Question: Are You Into Safe Sex?

Posted January 15, 2015 by Carmel in Question / 121 Comments

RRQuestion


Unless you’re strictly a Young Adult reader, and even then there are still ‘mature’ books in this genre, you’ve probably encountered a decent amount of sex scenes in your fictional wanderings, but how many of ’em actually mentioned contraception in some way, shape or form? It doesn’t cross my mind a lot; however there are certain occasions where I think that it should practically be a requirement. I don’t want an author to beat me over the head with it because even though some writers are capable of making condoms hot, as a general rule they aren’t, so a brief mention when two characters initially get together is sufficient in most instances.

There are certain scenarios though where its absence is incredibly noteworthy, namely novels that feature group sessions. Cassie Alexander’s THE HOUSE immediately comes to mind. In this book every room that the protagonist visits leads to a different erotic experience, yet there is absolutely NO mention of any of the characters using protection or having had to submit a clean bill of health in order to be able participate in this particular fantasy. In situations like this it’s tough not feel equal amounts disgust and arousal at the on page happenings.

New Adult / Young Adult are genres in which this subject MUST be addressed in my opinion on account of the age of the hero(in)es, and the overall target audience of these types of titles. Teen pregnancy and STI’s are not topics that should be glossed over, or disregarded entirely, and I think that authors have a responsibility to don the role model cap if they decide to include romps in their stories. I read Kate Bloomfield’s LONE GIRL this past November, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, it features a student / teacher relationship. I easily accepted that the issue was omitted entirely in the first installment, but book 2 actually trivialized the practice of safe sex which was so NOT cool.

The only exception to both of the previous examples is if the characters are immortal supernaturals. It’s kinda implied that these peeps are immune to all diseases, and are more often than not sterile (i.e. vampires), so there’s no real point in them wearing a condom. The very idea of it is actually pretty silly when you think about it. However, if the protagonist is a red blooded human, then I’d prefer there to be a quick footnote. Jennifer Estep does this really well in her ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN novels with her reoccurring little white pills statement.

Are You Into Safe Sex?


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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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121 responses to “Question: Are You Into Safe Sex?

  1. Pili from In Love With  

    To tell the truth I don’t always keep in mind when reading, but when I see it addressed as part of the scene I always nod my head thinking that yes, that’s how it should always be addressed!

    And I agree that with YA or NA, it should always be compulsory to include it somehow, even if it just fades to black and it’s only implied.

    Great question Carmel!
    Pili recently posted…Xpresso Book Tours Blog Tour for The Body Electric by Beth Revis!!

    • I don’t actively seek it out in books, but I do take note whenever it’s mentioned. The only time that it’s acceptable to skip it in in YA/NA dystopians because of extenuating circumstances.

  2. Hmm, that is an interesting question. I do see condoms sometimes mentioned in romance books that I read, but I don’t really think about it. And now that you mention it, one place I NEVER hear about contraception is in YA books. And shouldn’t those books talk about it even more than other genres because young people are probably reading them? Good post.
    Cynthia recently posted…BOOK REVIEW: Vanishing Girls

    • Agreed! It seems weird to me that adult books mention it more often than YA. Then again, I don’t read much of the latter, so I’m probably not the best person to ask.

  3. Although I do admit that sometimes I don’t even think about contraception when I read sex scenes, there are certain books that put me off when they don’t. Mainly contemporary NA with a man whore for a hero. Like seriously, if he has a reputation that he banged everyone with a vagina, the heroine should not be so naive to think that it’s okay not to use a condom just for the simple fact that “this is different.” No. Just no.

    Great question Carmel! πŸ™‚
    Amir recently posted…Review: Ashes to Ashes by Jennifer Han and Siobhan Vivian

    • I can’t say that I’ve encountered very many man whores in my wanderings, but then again Contemporary NA isn’t my thing, so that’s not surprising. You raise an excellent (and gross) point though!

