C.K. Kelly Martin's Blog, page 3

November 29, 2013

It's not quite December yet and this morning the temperature felt like -16 degrees Celsius in the GTA. Brrrr. One exceptionally chilly February snow day years ago I industriously went out with my camera and took some photographs of the excessive amounts of snow in the area. Well, I took some snaps until either my camera or the batteries stopped working because of the cold. Anyway, I'm actually pretty much the same way; I don't function well in the cold. I was probably only outside for about three minutes this morning before my eyes started streaming. Generally my whole body tightens up, wanting to close in on itself in a futile attempt to keep warm, whenever I'm out walking in winter. Maybe my genetically Irish cells would naturally prefer more moderate temperatures?? I don't know. But I'm happy to be indoors again and happy that it's a gorgeous bright day. When the days are so short we really need the light whenever we can get it!

Because I have this bonus time I want to share a few lovely reviews my books have gotten lately, as well as photos the organizer of the Oakville Defend Our Climate rally sent along of our local protest. I'm the one with the Canadian flag style sign.

Defend Our Climate. Oakville rally
Defend Our Climate. Oakville rall
On November 16th this is what the Defend Our Climate
movement looked like across Canada:

And the fight continues! In Washington-based Center for Global Development's assessment of 27 wealthy nations Canada came dead last when it comes to environmental protection. Also, for the second year in a row Canada has placed near to last in Germanwatch�s Climate Change Performance Index with only Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Iran behind us. We have a hell of a lot of work to do to dig ourselves out of this hole!
Finally, here are links to three reviews from the past couple of weeks which I'm extremely grateful for:
Ivy Book Bindings on Come See About Me: �From beginning to end, this book drowns you in a sea of complex emotions, its prose evocative and strangely compelling, despite its subject matter. Moreover, while Martin's stark realism can be difficult to swallow at times, it is a much appreciated slap into reality. Come See About Me won't be a book for everyone, but as a reader who actively seeks gritty novels that are deserving of their "realistic" tag line, this novel was a godsend.�
Frampton Books on Yesterday: �With an engaging and vivid writing style and multi-layered plot Yesterday is a far more accomplished novel than some of it�s more well-known contemporaries and deserves to be read by a larger (and older!) audience.�
CM Magazine on Tomorrow (Yesterday Book #2): �Martin obviously understands intrigue and knows how to construct a story that leaves readers wanting more with each passing chapter. She also manages to cover difficult and nuanced topics of sexuality and race, as well as environmental destruction and international warfare, with a light touch. �
I can't tell you how thrilled I am that CM Magazine has called Tomorrow �Highly Recommended� and �very much worth seeking out.� Just thinking about it could almost keep outdoor cold from hunching me into my ordinarily tense posture.
And now I'm going to get down to writing while there's still some sun in the sky to power my efforts. Happy Friday!
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Published on November 29, 2013 09:45 • 46 views

November 14, 2013

When I grew up there were alot of TV commercials and school messages about the dangers of littering. The below is an American PSA we'd also catch up here in Canada that'll give you an idea about the focus.

So, okay, leaving your pop cans and candy wrappers lying around forests and stuff was a bad thing. We learned that. What we didn't learn about was the potential for human activities to wreak havoc on longterm weather patterns, putting human lives and the lives of numerous other earth species in jeopardy. And most of us still live our lives as though we don't know that's happening. It's a terrifying thing that we don't want to focus on and/or feel helpless to change. I feel the same. What can I do? I put my name to environmental petitions, I recycle, don't own my own car, I replaced my old lightbulbs with supposedly more environmentally friendly ones when that idea became all the rage (it may not have been such a smart one after all because it turns out Canada's "mercury-waste facilities are either patchwork or non-existent" but that's another story).

But when it comes down to it, what can I do that will make a real difference? I don't have great power or influence. Probably not even medium power or influence. And I'm certainly not single-handedly saving the planet by taking my Coke cans and old newspapers down to the apartment's recycling room.

