With all of the on-screen and off-screen steamy sex scenes, sexual tension, and shipping fodder in the literary world, it’s probably a good thing to know what your character is attracted to and what their romantic/sexual history is. However, fewer writers address what their character knows about sex or how they learned it. Many a YA/children’s book or memoir has been devoted to the awkward stage that is (pre-)puberty and one’s first (attempts at a) sexual encounter, but it seems largely neglected in speculative fiction, save for the occasional body horror story, supernatural transformation/gene/power activation parallel, or anything by Tamora Pierce.
This is especially important in fiction with historical, secondary world, or futuristic settings, as it is a key aspect of life and so a key aspect of worldbuilding. Thus, in the vein of that infamous Hogwarts Sex Ed fanfic and Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, I propose writing a scene in which your characters gets The Talk or a talk or otherwise discovers Their Changing Body and what this whole sex thing is about anyway.
For example, who gave Harry Potter The Talk? The Dursleys? Primary school? Does Hogwarts have a sex ed class that just never came up or are there a bunch of kids running around with no understanding of the human reproductive system other than what they picked up before the age of eleven in muggle schools or homeschooling and what they’ve gleaned from relatives/older students since? What contraception options exist in the Wizarding World besides not marrying into the Weasley family? I thought about this a lot reading the books, as the UU sex ed class is called OWL (Our Whole Lives), so every time they mentioned O.W.L.s, that’s where my mind went.
Or in Avatar: The Last Airbender, who gave Aang The Talk? The monks? Did he even get it yet? Did he have to access his past life Avatar selves to get them to explain it and advise him on how to woo Katara or whether or not bloodbending is a good idea?
And lord help the children at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. That has got to be one weird sex ed class, given how may of their powers can be used for kink or can seriously muddle whether or not a sexual encounter was consensual. What about Gambit? Rogue? Toad? Who is qualified to deal with that can of mutant worms? Do they have a three strike rule on putting your sexual partner into a coma, walking through Iceman’s bedroom walls, or teleporting into the girls’ locker room? A no tolerance rule on the misuse of telepathy? How does one go about reporting mutant sexual harassment and assault?
The comic Sex Criminals does a great job of illustrating how, given the amount of misinformation and ignorance around sex and puberty, someone with supernatural powers may not realize it at first and assume it’s some unspoken part of growing up or becoming sexually active, while someone experiencing something completely normal may think they are a freak or the only person to experience it.
And what about worlds with interspecies or differently aging populations? Shapeshifters? People like Amethyst (in her original comic run) or Captain Marvel/Shazam who age and de-age suddenly? Humanoid aliens who may or may not have compatible genitalia? Whatever the hell consent quagmires are going on in Legend of the Seeker and Elfquest? Enter unreliable narrators or characters not giving their young wards the best advice and the possibilities are endless. And hilarious. Or tragic, depending on where you take it.
Anyway, if any of you care to partake, do feel free to post a link to your results in the comments.