  4. To be completely honest, I don’t think much about it. The vast majority of the books that I read are paranormal, so they would go under that no diseases, low fertility genre. I don’t want the author to shove it down my throat with a lot mentioned about it, but a mention of using a condom or birth control doesn’t bother me as long as don’t have long drawn out dialogue for every scene.

    I do agree that with the YA and NA books that is should be more to the for front. Just for the fact that the target market for those characters are young readers who are probably starting to think about such things. The author needs to handle both possible pregnancy and STDs in some manner.
    Melanie recently posted…Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

    • For the most part, Paranormal is my go-to genre, so it’s a non issue for me; however I do encounter a fair share of human protagonists, so I think it’s still relevant. You’re showing your age with STD’s, the term has since been changed to STI’s. At least in Canada. LOL! πŸ˜€

  5. I guess I don’t really think about it much, but then I read more historical romances where they didn’t have that sort of stuff. The only thing the guy could do is pull out before the deed was finished which some authors do write. I think it should always be in YA and NA but I really don’t think that much about it.
    Stormi recently posted…Audioreview of The Accidental Demon Slayer

  6. In general I prefer it if there’s a short mention, but as it’s fiction I can give most books some leeway. And like you mentioned in most paranormal romances it is less of an issue, but when the characters are human it needs to be adressed, especially when one or both of them had other partners in the past.
    The author doesn’t have to use a lot of words or attract attention to it, but a simple mention of birth control or condom would be nice in most cases. I always visualize what’s happening in a book and some sex scenes can make me cringe.
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Do you schedule posts?

    • I don’t want some long, dawn out talk about the birds and the bees because yeah, that is totally NOT sexy. But, personally, I think being responsible is an attractive trait, so I love it when characters go that route.

  7. Kelly  

    I absolutely agree! I work in labor and delivery and I have heard it all! Teenagers come in with everything imaginable nowadays and keep coming back with the same thing and pregnant over and over. First that target age doesn’t listen to wisdom and only to peers so if the it is written they think they are immune too. I had a 14 year old with syphyllis once. But my best one is the patient who came in and I asked her if the father was involved. She told me she didn’t know who the father was, she got pregnant during an orgy. After I lifted my jaw off the floor, that’s all I could think about. IF it is out there written than it must be okay, because any age can be stupid. Just my 2cents!

    • That’s my line of thinking as well. The message doesn’t need to be blatant, but it should still be there to a certain extent. Authors need to think about who’s reading their books!

  8. To be honest, I am ok if it is mentioned once because they acknowledge it. I get a little annoyed if it is mentioned every time because we get it–they are being safe.

    Can I just say in NA I like it mentioned but according to NA today we are living in a world with a bunch of young adults that are totally on top of that (I am thinking it is not that proportionate)
    Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Audiobook Review: Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper

    • If it’s mentioned EVERY time a couple gets it on in a book, it can get a little redundant, especially if there are lots of steam scenes. And, that NA speal is just a load of crap!

  9. I really don’t think about that much when I’m reading, I always feel you can’t get STD of pregnant in a fictional world, same as how everyone is beautiful; however, I totally agree with you, for books targeted to Younger audience like NA (20’s) some kind of protection should be mentioned.
    Now I’ll be thinking about this when I read/listen…lol
    Lupdilup recently posted…The Darkest Touch Audiobook by Gena Showalter (review)

    • Aah, you gotta love fiction where everyone is beautiful, disease free, and can’t get knocked up. LOL! Sorry to burst your listening bubble. Hopefully it’ll be short lived.

  10. Yes! Thank you.
    You (generic authorial you) can spend a couple pages describing gun manufacturer pros and cons, fashion choices or lunch options but you can’t do a two line “Hey, don’t knock anyone up/don’t pass on vamp STDs” drop in? You want to add reality, go there.