So what does change things? Mass pressure on the politicians and corporations who possess real power. Right now those people don't believe enough of us are concerned about things like climate change, pipelines running through our communities and the destruction of ecosystems to warrant changing our society's toxic ways. There will be more hurricanes like Sandy and typhoons like Haiyan. Greater and greater disasters occurring with more frequency, if we don't make our voices heard on the issue of climate change now.

One way you can make your voice heard is to take part in one of the over a hundred Defend Our Climate rallies happening in communities across Canada on Saturday, November 16th. Stephen Harper and the Conservative party have had their heads buried in the {dirty oil} sands long enough. It's time for Canada to wake up to reality.

I'll be outside my local MP's office with a sign in my hand on Saturday...but it will mean so much more if you're there too!

On November 16, 2013 thousands of Canadians are coming together to Defend Our Climate Defend Our Communities
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Published on November 14, 2013 09:58 • 34 views

October 31, 2013

Given the current Senate scandal I felt compelled to drag this image I created back in May, 2008 back onto the blog. Let's face it, the photo's been applicable countless times since Stephen Harper became Prime Minister in 2006. But since a recent poll shows 40% of Canadians surveyed believe Senator Mike Duffy�s story while only 18% believe Steve-o's version (and 37% don't believe either of them), the picture seems especially apt at the moment.

Pinocchio Harper gives the thumbs up
Happy Halloween, Steve-o! Can I suggest drowning your dirty politican woes in a tub of Mars bars this evening? And maybe find a mask that can cover up that telltale honker, at least for tonight.
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Published on October 31, 2013 14:08 • 25 views

October 21, 2013

Back in May I was thrilled to read and blurb Gina Linko's second book, Indigo. Now that it's out (Happy release day, Gina & Indigo!) - I want to take the opportunity to gush about it, starting with the blurb I wrote last spring:
"Gina Linko has the touch. Indigo is a compelling mixture of vulnerability and mysticism with a lush romantic core. Readers will connect with Corrine's emotional journey and relish the magnetic scenes between Corrine and Rennick."
Indigo by Gina Linko
When Corrine moves to New Orleans with her family after the death of her young sister, she brings with her a heavy guilt that has her "quarantining" herself so that she won't hurt anyone else. She knows...or thinks she knows...that it was her other-worldly, electrically charged touch that accidentally killed Sophie after her fall. The trouble is that it's not so easy to shut out the world.
Corrine's drawn into new friendships, even as a big part of her wants to recoil. New Orleans, a land of mystery and magic, is the perfect setting for Corrine to grapple with the blue light�the current�that surges through her at times. Is it a coincidence or is it Corrine's presence that stops her friend Mia-Joy's insulin pump from working? And how she can draw images of people she's never met simply from listening to taped interviews with local senior citizens her mother has been recording ?
The unfolding mystery is rich like dark chocolate, wonderfully written with a varied cast of well-drawn characters, both major and minor. I will admit a special fondness for Rennick, who is both full of curiosity about Corrinne and full of his own mysteries. The slow-burning romance between the two seamlessly blends Corrinne's emotional state with her exploration of her powers.
Indigo contains enough realism and depth that it will appeal to readers who aren't ordinarily keen on books with paranormal elements as well as diehard fans of the genre. I'm betting it will win Gina Linko a whole new crowd of readers. You can pick Indigo up in bookstores and from internet retailers today.
Watch the trailer:
Excerpt from Chapter 5:
"You listen to me," he said gruffly, pointing at me. "I'm going to knock on that door and wake up your parents, tell them I found you ready to hop a train, if you don't give me a few minutes here." He looked at me hard, threatening me, although I could see the apology in the shake of his head. But it was what it was.

I knew he would knock on the door. I knew he would, so I just gritted my teeth. "Tell me what you know."

I met his eyes briefly. The moon was low in the sky, a tiny crescent, a thumbnail, as Sophie used to say. It was an inky night, with very little light, especially in the back of my house, next to the hydrangeas and the electric meter. And, of course, right beneath the window of my parents' bedroom.

