Shut Out, by Kody Keplinger

Kody Keplinger has received a lot of attention for her complicated, thoughtful, sex-positive YA novels. Admittedly, I've only read one of her books, but so far I'm not seeing where this praise is coming from—her 2011 novel Shut Out is neither particularly thoughtful nor complex, and it's only “sex-positive” in the sense that her sexually-active teen characters aren't constantly beset by the pregnancy/marriage/infidelity crises featured on ABC Family shows.

Shut Out is a loose modern retelling of the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata (the story of a group of women who decide to withhold sex until their husbands end the Peloponnesian War). When high school senior Lissa gets fed up with her quarterback boyfriend's obsession with the increasingly dangerous feud between their school's football and soccer teams, she decides it's time to take a stand. United with the other football and soccer girlfriends, Lissa organizes a sex strike, ensuring that no one on either team will be having sex until the boys agree to make peace.

There are some cute ideas and appealing characters in Shut Out, but I couldn't get past the story's huge, crippling central flaw: the sex-strike thing is 100% disturbing and archaic. I could go into a long and lit-geeky rant about novels that limit feminine agency to the right of refusal, but instead I'm going to address this to any young ladies out there who might legitimately think this is worth trying: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T. Look, if your significant other is ignoring you and choosing to do things that you feel are wrong, DUMP THEM. Withholding or having sex in an effort to change someone's behavior is creepy, useless, and—oh, right—manipulative as hell. This kind of crap might have passed for a girl-power story in Ancient Greece, but women have better options now, and if a romantic partner won't listen to you, you can (and should) totally leave.
Posted by: Julianka


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