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Diviner
06-06-2007, 04:15 PM
Is a homosexual predator off limits in YA? My orphaned, recently enslaved hero (13) is at risk in my novel. It is high fantasy (without magic) and this is just one of many threats he faces. Is this a no-no?

I have written the scene two ways, one fairly overt, the other more or less aborted before it goes very far. Am I wrong-headed to include it at all?

veinglory
06-06-2007, 04:18 PM
I think that if you mean someone sexually interested in a 13 year old that would generally be described as a pedophile these days (oriented to children c.f. men).

Momento Mori
06-06-2007, 04:56 PM
I don't know the situation in the US, but I don't think that paedophiles are off-limits in in the UK. A recent YA book looked at the sex trade industry and how young girls from Eastern Europe were sold into it (I can't remember the title off the top of my head but can look it up if you're interested - a proportion of the sale price went to a childrens' charity) and Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori featured a weird homosexual character - not exactly a paedophile, but definitely a weirdo who ends up giving the heroine a cherrywood dildo (if you haven't read it, it's a long explanation).

Ultimately, I think you can do anything in YA fiction provided you're writing it well and there's a logic to why it's in the story. Speaking personally, provided you're not equating homosexuality with paedophilia (which can, incidentally, be practiced by men and women and is more prevalent amongst heterosexuals than homosexuals) I don't think there's a problem with it.

MM

Jimmer
06-06-2007, 04:59 PM
Elaine Marie Alphin wrote a great YA book called Counterfeit Son in which a boy is kidnapped and subsequently abused. She handles the abuse fantastically. You certainly can tell what is going on but she never really comes out and says what's happening. The sexual abuse isn't central to the plot so it only shows up once or twice but it's there and it's important.

I believe she won an Edgar Award for that book.

It could give you an example of how you might approach the subject.

Best,
Jim

moondance
06-06-2007, 06:32 PM
I agree with Momento Mori - and think the book you may be referring to is Dirty Work by Julia Bell?
Anyway, I think that the UK is far more open to that kind of book (speaking from personal experience, my very well-received YA novel about self-harm has not found a publisher in the US at all) but that it all depends on how the subject matter is handled.

Will Lavender
06-06-2007, 07:23 PM
Elaine Marie Alphin wrote a great YA book called Counterfeit Son in which a boy is kidnapped and subsequently abused. She handles the abuse fantastically. You certainly can tell what is going on but she never really comes out and says what's happening. The sexual abuse isn't central to the plot so it only shows up once or twice but it's there and it's important.

I believe she won an Edgar Award for that book.

It could give you an example of how you might approach the subject.

Best,
Jim

Funny you mention that book, Jimmer.

I believe Alphin is from Louisville, where I live. I was told about her book recently by a college instructor here who said he was in Alphin's writing group.

I've been meaning to check it out, but I can't seem to find it in the local bookstores.

And yeah, she won an Edgar.

Diviner
06-06-2007, 07:26 PM
What I was wondering was how "escapist" fantasy has to be. We all know these things happen, but what I wasn't sure of was if they should happen in this kind of a book, especially since I see my story appealing to younger as well as older YA.

By the way, I think, with the help of your insights, I have now solved my problem. I really appreciate your prompt responses. I was envisioning something like The Persian Boy, but I think what I have written is better for my puposes than some of the ideas I had been toying with.

About the terminology. Pedophile has connotations of voyeurism and modern day psychosis. It also connotes a non-gender specific taste. My man is homosexual and likes boys. He is a predator because he is in a position to gratify himself without regard for the wishes of his partners/victims. There may be a better description for him than "homosexual predator," but pedophile seems wrong.

Anyway, thanks for the quick and helpful responses whether I thought your labels appropriate or not.

veinglory
06-06-2007, 08:00 PM
It is more the norm to simply not connect child sexual abuse with adult sexual orientation, one doesn't see 'heterosexual predator' used to mean child abuser or pedophile so that word choice will attract the wrong kind of response right out of the starting gate.

Claudia Gray
06-06-2007, 08:40 PM
It is more the norm to simply not connect child sexual abuse with adult sexual orientation, one doesn't see 'heterosexual predator' used to mean child abuser or pedophile so that word choice will attract the wrong kind of response right out of the starting gate.


Agreed. The thing that makes your character a predator is that he preys on children, and that's the part of his sexuality that is criminal.

Maddog
06-06-2007, 08:52 PM
I think it's fairly unheard of for an openly homosexual man to prey on boys. Though I don't have stats to back it up. It's the pedophiles who are the problem. Usually they present themselves to the world as heterosexuals. This is a very common misbelief that I hope can be squashed one day. I can't support your premise, but it is your work...

Diviner
06-06-2007, 08:54 PM
So it should have been "sexual predator"?