I listened to the hum of the crickets and toads as Rennick gathered himself. He rubbed his hand across his forehead nervously, and he started to say something twice but stopped himself again. I softened toward him for a second when I realized exactly when he seemed so different from anyone else in New Orleans. It was because he treated me normally. Like people did back in Chicago, back before everything. Easy. Normal. Everyday.
Here in New Orleans, I was not a real person. I was a freak, a weirdo. No one treated me like Corrine. I was a story. The sideways glances. The whispers. I deserved it.
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Published on October 21, 2013 22:30 • 27 views

October 6, 2013

If you're curious about what happened to Freya & Garren after Yesterday, stop by the Tomorrow blog tour running October 7th to 18th for all sorts of info on the book. But Tomorrow also functions as a standalone sci-fi thriller so you can jump straight into the action!

You can now purchase e-copies of Tomorrow from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca and other Amazon stores. Paperbacks are also available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, various other Amazons and Createspace. Epubs can currently be downloaded from Smashwords. Epubs will also be available from Kobo, the Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Noble and other outlets within the next couple of weeks (to get the book into these venders' shops I have to use aggregator Smashwords which is a slightly slower process).

Click the below banner for a chance to win the tour grand prize of signed paperbacks of Tomorrow and Yesterday + a $30 Amazon Gift Card at the Itching for Books blog. One runner-up will also win signed paperback copies of Yesterday and Tomorrow. Contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada ONLY but I'm also running a Goodreads contest (draw date is October 10th) that residents of the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and the U.S. can enter.
Tomorrow Tour: Oct 7 - 18
Here's the full tour schedule:
October 7th
The Passionate Bookworm Review and Favorite QuotesRose & Beps Blog BlurbFalling For YA Interview
October 8th The Book Town Review and Favorite QuotesScott Reads It! Guest PostCurling Up With A Good Book Interview
October 9th Coffee, Books and Me Guest PostYA Books of Witchcraft and Wizardry ReviewKimberly's Novel Notes Review and Excerpt (blogger's choice)
October 10th Words, Words, Words Guest PostFaerie Tale Books Review and Excerpt (blogger's choice)Addicted Readers Blurb and Excerpt (blogger's choice)
October 11th Turning the Pages ReviewLeisure Reads Guest Post
October 14th Literary Meanderings InterviewMother/Gamer/Writer Review and Playlist (blogger's choice)Musings of a Blogder ReviewAngee's After Thoughts Blurb and Excerpt (blogger's choice)
October 15th The Wonderings of One Person Review  and Excerpt (blogger's choice)The Book Cellar InterviewSuch A Novel Idea Review and Excerpt (blogger's choice)
October 16th Piper Interview and ReviewA Dream Within A Dream ReviewDiayll Sales Blurb and Excerpt (blogger's choice)
October 17th Please Another Book Review and Excerpt (blogger's choice)Dalene's Book Reviews Guest Post
October 18th Book- Marks The Spot ReviewOnce Upon a YA Book Review and Excerpt (blogger's choice)
Thanks, Shane (Itching for Books), for putting together such a fantastic tour!
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Published on October 06, 2013 15:09 • 38 views

September 24, 2013

I'm still mourning the end of the Toronto International Film � the eleven days in September when Toronto feels like the centre of the universe and when all the fun helps us forget that summer's drawing to a close. Toronto is truly at its best during the festival. So much buzz in the air. Walking from the Lightbox around the corner to Roy Thompson Hall around 8:15 pm on the evening of the seventh there were so many summery, excited folks in the street enjoying the atmosphere, celeb watching or in line for movies that it felt dreamlike.