  11. I agree Carmel! In YA/NA books I’m definitely more aware of a lack of protection in sex scenes than I am in adult novels, though like you said, sometimes even then there are instances where the lack of safe sex practices are so unrealistic as to distance me from the story itself. Paranormal or dystopian romances are usually exceptions for me, as immunities or special circumstances explain the lack of need for protection. Kit Rocha’s super erotic Beyond series is one such example. It’s explained early on about birth control, (though diseases are sort of glossed over – I just rolled with it though) so it wasn’t a question I kept asking myself every time a couple hooked up πŸ˜‰

    • That’s the way to go. Nip it in the bud from the get-go, so you don’t have to rehash it in every installment. There are certain circumstances where I find the lack of protection downright disgusting which takes away from the enjoyment of what otherwise should have been a rather pleasant scene.

  12. This isn’t a huge issue for me because I mainly read PNR where the hero/heroine are “immune” to any kind of STD and sometimes even pregnancy, but I do feel strongly about this topic in any other romance novel. It’s unrealistic to read about young women/grown women hooking up with guys and not even contemplating any kind of protection…I always think to myself: WHY??!!! I personally don’t mind if it’s not mentioned in a story, but I think when a book is written with a particular audience in mind (YA/NA) safe sex should definitely be incorporated into the scene in some way.
    Lori recently posted…One Month of Elle Kennedy {Promo + Giveaway}

  13. Great points! I pay attention to that to. I agree that it is very important in YA. I mean it really should be mentioned in any book but as an adult reading adult books you should probably know the consequences by now anyway. I know not everyone uses contraception or always remembers to use it, that is life, but I think it is important to bring up the fact that they forgot or throw in some consequences. I know there are not always consequences and it shouldn’t become preachy or mentioned a million times but it could be brought up once or twice.

    • Exactly! If you’re an adult reading an adult book then you don’t need someone to educate you about the dos & don’ts of sex. Still, I’m a stickler for details, so I appreciate it when an author goes there.

  14. I have to agree, the mention of some form of safe sex is ideal. Otherwise it’s a matter of, your up the duff and didn’t take a second to think about it. Especially when some characters are having sex left right and everywhere else with different people. Doesn’t take much for a quick mention at least once. But YA has to be mentioned all the time as far as I’m concerned. Drill it into the YA readers heads use it if you’re going to do it.

    • There are tons on genres out there that feature insta-love where the protagonists end up sleeping together after only days of knowing each other (sometimes less). Yeah, sure it’s your soulmate, but certain convos need to be had!

  15. I don’t typically think about contraception in books and whether characters actually use them or anything. The only time a red flag really goes up is when two characters have sex and nothing in mentioned and it’s a well known fact one of them was a huge player before. IE. NEW ADULT BOOKS. I was cringe and loose a bit of respect for both characters. I mean, safe sex might not be all that sexy and I guess neither are contraceptives but STI’S aren’t ether.
    Lily recently posted…Last Will and Testament (Radleigh University #1):Review

    • You’re the second person that’s raised the ‘player’ point, so that’s obviously something that needs to be address in New Adult novels. What a HUGE oversight!

  16. I don’t read erotica, but I have noticed as of late that alot of the adult and NA adult books I have been reading the males have been using condoms. I always appreciate when the author takes the time to include the whole condom thing, I think it is especially important in the NA books which is targeting an audience that usually tends to be very sexually active. Great topic this week, Carmel.
    Heidi recently posted…Review: Marked (Servants of Fate #1) by Sarah Fine

  17. I agree Carmel and think this is especially important in YA/NA books. It doesn’t take much to handle it well, but something should be mentioned. There should be a sense of responsibility – awareness, and I’ve actually think authors are finally taking note of this. I do have to admit in the paranormal romance world, I give more headway with the adults. In contemporary though – I expect it initially.
    Great and thoughtful topic, Carmel!!
    Kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday: The Veil by Chloe Neill

    • My experience with the NA genre is rather limited, and for the most part negative vis-Γ -vis safe sex, so I’m relieved by your comment. PNR definitely gives an author carte blanche though!