Momento Mori
06-06-2007, 08:56 PM
moondance:
think the book you may be referring to is Dirty Work by Julia Bell?

Yes! That's it. Very powerful and quite horrifying - definitely worth a look if you're interested in YA fiction that deals with v. real social issues.


Diviner:
About the terminology. Pedophile has connotations of voyeurism and modern day psychosis. It also connotes a non-gender specific taste. My man is homosexual and likes boys. He is a predator because he is in a position to gratify himself without regard for the wishes of his partners/victims. There may be a better description for him than "homosexual predator," but pedophile seems wrong.

I disagree. Use the word "paedophile" to anyone and the first thing they associate with it is sex with children. If your character is someone who sexually abuses boys, then paedophile is a perfectly "acceptable" term. Personally, I think the problem you'll face will be that there's a hysteria that surrounds the word (at least, there definitely is on this side of the pond), which makes it taboo - you might be better off just not putting any kind of label on who/what your character is and let readers draw their own conclusions from the relevant scenes.

MM

Mysti
06-06-2007, 09:04 PM
As long as the predator scenario is handled with care and conveyed appropriately; you should be okay.

veinglory
06-06-2007, 09:07 PM
I would also think that the more implicit it is the less likely it is to cause consternation. Because near misses like this do happen all the time.

Shady Lane
06-06-2007, 09:28 PM
Have you read the book 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp?

(Hint: You should. :) )

Lisa Blair
06-06-2007, 11:49 PM
To me, this seems like nothing but a cliche. Or does every homosexual man who likes boys gratify himself without regard for the wishes of his partners/victims? Why don't you try creating an original character, for example a homosexual man who likes boys who DOESN'T gratify himself without regard for the wishes of his partner, or a boy who likes adult men and how others view him for that? All this talk of 'homosexual predators' reminds me of the right-wing sex hysteria fueled by America's media. While it may make for lurid late-night entertainment, it certainly doesn't make for original characters or an original story.


My man is homosexual and likes boys. He is a predator because he is in a position to gratify himself without regard for the wishes of his partners/victims. There may be a better description for him than "homosexual predator," but pedophile seems wrong.
.

veinglory
06-06-2007, 11:56 PM
Not to go even further of topic but I feel I must say that with a child consent just doesn't enter the picture. Children are not legally, and in general opinion literally, capable of consenting to sex with an adult.

scarletpeaches
06-07-2007, 12:01 AM
I would venture that it all depends on the age of the child and how great the age difference between them and their partner. For instance, a 15 year old is perfectly capable of consenting to sex with a 17 year old partner, but the 17 year old would be breaking the law, even if the 15 year old is only a week away from their next birthday, when suddenly, overnight, they become 'sexually mature' in the eyes of the law.

Lisa Blair
06-07-2007, 12:16 AM
Not to go even further of topic but I feel I must say that with a child consent just doesn't enter the picture. Children are not legally, and in general opinion literally, capable of consenting to sex with an adult.

My post wasn't off topic. I'm not talking about the politics of the American sex hysteria. I'm talking about creating three dimensional characters. "Children cannot consent" is completely erroneous. At what age can a "child" consent or not? Is a 17 year old the same as a 4 year old? Both are legally children. If the age of consent in the setting of a fictional book is 16, and a character is 15 and 1/2, can he not consent if he's attracted to an older individual? The law says no. If you follow that black and white view of looking at life into your writing, your characters are going to be same black and white cutouts, i.e. boring. If you dare to explore and go beyond the stereotypes (which I believe is what good writers do), then perhaps you'll actually write a book worth reading, as opposed to one that just contains the same old tired cliches.

veinglory
06-07-2007, 12:25 AM
Not all fiction aims to address that particular issue.

moondance
06-07-2007, 11:27 AM
In what way is a homosexual paedophile a stereotype? *is confused*

You can pick any 'category' of people, race and preference - what makes it NOT a stereotype is HOW you create your character - give him realistic motivations and thoughts/dialogue and your reader will not be bored.

I'm with the others, by the way - I think you should avoid giving him a label at all in YA fiction. I don't think paedophile has the connotations you think it does, but it does come with pre-conceived (adult) ideas. 'Homosexual predator' sounds almost worse, I think. Don't call him anything at all!

Toothpaste
06-07-2007, 05:48 PM
I'm not sure it is a stereotype, but I think a lot of people are under the misconception that when an adult male abuses young boys, that makes him a homosexual. This is used as another example of what makes homosexuality a bad thing. As people have already pointed out, statistically it is more likely the man will be heterosexual, but because of the prejudice that goes along with homosexuality, you have to be careful. I don't think it is a problem to have a homosexual predator, but it must be done carefully and with the knowledge that this doesn't mean that ALL homosexuals are predators. When a category of people is stereotyped, and prejudiced in one way, and then someone writes something to that stereotype, even if they are doing it with their eyes wide open, it makes the writing much more tricky in order to convince your readers that you have made a specific choice and not just falling into some prejudicial trap (ie greedy Jews, or an african american who is a criminal).

