Author Archives: Rebecca Faria

Lapsed poet. Big sister. Cultural blender. Walking thesaurus. Feminist, secular, humanist. Former Yukoner. Volunteer activist and occasional literopath. May or may not be Queen of the Internet.

Sex, Consent and Teenage Boys

Dear Literopathy,

You have arrived in my life at the most perfect time! (Thanks for that).

Here’s my query, I have a 12 year old son. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and researching and (I now know that) whatever is your first thing that turns you on will shape what turns you on for the rest of your life. This is a problem because of all the explicit porn online that kids are exposed to – even if they’re not looking for it. I don’t want my son (or other kids) to have a weird/horrible sex association so I am looking for a book I can give him to read that will do the trick for him (if you know what I mean) and that promotes respectful, consensual, loving and desirous sexual couplings!

Books were my first introduction to the world of sex and all my kids are readers – so – can you suggest something appropriate for a near teenager?

Many thanks!!!



Dear T.G.,

As much as we like sexy books, we’re not comfortable with recommending them for your teenager. We feel strongly that he should have the joy of discovering them himself at his own pace. But wanting your kid to grow into his sexuality in a positive way is commendable, and we do want to help.

It’s understandable to be anxious about how your kid’s sexuality is going to develop, because there’s a lot of terrible information out there for him to stumble across. But alas, you can’t control what he has access to for much longer. And you definitely can’t control what’s going to turn him on when he grows up, or even what’s going to turn him on right now. It’s also too soon for you to know for sure whether he’s straight, gay, or something else entirely. Some kids realize their orientation really early, but others only grow into that knowledge over time.

What you can do is make sure that he gets excellent information about the importance of consent, mutual respect, and healthy masculinity. And not just once; you’re going to want to give him this information over and over in different contexts. A well-selected book can definitely help these conversations along.

Right this moment, your Literopathy prescription is for Mavis Jukes’ The Guy Book: An Owner’s Manual (Maintenance, Safety, and Operating Instructions for Teens) by Mavis Jukes.

The Guy Book has all that necessary information about puberty and changing bodies and safe sex that every teen should have a reference book at hand for. But this book isn’t limited to reproductive health basics. There’s also some really great information about relationships (romantic and otherwise) and how to navigate confusing emotions.

Boys are often discouraged from expressing (and feeling) certain emotions, such as sadness, fear, and anxiety. But we need to get real with each other. Everybody experiences feelings of sadness, vulnerability, lonliness, fear, anxiety, shame, and confusion at one time or another.

Both boys and girls (and men and women) feel all ways: strong and weak, powerful and vulnerable, confident and insecure, courageous and afraid.

These are human feelings. They’re not attached to a particular gender.”

There’s detailed, age-appropriate stuff in here about consent, body image, media literacy, self-care, locker-room talk, and more.

This is your prescription, not just your son’s. Read it yourself before you give it to him, so you can talk about what it’s for and be prepared for any questions he might have about what’s inside.

You might want to make a practice of having a family library of reference books that are available to your kids but haven’t explicitly been given to them. Not just about sex, either. Dinosaurs are awesome. So are memoirs. So is space travel. Wars are not so awesome, but knowing about them is important. So we recommend placing your growing reference collection (however small it is to start) on a shelf they can get at (if you have younger kids pick one that’s too tall for them for any more mature content) and they’ll reach for them when they’re ready. Let their curiosity lead the way.

When you’re ready to start filling out that reference shelf, Jukes has another book called It’s A Girl Thing that may come in handy if your son is curious about what’s going on with the other half of humanity. And when he gets a few years older, Heather Corinna (founder of comprehensive sex-ed site Scarleteen) has written S.E.X.: The All‐you‐need‐to‐know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You through High School and College, which cannot be praised highly enough.

As your son starts exploring his sexuality, he’ll need this kind of foundation knowledge to help him sift through everything available to him and determine what’s true, what appropriate for him, and what he can confidently ignore. Who knows, he may end up being the kid who’s in-the-know and who shares information with his peers that makes them all safer and wiser and more excellent to one another. And wouldn’t that be the most wonderful thing?