Social Intercourse

Social Intercourse - Greg  Howard

Beck and Jax suddenly find themselves thrown together when their parents start dating one another and neither is happy about this. Beck is an openly gay guy living in a conservative small town with his single dad after his mother left both of them a few years ago. Jax is the school's star quarterback and son of two moms who recently separated who he's been trying to get back together, so having one of his mothers dating Beck's dad is wrecking that plan. The two boys decide to join forces to split their parents up while also helping put together their town's first Rainbow Prom (It's all part of their plan).

 

Social Intercourse was an engaging read right from the start. It had compelling characters and a plot that kept me reading. There was a lot going on, but it never felt like too much. It's just unfortunate that it has so much rampant unchecked misogyny and biphobia.

 

Beck lets the misogyny out right away when he meets Jax's mother, Tracee. His meeting of her is unfortunate since he walks in on her and his father in an intimate moment. From that point on he refers to her as a thing, a whore, or his favorite, Big Titties. He only starts referring to her by name once he begins bonding with her son. Otherwise, she's not deserving of respect.

 

Then there's the fact that Tracee was married to a woman, but is now dating a man. Jax is insistent on referring to her as a lesbian, despite the fact that he is bisexual and therefore knows that bisexual people exist, and says that she's going to dump Beck's dad because she misses vagina too much. He has one moment of wondering early on if maybe she's bisexual, but that passes and is never thought of again.

 

Jax then gets to face some biphobia of his own at the end of the book.

When he tells Beck he likes him, Beck asks Jax what happens when Jax starts to miss vagina.

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That's not how bisexuality works. The fact that he thinks that's a valid question to ask a bisexual person makes me think that's not the last time Jax is going to hear that.

 

Beck and Jax do some awful things to try to break their parents apart.

In an attempt to make Tracee jealous, they trick JoJo into thinking homophobic bigots have discovered where she lived, followed her home, and thrown a rock into her window so that she'll call a Doris, a cop who likes her. Beck and Jax make her feel unsafe in her own home. Jax watched these bigots make JoJo cry earlier, and now he makes her think they've found her home. That's just so horrible.

(show spoiler)

 

And then Beck tricks Tracee into thinking his dad beats him after learning that would be a dealbreaker for her since Jax was abused by his birth parents before Tracee and JoJo were able to adopt him. There's no thought about how he could be potentially wrecking his dad's life if Tracee reported it. He eventually does come clean about the lie, but to pretend to be abused in the first place is terrible.

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Side characters are pretty flat and stereotypical. Friends exist to just to be supportive of Beck and Jax. Villains are over-the-top homophobic (and sometimes racist) bigots.

The leader of the homophobic church and one of the men who work there are even outed as gay men who are clearly dealing with a ton of internalized homophobia.

(show spoiler)

 

It's honestly impressive that I enjoyed the book as much as I did with everything that happened in the book. The unchecked misogyny and biphobia. The awful actions of Beck and Jax. And some other bits of bigotry that popped up, including a random bit of racism that came from Beck's best friend in the last couple pages that was literally her last line in the book. The writing itself was fun and kept me entertained, but the content also had me cringing a lot or getting angry just as often. And that really cut into my overall enjoyment of the book.