This year I had the good fortune to catch six films: Words and Pictures, Philomena, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Tracks, Stay and Sunshine on Leith.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Q & A, Elgin theatre, TIFF,
 The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Q & A, Elgin theatre, TIFF,
September 10, 2013
Watch the Q & A:   Tracks Q & A, Elgin theatre, TIFF, September 10, 2013 Tracks Q & A, Elgin theatre, TIFF, September 10, 2013   Waiting for the Sunshine on Leith showing, Bloor Hot Docs
Cinema, September 14, 2013, TIFF Sunshine on Leith trailer:   Sad as I am that the festival's over, it's absence has given me the chance to catch up on some other things. Like spending time outdoors.  Wye Marsh, Midland, September 22, 2013   Wye Marsh, Midland, September 22, 2013 I'm also still putting in hours at my old office job, working out of my former cubicle, funnily enough. And of course I'm gearing up for the upcoming Tomorrow blog tour (thanks to Shane at Itching for Books for doing such a fab job of assembling the tour!). You can click the below banner for info on all the stops. I hope you'll drop in somewhere along the route to find out more about Tomorrow and say hello!  Tomorrow Tour: Oct 7 - 18 I've got double-sided bookmarks ready for Tomorrow's release    and if you'd like a chance to win signed copies of Yesterday and Tomorrow, there are two weeks left to enter the Goodreads giveaway (open to residents of Canada, U.S.A, U.K, Ireland and Australia).
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Goodreads Book Giveaway Tomorrow by C.K. Kelly Martin Tomorrow by C.K. Kelly Martin Giveaway ends October 10, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter to win
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Published on September 24, 2013 12:12 • 130 views

September 2, 2013

I didn't intend to skip a whopping six weeks between blog entries but life is unpredictable. Between readying the Yesterday sequel for publication and other things that got in the way of blogging, well, here we are in September. There were some tough things about this summer that I can't really talk about because they're not mine to tell, but there were also fun nights out at the wind orchestra in an Oakville park, gelato-based outings and two trips to the CNE. The first time Paddy and I climbed on a bunch of amusement rides and got ourselves pretty dizzy, but I'm telling you, you couldn't pay me to ride the Mach 3. That thing looks INSANE. If you're wondering what I'm talking, about here's a clip of the same ride taken in Winnipeg:
I'm also doing a bit of work at my old office for the next while, filling in for folks on vacation, and now that the Toronto Film Festival's just days away I'll likely be disappearing from the Internet again for a bit. But before I disappear into movieland and my office cubicle, I wanted to announce the upcoming blog tour for Tomorrow which Shane (thanks, Shane!) at Itching for Books has been doing an awesome job of putting together. Click below for details:
Tomorrow Tour: Oct 7 - 18
Meanwhile I'm holding a Yesterday + Tomorrow giveaway at Goodreads to celebrate the paperback release of Yesterday on September 10th and Tomorrow's October 10th release. Residents of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia can enter to win signed copies of both books.
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Goodreads Book Giveaway Tomorrow by C.K. Kelly Martin Tomorrow by C.K. Kelly Martin Giveaway ends October 10, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter to win
I hope your own summer has been more of the fun parts and less of the tough ones! Personally, I'm also hoping for a September that feels more like summer than fall. I'm not ready to give up long evening walks by the lake with gelato in hand just yet.
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Published on September 02, 2013 17:28 • 45 views

July 18, 2013

So said Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. And Freya Kallas and Garren Lowe from my sci-fi thriller Yesterday are counting on it!

Yes, it's finally time to talk about Tomorrow: the sequel to Yesterday. I couldn't say much about it before because until recently the nature of its future was uncertain. But I started writing the sequel last April and have been finished a draft for some time now. Ultimately Random House decided Yesterday's sales didn't warrant a sequel but I still absolutely believe in Freya and Garren's continuing story. So I'm moving forward with it and will be sliding into the editing stage soon and releasing Tomorrow sometime in October, 2013.

