Today is the anniversary of Betty Boop’s 1930 premiere on television screens everywhere. Betty Boop was first seen on Dizzy Dishes, a Talkertoon series created by Max Fleischer. Fleischer created this sensual female character with her bosom and legs exposed, an extremely provocative character design during this time period.
The inspiration for this character came from a well-known flapper named Esther Jones. Also known as ‘Baby Esther,’ Jones was a black performer and singer in a cotton club in the 1920s. Her trademark was her vocal “boops” and childish behavior in her singing performance.
Despite Betty Boop’s character being sexualized by the public, the cartoon itself put her in danger of being harassed. However, dressing in a revealing way should not be shameful. Now that sex positivity is more embraced in modern times, what would Betty Boop do to embrace her sexiness in this day and age?
To celebrate the anniversary of Betty Boop, here are five sex-positive novels with a feminist twist.
Sex Drive by Dr. Bella Ellwood Clayton
Betty Boop would be fascinated by the conversation this book inspires about female empowerment, sexual desire, and how women are shamed because of it.
Sex drive seems to plummet when in a secure relationship. This novel seeks to answer an important question: Why? Dr. Bella Ellwood argues that the desire for sex will increase if you feel sexy.
Topics that are discussed in this novel are social media and marketing strategies about sexual products for women, helping to relieve the pressure to become an unrealistic version of what sexy is. This book also discusses unrealistic expectations of sex drive. Read this passionate debate of what could be considered a natural response or just sex drive.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Betty Boop would definitely support those who have medical diagnoses due to sex. Because of this, she would read this book and sympathize with the wonderful teen character who is navigating her own experience regarding sex, lust, and the like.
In this book, an HIV-positive teen must learn to grapple with the fear, closure, and acceptance for who she really is in this young adult novel. Simone Garcia-Hampton recently moved to a new school, and she finally has new friends. She is also working to build up confidence in order to talk to Miles, her crush who makes her heart melt. Keeping her diagnosis isn’t so simple. Ever since her last school, being HIV positive is a secret best left under the rug.
But when an anonymous note is found in her locker saying they know about her diagnosis, things take an ugly turn. When the note gives her until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles or the secret is out, who can she turn to?
Simone soon gains insight into the community and the prejudice against HIV. Will she be able to understand more of her journey and face her anonymous hater head-on?
Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney
Put this on Boop’s list! This young adult novel is about an angsty teen who is trying to become their own sexual being. This is Goffney’s second novel about a preacher’s daughter, learning to love herself in a small town in Texas.
Monique detests her religion, specifically the rules. This entire concept of waiting until marriage is ridiculous. No one supports her when she realizes she physically have sex. After two years of trying with her boyfriend, he breaks up with her. She wants to win him back, and church girl Sasha may just be the only person who understands Monique and her condition.
The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh
Betty would definitely read this novel. When sex advice is given, it’s always helpful to know. If you are a fan of Sex Education, this is also a bonus.
Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is giving out sex advice. Yet, she has never kissed anyone and hates to break the rules. She is a straight A student and a music geek at heart. She loves to jam out with her two closest friends, Theo and Evita.
But then, things begin to change. When she notices how the abstinence-only sex education curriculum is affecting her classmates at school, she takes it upon herself to offer wisdom and contraception. But when things with Theo become complex and affects their friendship, she ends up keeping secrets. Not just her clients are seeking sexual advice.
Everybody Else is Perfect by Gabrielle Korn
Betty would enjoy this book about a modern woman trying to empower herself and the women around her through essay-writing pieces.
This book is a compilation of personal and cultural essays based on hot-button topics in Korn’s life. When it comes to women, feminism, beauty expectations, social media, and sexuality ideals, Korn writes about her own experience as a lesbian in New York City. Korn is also the youngest Editor in Chief for a fashion publication.
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