  18. Paranormal Romance or anything involving supernaturals – I don’t care.

    Contemporary set romances – usually I want some acknowledgement – a quick discussion of being healthy and on the pill OR condom… yes. Especially the first time. After that, it depends. If the author is one that tends to describe everything going on, then I want that included (if condom is being used), if the author fades to black, then I don’t care so much. What bothers me is when an author brings it up the first couple of times or so, and then not again… I always wonder if they are still using protection, or if there was a discussion of pages, or…
    Jen Twimom recently posted…Listen Up! The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

    • I usually assume the couple is still using protection if it was mentioned during their first encounter. It’s funny that you think about it each time thereafter! Inquiring minds want to know. Hehe!

  19. I tend toβ€”and I realize this is awfulβ€”find it all very distracting. I mean, I want the characters to be safe/healthy but I find it very unsexy to have them talking about it or having the awkward condom grabbing and putting on bits. I wish it could always be assumed even though that’s unrealistic.

    But then, unless I’m reading an erotic romance I prefer closed-door love scenes. Especially in YA, I read one last year that wasn’t and felt really uncomfortable about it.

    On a related note… I do love it when scifi/fantasy/paranormal have cool versions of protection. Katee Robert had spray-on condoms mentioned in one of her scifi romances that made me grin.
    Rhianna recently posted…Release Day: SKIP TO THE GOOD PART Vol. 3

    • Fair enough. Reading about safe sex kinda intrudes on your fantasyland, but I still think that there’s a way to tastefully include it without it taking away from a scene. I can’t say that I’ve encountered any especially creative contraception methods in Paranormal, but I’ll be paying closer attention from here on in!

  20. Great questions! I don’t necessarily read a ton of romance, and when I did, a lot of it was paranormal so I didn’t give it much thought. You’re right though…I think when you’re dealing with real life humans, it should be mentioned at some point, especially with YA/NA novels.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Ask Me Anything – Your Answers!!

  21. I don’t like the details, but I’ve gotten so used to reading books with protection mentioned that I really don’t like it when it doesn’t come into play. There are so many books where the characters fall into bed after knowing each other for such a short time before they fall into bed that the protection is absolutely essential. I cringe when I read the familiar lines of ‘I’m clean; you are too, right?’ or something of that effect.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Review: The Trouble With Texas Cowboys by Carolyn Brown

    • The heroine should TOTALLY trust her drunken suitor when they are about to have sex in the bathroom of the bar, and he asks that question. Talk about inspiring confidence, right? πŸ˜‰

  22. I don’t usually think about it since most of the books I read are paranormal. But it does come up on occasion and I’ve seen a woman say she’s on the pill or a guy ask if she is. I just figure it’s one of those things that a given, in romance. It’s a given that they use the bathroom, even though no one talks about it. I don’t think about it most of the time.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Ailments in Older Male Rats

  23. anna from herding cats &

    I’m a condom…every single time girl. Or at least mention of being clean and why pregnancy isn’t possible (like if mixed species, or whatever) before they fall into bed. But other than that if they’re having sex I need a condom mentioned every time or to me they aren’t using one and that squicks me right the heck out. It doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal mention just a crinkle of foil or something.
    anna recently posted…The Wedding Vow (Save the Date #2) by Cara Connelly (@avonbooks)

  24. Mary from BookSwarm  

    I think it’s important, even if it takes the reader out of the moment (really, there’s no ideal time to ask about a clean bill of health or contraception, except that it needs to be before the heat turns into smexytimes). I think there are subtle ways it can be done — and that it does need to be done. Too many diseases and surprise babies.
    Mary recently posted…Blog Tour: Shoalman Immortal by Toni Decker

    • True. There’s no ‘good’ time to bring it up, nonetheless the ‘talk’ needs to be had. There needs to be a bit of reality in our books, even in romances.

  25. Amanda from On a Book  

    This is something I *always* pay attention to in my historical romances because safe sex back then often amounted to simply pulling out. A few books I’ve read have used condoms (or French letters), but it’s rare. In some books, whether the hero pulls out or not is often central to the plot or, at the very least, indicative of his feelings toward the heroine.

