Hi everyone and welcome back to A Kinder Galaxy. Today I’m going to be sharing my first discussion post on a topic I’m incredibly passionate about: ex. You may have seen my twitter thread on this a few weeks ago, but I thought it’d be better if I wrote a whole post on this as I have a lot of thoughts and opinions on the topic.
However, to get us started, I do recommend checking out the twitter thread I wrote first, as it expresses many of the thoughts I have on the topic: https://twitter.com/sissix_rosemary/status/904264873478991872
Now, onto the post.
As a fourteen year old teenager, I have been involved in the internet community since I was twelve. First through a lifestyle blog, then through another one (both of these I pretty much used as online diaries), and then I hopped to wordpress, where I continued the style of blog that I had before but created a goodreads and twitter. I was quickly introduced to the bookish community and it has become a massive part of my life to the point where I can comfortably spend a few hours a day trawling goodreads, wordpress and twitter, meanwhile forgetting about the books that incited me to join it. Oops…
But, as many of you may have noticed, whilst much of the book community is based around YA, much of the community and larger voices are not.
This is of course, the part where I put the disclaimer that I absolutely do not mind adults being part of and enjoying YA. Some of my best friends in the online community are adults, and I can completely understand why so many people love and enjoy YA – although it’s aimed at teens, adults enjoying it is fine. What I’m not fine with is white, allocishet, thirty year old women acting as if they are the leaders of this community and that their opinions are more valid than everyone else’s.
However, it’s not even that. More often than not, adults are the ones boosted and given the most time of day in the community, even though the books are not aimed at them. Adults who enjoy YA complain about how the fifteen year old protagonist in a book is ‘soooo immature’ whilst often forgetting that the protagonist is fifteen and bound to fuck up. Adults regularly talk over teens on teen issues and many teens, including myself, are incredibly annoyed over this.
There’s a little bit of leeway with adults in the 20-25 age group, but many of the ‘big voices’ in YA are older than this, on the cusp or in the mid of their thirties. Teenagers are often excluded and left out of other communities because of their age. I, personally, do not feel comfortable in a lot of other communities because of my age. So to be excluded – deliberately or not – from a community that was born specifically of the purpose to be for teenagers, is honestly horrible and I dislike it a lot.
Earlier this year, I attended a YA event. One of the adults there (who was 24) made jokes about my age that I was highly not ok with and asked why I was there considering my age. Mustering up the courage to go to some of these events are big for me because of my anxiety, so to be treated like the butt of a joke was… Fun.
There’s also the problem that because teenagers are such a small part of the community, adults routinely think that it is ok for them to speak for teens, saying that the community should be for teens and so on. While this is a small amount of help, this erases teens even more and many adults cannot seem to get it through their heads that we are perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves. I cannot count the amount of times that adults have said ‘Listen to teens, the community is for them!’ yet not shown up when marginalized teens have adults harassing them in their mentions or simply refused to boost them or point towards teens that adults should be following.
Many marginalized teens are also at risk of extra harassment from non-marginalized adults. As a white person I won’t be speaking about racism in the community in this post, as it’s not my place, but as a young queer teen, I’ve shared my opinion at times only to have 27 year old adults come into my mentions to call me a f*****t or say that I’m too young to truly know my sexuality. As someone with raging anxiety, this is incredibly distressing and actually led me to shut down my previous twitter, @/slytherinwrite5. Teens are mostly composed of minors, and many can feel even more shut out of the community because of these horrifying acts. I’ve heard tales of marginalized teens being doxxed, having their mentions full of slurs, or being driven out of the community altogether because of the continuous harassment led their way.
Take a moment to consider that, and also every time that you’ve spoken over a teen, or not made sure to check up on them like you do adults. Marginalized adults are targeted as well and also need our support, but teens have the added weight of their age and that many people think they’re overreacting and they need to grow up.
And the final topic of this post: the constant fetishization and dumbing downs of younger teens.
I am definitely a younger teen. I only started counting as one last year, and with many of my friends on twitter and the groups I interact with, I’m often the youngest person there by an incredibly large margin – normally two to four years between me and the other youngest person.
Through this, I have noticed that the language used around young teens is incredibly unsettling and can often border on creepy and fetishing the person’s age, which is incredibly problematic especially when you think about their age and that they’re a minor. Terms like ‘smol bean’, ‘fetus’ and many more I’m commonly referred to as, and while I’m fine with it re: close friends, mutuals that I’ve built a rapport up with. However, literal strangers have called me this on the Internet and it is not ok.
If you’re going to use these words about a younger teen, below the age of 16, ASK THEM FIRST. I literally cannot stress this enough. I was too scared to tell people that I didn’t want to be called that at first, and I highly regret this now as a lot of people I’m not comfortable with now call me this despite the fact that I never gave them my permission. It’s highkey uncomfortable and I don’t like it at all.
Well, there’s my first discussion post! I hope you enjoyed it and please feel free to chat with me in the comments – I love discussing stuff with people 🙂