Dirty Dancing; sexuality and young adult literature

There’s a film called Dirty Dancing; you may know of it, you may not.

My rapturous rewatching of it last night made me think of sexuality in literature, in media, and how afraid we are of it. I write about young women finding their place in the world; finding who and what they are going to be, and who they can be. I write about selfhood; about those aching edges of you; of those points where you touch somebody else, and those points when your edges curl up and recoil; I write about edges. 

Dirty Dancing is all about edges, I think, it’s all about an unabashed and perhaps unparalleled exploration of sexuality. It’s about Baby, Frances, and that moment where she suddenly starts to realise who she is. Who she might be.

Who she is when she dances.

baby.gif

I think a lot about dance and movement which is odd for somebody who writes and is devoted to the power of the written word, but movement, I think, is something quite vitally important towards literature. Sexuality is about movement; it’s about raw, breathing movement, it’s about – pauses – and looks, and gaps and absence and togetherness.

Sometimes I think we’re afraid of seeing that on the page; of seeing the arc of the back, the caught-hand, the look.

I think, sometimes, we’re afraid of that – particularly for young women – ; afraid of the hard-edged definiteness that comes with text. Afraid of the role of the gatekeeper, afraid of the reader, afraid of the blunt blunt truth that sometimes comes within story.

I don’t think we should be.

I would like more books that explore that edge of ourselves, please, I would like more books that explore that movement, that live on the space beyond a touch, beyond a breath.

I would like there to be more books that help us to learn how to fly.

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2 thoughts on “Dirty Dancing; sexuality and young adult literature

  1. I think we’re afraid of the effect of unrequited or at the very least I’ll-matched love on those young women we love – think Ophelia

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