    But yes. I’m definitely into safe sex.
    Amanda recently posted…The Sinner Who Seduced Me by Stefanie Sloane {Amanda’s DNF Review}

    • Thanks for contributing! I was hoping to hear from a few Historical Romance readers because I wasn’t sure how the issue was addressed in these books. Good to know!

  26. I would have NEVER thought of this! In New Adult I kind of expect it, because I feel like they’re more conscious about it. Which is necessary. I don’t particularly read YA contemporary so I can’t comment on it. I hope they do make the fact that they’re having safe sex explicit. Like I really hope.

    In terms of dystopian or (urban) fantasy, I don’t expect it at all.
    Amber Elise recently posted…[Promo Post]Atlantis Rising

  27. Good question. I’ll say, I don’t really have an opinion about it. Most of the books that I’ve been reading don’t really have sex in them (except for a graphic novel I’ve read that borders on insane ridiculousness so I can’t expect too much in the safe sex department). I guess it depends on the situation? Random hookups with virtual strangers? YES. YES.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…Confessions of an Addict [#35]: Unrelated Observations and Pointless Conclusions.

    • I didn’t really expect you to contribute your two cents on this week’s topic, and seeing it in graphic novels is a whole other ball game. Thanks for your input!

  28. I totally agree that in NA and YA it should absolutely be addressed! In Paranormal Romance…not so much, since yeah, no one’s getting diseases or pregnant (most of the time).

    Although, I cannot fully get into a sex scene, no matter the genre, unless protection is mentioned. If they’re some kind of incompatible supernaturals, fine, good to go! But humans? They better mention something or I’ll just be freaking out that she’s going to get pregnant and there’s going to be this huge pregnancy/baby drama and that’s not sexy. I get even more nervous when the lack of protection is specifically mentioned. To me that’s synonymous with “I’M PREGGERS!!!” Nooooo!!!! Please mention a little foil packet, or hearing foil tearing, or heck, even sexily roll the thing on! Be on the pill! Be infertile! Something! Sorry, but I have rated books down for this, because it really distracts me and takes me out of the scene.
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter, #1) by Megan Shepherd

    • I hate it when a couple ‘forgets’ to use protection, and then a preggo scare ensures to add conflict to the story. That’s so not the way to go IMO. I’m going to start making a note of it in my reviews me thinks. Protection? CHECK.

  29. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    The topic of safe sex has definitely occurred to me in my reading, but I don’t know if I’ve really thought that hard about it. I guess as someone who reads mostly spec fic, if I can accept a world in which werewolves, vampires, magic, and in general weird shit exists, then an author can do anything even if that includes ignoring the risk of unprotected sex. I certainly don’t mind if protection is used though, and I have yet to read a book where the mention of condoms or the pill has been distracting in a love scene. I agree there are some genres that should address it though, and many people have mentioned them already – YA, NA, contemporary etc.
    Mogsy recently posted…Tough Traveling – Messiahs

    • I don’t find the mention of condoms or the pill in a sex scene distracting either when it’s done well. The characters don’t need to argue the pros & cons, a quick ‘we’re being safe’ is sufficient in most cases.

  30. I agree that it is important to address the issues in Young Adult and New Adult books. Luckily, I think almost all of the YA books I’ve read with sex scenes in them talked about or used contraception. NA is a different story, I’ve never read one that used contraception. You’re right though, safe sex or contraception isn’t really talked about in adult books unless it’s worrying they are pregnant or taking the day after pill.
    Alise recently posted…Review: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

  31. Joy from Thoughts By J  

    YES I absolutely agree Carmel. Especially in YA, authors that venture into the topic should have the responsibility of highlighting the themes of safe sex. It really only takes a sentence or two, and I wouldn’t be turned off from it at all. I personally would find it worse when a girl has sex with the cliched ‘player’ and doesn’t even think about contraception. I also agree that I don’t really care when there are paranormal people involved. But for contemporary novels, authors need to be sending the right message to their readers!
    Joy recently posted…Book Review: Whisper the Dead (The Lovegrove Legacy #2) by Alyxandra Harvey