In the meantime you can put it on your TBR list at Goodreads and check out the trailer:

And this is what the cover's going to look like:
Tomorrow by C. K. Kelly Martin
Hope you like it!
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Published on July 18, 2013 08:38 • 124 views

July 10, 2013

So, Toronto typically gets about 75 millimetres of rain during the entire month of July but on Monday 90 millimetres of rainfall was recorded in just two hours at Toronto's Pearson Airport. And there I was last week complaining about the Irish rain�in particular the day we got drenched at Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Now, when I say drenched I mean, yes, it was raining and we were tromping around outside for hours so we got wet. And, yes, it was windy too and only 12 degrees Celsius up at Giant's Causeway. But the rain was entirely normal and unremarkable in comparison to what we got hit with here two days ago so the next time someone hears me complaining about Irish weather, please remind me to get a grip, okay?  Usually Irish rain, which is indeed pretty persistent, is more drizzle than deluge. Much easier to deal with really. But Environment Canada and the Weather Network warned us that it was going to be a wet and wild summer for Toronto (lots of thunderstorms) and so far it looks like they're right. There's a severe thunderstorm warning in effect right now in fact. Dare I say I'm already starting to miss the cooler Irish temperatures and near constantly overcast days?  Since the contemporary YA manuscript I just finished is set mostly in Ireland I actually feel as if I'd been there for longer than two weeks. I hope to be able to share more information re. that book in not too long. Not to mention the Yesterday sequel, Tomorrow! In the meantime here are some photos from my time in Ireland.

Tower Records, Dublin. Losing myself in the stacks.
Tower Records, Wicklow Street, Dublin
Out in Malahide on a grey day.
Malahide, July 2013
Malahide, July 2013
I picked up a couple novels in the below Malahide bookstore. There's also a bookshop called Village Books a couple of blocks away.
Manor Books, Malahide, July 2013
Dublin Pride Parade: June 29, 2013.
O'Connell Street, Dublin Pride Parade: June 29, 2013.
O'Connell Street, Dublin Pride Parade: June 29, 2013.
Summer days are long in Dublin (longer than they are in Toronto) so this low hanging sun over South King Street doesn't mean darkness is right around the corner. The sun set will be blissfully s-l-o-w.
South King Street, Dublin
Our wettest day in Dublin was the one where we set off for Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Take a look out this window and it'll give you an idea of how the day felt.

Approaching the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, July 2, 201
We heard the employees over their walkies talking about how they were probably going to have to close the rope bridge soon so had to hurry across and then back again. I'm not gonna lie, the flimsy look of the thing in combination with the wind made me a little nervous as I dashed across. The rain poncho I bought on site acted like a kite, which didn't help. But the area is gorgeous, rain or shine.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, July 2, 2013
As was Giant's Causeway. Walking on the long path down to the rock formations, my poncho blustering in all directions and my hair and jeans soaked, I lost it and doubled over with hysterical laughter re. the nastiness of the day, which got Paddy laughing nearly as badly. You'll note the rain spots on my camera lens in some of my shots below.
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, July 2, 2013
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, July 2, 2013
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, July 2, 2013
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, July 2, 2013
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, July 2, 2013

Dunluce Castle ruins, Northern Ireland
Dunluce Castle ruins, Northern Ireland, July 2, 2013
Dunluce Castle ruins, Northern Ireland, July 2, 2013
Thankfully the next day back in County Dublin was much nicer and we went out to Malahide Castle with family. They don't allow you to take pictures inside but the guided tour of the castle is well worth it, and the grounds are lovely. While you're there don't miss out on the Avoca Café which is expensive but offers scrumptious meals.
Malahide Castle, July 3, 2013
Malahide Castle grounds, July 3, 2013
Malahide Castle grounds, July  3, 2013
Malahide Castle grounds, July 3, 2013
Malahide Castle grounds, July 3, 2013
Malahide Castle, July 3, 2013
Irish pint in an Irish pub, July 3rd, 2013
The Porterhouse Brewing Co, Pint, Dublin  Pub, July 3, 2013
Treats in Bewley's Café (Grafton Street) window.
Bewley's Cafe, Dublin, Julyy 2013
I never realized that you could sit outside on the third floor ( Irish and English folks would count it as the second floor) but sure enough you can spy people up there.
Bewley's Cafe, Grafton Street, Dublin, July 2013
And the evening we dropped into Bewleys it was crowded
so guess where we headed?
Grafton Street from Bewley's Cafe, Dublin, July 4, 2013
Here's Paddy's snack: a pear and almond tart & coffee.
Bewley's Cafe, Dublin, July 4, 2013
And mine: cupcake with sparkling pink lemonade.Bewley's Cafe, Dublin, July 4, 2013
Finally, they're currently repaving Grafton Street sections at a time. The stones were intended to last twenty years and have now been there for thirty. The walled off sections being worked on had old photos of Grafton Street hanging on it.
Grafton Street, Dublin
Here's my present day shot of the same stretch of road, which brings to mind the Simon and Garfunkel lyric, �After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.� Dublin, after changes upon changes, is still Dublin.
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Published on July 10, 2013 13:50 • 179 views

