is raised, they will be curious as to what is between the covers of a book that says "Teen sex" which shows mating cattle. That is human nature not the result of bad parenting.

Once an idea is planted in your mind, it's there. You cannot erase it. I don't want this type of trash in the minds of my children. I will be calling the libraries to respectfully ask they move this book to the Adult section.

Halima said...

Asalaamu aleikum-

Yes, it's appalling- but, unfortunately, it's just par for the course these days. If you look in any YA section in most libraries you will find books available for teens and younger children which contain completely inappropriate material. There are popular fantasy series, for example, about "fairies" and "vampires" where the human teenage heros/heroines have sex with these creatures, get tatoos, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc. Even pre-teen girls are into the whole "Twilight" phenomenon- and there are a plethora of tv shows where teens(played by MUCH older actors) carry on adult-like lives and activities. We're up against alot as parents- I can certainly see why many muslims choose to home school or send their kids to Islamic schools if possible!

Candice said...

I'm not shocked because these types of things are all over the place! Of course they are all very well stuffed into this ONE book it seems, but it's all information that can be easily found on the internet and in pieces all over magazines too.

I'm a little appalled though that it can be so accessible to young people because it does not seem AT ALL appropriate. I'm glad you're going to try to make them put it in the adult section because that is definitely where it belongs! Actually, it doesn't belong anywhere because adults don't need information given in this "funny", hyped up type of way and teens shouldn't be reading this crap!

I'm not at all surprised that it exists. It's our world now.

I am all for sex ed for young teens because lots of parents do not take that responsibility seriously and there's a lot of information that they need to have, even if they are waiting to have sex until marriage. For their own well-being and the well-being of their marriage, they should know the mechanics and what types of things people do when they are in a committed relationship. I think though that love and commitment need to be seriously emphasized when talking to kids about sex. They gather everything they hear and if they know all about sex, but were taught about the self-respecting way of waiting until you are committed to someone, they will take it even more seriously. Even if they know all about penises and vaginae (spell-check told me it's not vaginas, lol) and orgasms and STD's and even sex toys. I have nothing against sex toys used between two committed people. It can make things that much more interesting and I don't know why Muslim kids need to think that their sex is going to be so much more boring than others because it really isn't going to be because of the feelings involved, but also doesn't have to be because much of the same "techniques" can be used as far as I'm concerned!

As parents, we really need to be ahead of the game with our information because it can sometimes seem so much cooler when it's coming from peers and TV. That's my point of view anyway!

Umm Aaminah said...

Once again sisters, loving all the comments and differing points of view. :-) Jazakum Allahu khair for taking the time to comment!

DD said...

I would read it out of interest but i don't know if i'd let my kid. It'd depend on the kid i suppose. If i feel like he/she possesses a strong enough emaan and wont stray so easily by a book then i would let him/her read it out of interest. I'd have to read it first though! If it's too pornographic than nah!