  32. Yeah, I read one NA recently that I loved, but they didn’t mention anything about using protection, and I was thinking “is he not going to put a condom on?” lol. I agree with safe sex should be used the younger the target audience is. I mean, it doesn’t have to be a huge deal, just acknowledged.
    Christy recently posted…Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

  33. This is a great question!
    I often read YA books and wonder about it.
    In Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series, this issue was addressed quite well. It wasn’t in your face, but it was slipped in almost naturally, which I do appreciate it. There are tons of instances, where I just want to scream at the author: “What the hell kind of message are you sending to our teenagers!”

    • I’m not a parent, but I still feel annoyed by the message that some NA/YA authors are sending to their young readers. It’s great that JLA addresses it in her novels. She has my respect.

  34. Yup, I’m definitely into safe sex in my books, Carmel! One of my pet-peeves is the no-condom thing, and I even take off a star for unsafe sex! In our day and age, I can’t understand why safe sex isn’t more talked about in books – and I especially hate it when a heroine says something like ‘I’m on the pill’… as if getting pregnant is the worst that could happen to her. As if she could die if she became pregnant, and it’s not important if she gets HIV or another STD that could truly ruin her life.
    And I think it’s sexy when characters care enough about each other to want to make sure they’re BOTH safe at the beginning of their sexual relationship. I would never take anyone on their word if they said they know they’re ‘clean’ and that they’ve never had sex without a condom before – if they are ready to do it with that one character they just met, they may have done it in the past as well.
    If you want to read about all my gripes about it, you can check out my Safe Sex post from last year. Because I could go on and on and on..
    Lexxie recently posted…DNF Review: Hex Hall – Rachel Hawkins

    • No safe sex = negative star. LOVE IT! Pregnancy is indeed only one possibility on a very long list of consequences to forgoing protection. I didn’t realize that you felt so strongly on the topic; I will indeed check out your post. πŸ™‚

  35. Howdy Carmel, just weighing in with my thoughts–which are pretty parallel to your own.

    1) I understand your statement about YA especially, and also agree it rings true for *some* NA, but not all non-paranormal YA/NA stories are being true to themselves if a condom is used or implied*.

    2) When it comes to *adult* non-paranormal stories, I do believe there should be a lot more consideration for them, because, whilst not all adults in life act like adults or mature OR responsible, if the author wants the reader to give a damn about an MC, they have to have at least some wherewithal about them. The only time I really see this working is if an MC redeems themselves after they’ve shown some concern over their lack of consideration, or grown in character due to falling pregnant and dealing well with that–whatever: there has to be some kind of effect for the MC to deal with as a result*. OR it can also work if the one not using protection isn’t actually the MC. OR if the MC is a male*.

    3) And, as you’ve said above, there will always be some leeway when it comes to PNR/UF/Sci-fi, etc, for the very reasons you’ve described. Or, in some cases (though I’ve not read anything with this kind of content so far), the female or male character may have a responsibility to ‘sow their seed’ or become with child. There are often circumstances that find a way around it in these genres. However, I do believe the lines of those circumstances become a little blurred when one half (or sometimes more) of the participants in the sexual relationship is human. Because that human, unless they know what they’re sleeping with or are privy to that characters world and bodily workings, probably *would* give a damn about contraception. Probably more so than if they were sleeping with another human, due to what their pregnancy could potentially create. So, yes, even in these genres, the use of contraception should still be considered before its necessity is ruled out*.

    *In every one of these cases, there is room for manoeuvre in that, it massively depends on the character and who they are as a person. Not everyone in live gives a damn about protection, and if the author wants elements of truth in their books, they have to also consider this as an option. However, I do also feel that the reasoning for it, or the mention of it at least, also needs to be in there, so the reader understands that it hasn’t been skimmed over. And also, the author just has a mighty fine plot-important reason for giving a character no protection with not a single thought for it–but this *should* have some kind of mention/consequence later in the book, which is dealt with, even so.

