I did get that impression from our conversation. When I told her that the book passage depicting an adolescent boy masturbating while thinking of an adult woman’s physical anatomy (with descriptions) presented the objectification of women in a positive way, she protested strongly that he loved and deeply admired that woman. It was not degrading to her but a reflection of how much this woman had impacted his life and he was NOT treating her as an object.
So says an adult woman presenting sexually explicit content to adolescent children.
However, I believe that it runs deeper than sexuality for this person. It is not just skewed sexuality that she wishes to share her fascination with, but also other aspects of the fallen side of human nature. Violence, murder, etc. She has a rather negative view of what it ultimately means to be human, and the books she has chosen thus far present those views as if they are unavoidable.
It is much like the arguments many people have presented here that posit that these children will experience this stuff in their own lives and probably already have and so it would be wrong to avoid these books. That argument has the flavor of fatalism and capitulation that is often the fastest way to lose a culture war. Fight back people! No matter how common criminal behavior may become do not accept it as a foregone conclusion! We were made for more, to be more, and so we should expect more! Every act of violence or sexual exploitation perpetuated against any human should be treated as an outrage, not as if it is a part of day to day life. That attitude helps no one.
My daughter is reading a non fiction book in that class now about the lobotomy of Rosemary Kennedy. It is an ugly story. It includes the promiscuity of her father, her parent’s embarrassment with her mental limitations, etc. It is a true story. It is ugly.
Can there be value in reflecting on these things? Of course—knowledge of history helps us to Never Go There Again, if we use it wisely. But first, let us present to these young kids what a human person can aspire to be! What nobility and goodness and truth look like. Then, with that lens, it is possible to explore these distortions in light of truth and know them for what they are, and most importantly, know that there is, in fact, an attainable alternative that can be embraced.
I have been in literature classes and I have been in book clubs. Not all books are literature, in the deeper sense of the term. (Written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting merit.) These books remind me more of the book clubs I’ve been in, and less of the literature classes.