In a time before the internet, Judy Blume was all the sex education we needed.
As a young girl—ovaries yet to ripen and hymen still in intact—reading Judy Blume books were like porn for me … educational porn. My introduction to sex ed (and Judy Blume) started out innocently enough with menstrual cycles and Kotex pads in the seminal Are You There God It's Me Margaret. From there, I read through the Blume library with a budding libido. Subjects moved on to more risqué topics like masturbation in Deenie (poor girl had scoliosis), boys getting math class erections in Then Again Maybe I Won't (you bet I paid attention to long division after that book), and girl-on-top-sex in Forever (I definitely dog-eared that page). The Frisky: Things We Wish We Knew About Womanhood At Age 18
Since my mom's idea of the Sex Talk was leaving an anatomy picture book between my Baby-Sitters Club and Sleepover Friends series and saying, "Don't have sex until your married," and, "Don't give away the milk for free," I relished the knowledge that Blume's writing offered me. These were the pre-internet days, before I could Google "funny feeling down there" or "penis, hard-on." All I had was my imagination and my canon of Judy Blume books to aid my highly curious pre-teen mind. They were a permanent Sharpie mark on my burgeoning deviant mind. The Frisky: Does The Twilight Series Promote Abstinence?
However, Common Sense Media—an organization that provides parents a guideline to age-appropriate media for children—has targeted these particular books as "iffy." It's a potential roadblock for younger girls and boys who want to read these books, but are monitored by their parents. Recently, Barnes and Noble has partnered with CSM, and these ratings appear on the book retailer's site. For example, CSM cites Are You There God, It's Me Margaret as only appropriate for ages 11+ because the book contains "mentions of Playboy, kissing, menstruation, bras [and] emerging sexuality." Also because "characters lie." Really, is getting your period "iffy"? The Frisky: What's The Dirtiest Book You've Ever Read?
CSM ratings for Forever and Deenie do not appear on Barnes and Nobles' site, but on CSM's website, Forever is deemed appropriate for ages 15-18, and "iffy" because of its highly sexual subject matter: "Katherine has sex with Michael, which is described. Katherine visits Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills—and also has discussion about sex with her mother, grandmother, and best friend. Another character, who has had many sexual partners, gets pregnant and has a baby." The Frisky: MERRIme, A New Web Comedy About Online Dating