    There are probably more circumstances in which the lines blur, but I’ve only had one coffee so far this morning and haven’t quite woke up yet, so you’ll have to excuse any typos, too. But I will say, before I go, that I also give kudos if I’m reading a book where contraception IS used and the author has managed to weave in the application of that seamlessly without hitching the scene.

    P.S. Too often ‘I’m on the pill’ is used as their contraception cover. However, if the character is sleeping with another for the first time–especially when that ‘another’ has been a gal-shagging scoundrel up until that point–should the pill be considered as, or accepted as adequate contraception for them? Especially when there is so much more than just pregnancy that folk need to be cautious of in RL. Just another thought to throw in. ☺
    jabelfield recently posted…#TeaserTenth

    • It’s unfortunate that it has become something that just blends into the background now because it’s been disregarded so often. I’m trying to do my part!

  36. julie from m5monkeys  

    I do make sure that they are safe in both YA/NA and adult novels …marriage changes that in books and also the trope where someone ends up getting pregnant and falling in love. I do like it when characters are into safe sex. I notice it even more when it’s not safe. I do understand that books can be a break from life but if the book is cometempory then heck yes use a condom or birth control. Great question.
    julie recently posted…2015 one Word and Fitreaders

    • It’s totally find to skip over it altogether if the couple is married, just so long as cheating isn’t part of it. Don’t even get my started on THAT. I sense another question post coming on!

  37. I mainly read YA and I am constantly surprised by how often safe sex is not mentioned, discussed or practised and if they do discuss it, it is often brushed aside because the heroine is ‘usually’ on birth control – its crazy & more often than not the same happens with NA as well! I’m not so fussed about it as I once was but it isn’t realistic.
    Sharon – Obsession with Books recently posted…Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

  38. I think it’s important, if you read an erotica or a book really concentrated on the romance, for there to be mention of it. But if it’s YA paranormal or fantasy, I think they just want to make us think that there is no need for it in their magical world. At least, that’s how I think of it. πŸ˜› They never mention femal characters having their period either…
    Lola recently posted…Review: Under Different Stars (Kricket, #1) by Amy A. Bartol

    • I don’t think young girls learning how to use a tampon is on the same level as safe sex, but yeah, but bodily functions are skipped over in fiction for good reason. However, I think this particular subject should be the exception to that rule.

  39. I agree with you 100%. I don’t want a lot of time distracting from the story to talk about condoms or what have you, but I think not mentioning some precautions can really make a sex situation less sexy. And with ya/na its a definite must. Great post!
    Berls recently posted…2014 Book of the Year | Finals

  40. It ticks me off when there are no condoms and the couple just say to each other – i am clean.The worst is virgins and no condoms. It’s like: for f*ck sake, are you kidding me?! I’ve been known to dnf a book for that reason. I think STI’s should be included into compulsory sex education so teens would know that the consequences of not being careful can stay with them for years(and I’m not talking about pregnancies here). Great question, Carmel!
    kara-karina recently posted…The Postman Knock #108

    • Ooh yeah, virgins throwing caution into the wind has to be the DUMBEST thing EVER. I’d totally DNF a book that was guilty of that too. It’s not an author’s responsibility to educate their readers on sex, but their characters should still be role models.

  41. Like Sophia I am so used to it it bugs me when it’s missing. BUT what also bugs me is when it is only used in intercourse. Last time I checked oral also involves body fluids and only one writer I have read has ever had a character put on a condom for oral or anal.

    In YA — if it isn’t a book about unplanned pregnancy or how not using condoms least to STDS then it had better be there. I know some publishers had policies about it.

    Great discussion!
    steph at fangswandsandfairydust recently posted…Sunday Post: Apropos of Nothing β€” It’s A Chelsea Morning

    • You bring up a good point about oral, although personally dental dams are a little too over the top for me. I didn’t realize that certain publishers have policies in place; good to know!

