I have been wondering about teens who write fanfiction and more specifically whether teens write stories that are rated “mature” for sexual content. This interest stems from my overall interest in how the internet impacts sexuality and sexual development and also from the fact that when I was young I was an avid fan of several TV shows (and starstuck by the leads) that were popular back then. I can’t help but wonder how large a role fandom would have played in my life had Television Without Pity existed when I was a kid.
From a research standpoint I have taken a very strategic approach to this question through triangulation. I study the impact of the internet on teen sexuality while also investigating adult-authored erotic fanfiction. Eventually, I tell myself, it will be “safe” to actually take a systematic look at how teens use fanfiction to express their sexuality — or at the very least write about sex. But today I simply decided to take a little sneak peek to answer the simple question: Do teens write sexually explicit material and publish it online?
Answer: Of course they do.
In about 15 minutes of exploring a popular fanfiction site, I read one story about Draco giving Harry a blow job and another featuring two characters on the OC having wild sex after a party (red lingerie included). Both stories were allegedly written by 17-year-old women (pictures and “about me” statements included in their bios help validate their claims).
So, what to make of this? Not sure. Should we cringe at the very idea that teens are writing stories that they are banned from purchasing? Or should we celebrate the fact that they are expressing themselves sexually in a relatively safe environment? I mean, you can’t get pregnant or an STD from writing sexy stories now, can you? And at least they are not sending naked pictures of themselves, a crime with potentially serious consequences.
It will be a long while before anyone really pays attention to this phenomenon. But when they do, you can bet adults will be upset. Adults are always upset when they hear stories about teens expressing their sexuality — never mind their sexual desire. And writing fanfiction is all about desire. I just hope that when people realize this is going on, that there are many worse things out there that can actually cause harm.