June 20, 2013

I'm heading off to the airport in about four hours (and afterwards will be mostly offline for the next two weeks while away) and didn't intend to write a blog entry today. Then, thanks to writer Neesha Meminger, I read the following article in The Telegraph
* Honest sex scenes in books will stop teens learning from porn, Malorie Blackman says 
Malorie Blackman, Young adult writer and newly-appointed children's laureate for the United Kingdom told the British newspaper, "I was reading an article three weeks ago where this teenage girl was saying everything her boyfriend knew about sex he knew from porn. He was brutalising her, because that's what he thought sex was about from watching online. It made me angry and it made me sad. I thought well, this is exactly why we need not just sex education in schools but also books that tackle the subject of relationships and your first time. Otherwise teens and young adults will get their information from somewhere and in this case it was getting it from porn. I would rather my daughter read about a loving sexual relationship in a book�whether it works or whether it doesn't�but in that context, than getting her information from innuendo and from porn and the rest of it."
I'm mentioning Malorie Blackman's stance because as a young adult writer this subject is something I've given a lot of thought to over the years. Shortly after I began writing for teens I also began haunting comprehensive sex ed website Scarleteen to delve into how teen sexual relationships and issues had changed since I was a young person. I also read and continue to read as much other information on young people's sexuality as I can�studies, articles, books like Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, and Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture.
There have been some great strides made in Canadian society since I went to high school in the eighties. I never saw a pregnant girl at my Catholic High school the entire time I was there. No one felt free to be gay and out either. Unwed pregnancy and homosexuality were generally things to be shoved into the closet. Since then gay marriage has been legalized in Canada and several other countries, and we've been moving away from vilifying pregnant teenagers. There's still progress to be made in these areas, but at least we're heading in the right direction.
However, there are other areas of society where this is not the case. One negative thing my generation didn't have to deal with as teenagers was the ubiquitous presence of hardcore pornography based on cruelty and the humiliation of women and girls. Those hardcore materials existed, yes, but not within easy reach and unlimited access twenty-four hours a day. The much more common pornography of the day was pictures of naked women in Playboy or Penthouse magazines, exponentially tamer stuff than the majority of pornography accessed over the internet today.
There is evidence that suggests the developing teenage brain is especially susceptible to some of the long term effects of pornography. A recent Toronto Star article called Is pornography changing how teens view sex? cites experts who believe the use of porn among teenagers is impacting their notions of normal sexual behaviour and their views on women.
But first of all, what is pornography like today?
"In a 2010 analysis of 50 randomly selected adult films, researchers found high levels of verbal and physical aggression. Of the 304 scenes analyzed, 88 per cent contained physical aggression, including spanking, gagging and slapping, while nearly 50 per cent contained verbal abuse, particularly name-calling. In most cases, the men were dominant and the women almost always responded neutrally or with pleasure. Only 10 per cent of scenes contained positive sexual behaviour."
"A study of male undergraduates found that nearly a quarter of them admitted they had acted sexually aggressively on a date, causing their date to cry, scream or plead." While official rape statistics are down in the U.S. there is some evidence to suggest that this may be due to shifting perceptions about what constitutes rape. "Almost 75% of women whose experience meets the legal definition of rape don't recognize themselves as victims. In the same survey, one in 12 men admitted to acting in ways that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, but 84% of them said what they did was "definitely not rape."
Robert Jensen, author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity asks the question "If contemporary porn shows scenes that are cruel, degrading and violent to women, how does that affect the perception of those who are raping and being raped? Do they become more accepting of acts that would be deemed rape years ago? It could be that porn is shifting the way we even understand the term rape."
A three year long 2011 U.S. based study of 10-15 year-olds showed that those who watched violent X-rated material were six times more likely to self-report sexually aggressive behaviour. In the United Kingdom The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children reports that the Number of sex offences by people under the age of 18 has risen 38% since 2009/10. Claire Lilley, policy adviser at the NSPCC said: 'We hope our findings will ring alarm bells with the authorities that this is a problem which needs urgent attention…While more research needs to be done on this problem, we know that technology and easy access to sexual material is warping young people's views of what is normal or acceptable behaviour."
Here are some quotes from fifteen and sixteen year-old British teenage girls I pulled from a 2010 article about teenage boys and internet pornography:

* "Boys just want us to do all the stuff they see the porn stars do. It's as if we have to pretend we are in a movie. They want us to dress like porn stars in sexy underwear, have bodies that look like porn stars, and sound and behave like them too when we are alone. That's why we like to have our friends around us now."

* "It makes me feel so unhappy to be even asked about this stuff by a boy. So I try not to be alone with a boyfriend any more, to have a third wheel whenever I can."

* "I wish my parents would say I'm not allowed to be home alone with a boy. I wish they'd say boys aren't allowed in my bedroom. They make this big deal about 'trusting us', but that's not helping me. They have no idea what goes on, and I'm too embarrassed to tell them."

* [My boyfriend] even starts talking as if he's in a movie. Suddenly, when we are being intimate, he'll say something that he must have heard in a porn film. For example, he'll call me a 'bitch' and use dirty language that he'd never use normally. It's awful. It's so obvious he's copying his actions from watching porn."
There are, of course, other articles and studies that refute hardcore pornography's influence on teenagers. One that is often referred to is a recent study which looked at 4,600 people 15 - 25 living in the Netherlands and concluded that only between 0.3 percent and 4 percent of the sexual behaviors in question could be attributed to pornography use. If the United States, Britain and Canada were on a par with the Netherlands regarding sex education and positive attitudes about sexuality, I might agree that internet pornography's influence on young people in these countries would be similarly limited. But in my own province of Ontario, where sexual harassment at school is rampant, the sex ed curriculum is fifteen years old (shameful!).

So as things stand I'm in agreement with the article Talking to Teens about Pornography over at Everyday Health. It points out that the Netherlands, is "leaps and bounds ahead of the United States when it comes to sex education. They have a dramatically lower teen birth rate, as well as a lower abortion rate and a lower incidence of STDs. Much of this can be attributed to their behavior regarding sexuality. While our country still struggles to keep comprehensive sex education in schools, students in the Netherlands feel safe discussing sex openly with their teachers and parents. Rather than viewing sex as dirty or shameful, they tend to take a more open and positive view of their bodies and sexuality. It's a distinct cultural difference and one that should be taken into account when discussing this study and pornography, because for many American teens, pornography is all they ever learn about sex."
As hardcore pornography isn't likely to disappear or shift away from negative images anytime soon, it's crucial that parents and schools provide young men and women with good progressive sex education, allowing them to cope with the hardcore messages and images they're inevitably exposed to (average age of first internet porn exposure = 11), and countering those with information on what a genuinely positive sexual relationship should look and feel like. We can't inoculate teenagers against the negative impact of pornography with an injection but the Netherlands study shows that we can accomplish that result with sex education and healthy societal views on sex. Like Malorie Blackman, I feel young adult literature has a responsibility here. It can and should play a role, reflecting realistic sexual experiences, both good and bad and thereby allowing teenagers to process aspects of the experiences before they are ready to engage in sex themselves. If you are writing young adult books that don't fade to black when it comes to sex scenes and if you're handling those scenes with honesty, without being exploitive, and neither glorifying sex nor demonizing it, you are already personally my favourite kind of YA writer. But more importantly, you're helping empower young people who are living in a highly sexually charged culture.
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Published on June 20, 2013 13:08 • 135 views