  42. I read a lot of YA and Adult books and I guess this topic doesn’t matter much to me. I know how to practice safe sex in my life so I don’t need a book to preach about it. I do have to say that a lot of erotica books make it a point though that the male uses a condom. This is often a “thing” in an erotic romance book because the male is always using protection until his lady gets on birth control or until he lets go of his obsession with it because they have both been tested.
    I guess different things work in different books. I just personally don’t care much if it is mentioned.
    Great Topic!
    Alexa recently posted…Working It by Kendall Ryan *Alexa’s Review*

    • From an adult’s perspective, I agree, safe sex isn’t essential because we’re able to distinguish fact from fiction. I’m not convinced that teenagers are capable of the same though.

  43. I had never really given this much thought. I was one of those teens who was a “mature” reader and probably read things way over my age bracket. With the NA genre becoming more popular, safe sex in books is extremely important. Whether authors like it or not, their romanticized fictional relationships are often what teens are comparing themselves to. If you don’t at least reference this in books, some teens will either think it is okay to go without protection or simply not ever think about it. Great post!

    • My parents were very strict when I was growing up. I wasn’t allowed to watch a PG movie until I was 13, so I was very naive when it came to sex. Authors need to take that into consideration IMO.

  44. I definitely agree with you, Carmel. I want a condom mentioned in group situations and in YA/NA lit. No condom mentioned doesn’t always bother me but if the couple just met and are hooking up, yeah I want that condom. In stories with adults in committed relationships, I can overlook it. Although that is sometimes a clue to a future plot thread. πŸ˜‰ But you’re right – teens/young adults are reading these books and if safe sex is glossed over, they’re learning bad habits.
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Travel by the Book #1 ~ Savannah

    • Pregnancy isn’t a common thread in most of the genres I read, so I never really thought about it from that angle. I can see how it could come into play in Contemporary though. Your mom side is totally showing in your comment BTW!

  45. I was actually just thinking of this as the book I was reading on the weekend mentioned condoms in the first sex scene, but the later ones it was noticeable absent. The characters were so concerned in the first scene that it felt really weird that there was such an absence in later scenes. It totally stood out in not a good way.

    I do think it’s something that should definitely be mentioned in YA and NA books especially since it is such a big deal.
    Sarah recently posted…Review: Blood Rites

  46. Stephanie from Once Upon a  

    I agree 100% that in YA and NA it should be addressed. Not crammed down their throats but acknowledged as part of a relationship.

    As far as adult books, I don’t need there to be a mention of safe sex. I read as escapism and much like I realize a lot of those positions are not attainable by any human that isn’t double jointed or made of rubber, I also don’t need to know that the heroine could be on the pill, the author didn’t have the ability to sexy up a condom, or that our hero is clean.

    I’m not saying safe sex ruins a book for me. It doesn’t in the slightest. I just don’t have to have it acknowledged.

    Excellent topic! It made me stop and think what it is I really felt about it. πŸ™‚
    Stephanie recently posted…Craving Him by Kendall Ryan *Alexa’s Review*

    • It’s funny how you don’t really think about something while reading, then come across a discussion post like this one, and then can’t stop. I bet you’ll notice every time a character uses a condom from here on in now! You’re welcome. πŸ˜‰

  47. I’m not usually very careful about these things. However, I like it when character use comdoms or pills, it makes them more realistic and relatable. In most books I read, authors have been careful about their characters using some kind of protection during sex. I can’t think of any where it wasn’t the case. As you pointed out, in YA or NA, it’s necessary, unless one of the person involved is a vampire, lol.
    Sarah H recently posted…Sage Noire and The Struggle That Came With It

  48. This is such an interesting question. I have read some books that mention condoms, but I hate books that mention it every single time. I think it is a good thing to address, but I usually just assume unless a pregnancy pops up later in the novel.
    Rachael recently posted…Sunday Post # 3: Homework is endless

    • I just finished listening to an audiobook over the weekend, and the characters used a condom. This topic was still fresh in my mind, so I couldn’t help but notice!