Also the term "homosexual predator" can cover any number of things, from a homosexual man who preys on men his own age etc. A pedophile has a specific target, one which the OP seems to want to address.

Not saying it can't be done, but man, it has to be done well.

Medievalist
06-07-2007, 06:01 PM
About the terminology. Pedophile has connotations of voyeurism and modern day psychosis. It also connotes a non-gender specific taste. My man is homosexual and likes boys. He is a predator because he is in a position to gratify himself without regard for the wishes of his partners/victims. There may be a better description for him than "homosexual predator," but pedophile seems wrong.

Pedophile is in fact the correct term. The homosexuality is, in clinical terms, a separate issue, though obviously part of your character's description. Pedophile is the term a psychiatrist would use, and the one police use.

Diviner
06-07-2007, 06:29 PM
Just for the record, I have no intention of labeling my character. I describe behavior.

My fantasy is histoical, which is one reason I thought "pedophile" inappropriate, but i stand corrected. In the time period, girls and boys, expecially royalty were married very young, and, as far as I can tell, no one thought of older husbands as pedophiles. As now written, my hero is the object of a failed seduction, turning my homosexual prince into a thwarted suitor, no longer even a predator. it suits my plot better this way. Now his sister... lets just say she gets her jollies in a more homicidal fashion.

veinglory
06-07-2007, 06:34 PM
Perhaps you should give more background, because in a fantasy or historical setting the perspective of events is different, for both characters and reader (and the word homosexual is late Victorian and so likely equally anachronistic what you are describing would probably be 'pederasty' in that setting)

Medievalist
06-07-2007, 06:45 PM
Perhaps you should give more background, because in a fantasy or historical setting the perspective of events is different, for both characters and reader (and the word homosexual is late Victorian and so likely equally anachronistic what you are describing would probably be 'pederasty' in that setting)

What Veinglory said :D

scarletpeaches
06-07-2007, 06:47 PM
Just as a sidenote, Henry VII's mother gave birth to him when she was 13. In those days it was no big deal to marry extremely young.

janetbellinger
06-07-2007, 08:12 PM
Amen.


Agreed. The thing that makes your character a predator is that he preys on children, and that's the part of his sexuality that is criminal.

Dancre
06-08-2007, 04:15 AM
I suggest instead of concentrating on his homosexuality, you concentrate on why the preditor is doing what he's doing and why. Does he regret it? Did someone do this to him? Does he enjoy or not? Why? I really don't care about his sexuality, but I do care why he does it. Just a thought.

kim

Maddog
06-08-2007, 05:03 AM
I think one of the best villains EVER was Joaquin Phoenix's character in Gladiator. He never acted on his urges, but you knew what he was thinking and what he wanted (his nephew). The subtlety (sp?) of the character's dark side was very creepy and definitely got the point across. I prefer this type of characterization to the "look what my bad guy did, isn't he evil" type of storytelling. Perhaps subtlety would work well in your story?

BTW, my ancestor was 19 when she married a 48 year old man back in the 1800's. These days you could hardly get away with that without being shunned or something. It was just more common back then.

scarletpeaches
06-08-2007, 05:20 AM
Pardon me? He wanted his nephew?!

Uh no...he was using his nephew to keep his sister in line. It was his sister he wanted. (You could tell from the way he was lying on top of her).

He envied his nephew because, in his own words, "He is loved."

Maddog
06-08-2007, 06:05 AM
That really was subtle! Isn't that why she let him lay on her? To protect her son?

alainn_chaser
10-06-2007, 11:40 PM
Pedophile is a fairly recent term so if your writing an older set fantasy I personally wouldn't use it. Saying homosexual may offend some people though so yur probably safest with 'sexual predator'.

I also think that these kind of topicsare being actually encouraged as long as they are being done without glorifying abuse.

Medievalist
10-07-2007, 12:05 AM
The first attested use of pedophile in the OED is 1941; that's not recent.

alainn_chaser
10-07-2007, 12:18 AM
Huh. Cool fact. I didn't know that.

Still in the grand scheme of things sixty years is kinda recent. I'd say a good rule of thumb would be that if it doesn't have cars or basic media don't use pedophile. If it does it's probably best to use it.

Medievalist
10-07-2007, 12:24 AM
See Veinglory above (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1388529&postcount=25) on pedarasty

veinglory
10-07-2007, 12:25 AM
The same might be said of an awful lot of words. It is a balance between writing in comprehensable modern English and giving the right overall tone.