Flipping through your older sibling’s dirty novels to find the steamy sex scenes becomes a much simpler task for a curious tween when their older sibling reads graphic novels. First, you don’t have to bother reading; you can just see what is happening on each page. And second, graphic novels are full of sex. Sex gets people’s attention.
Miss Don’t Touch Me is a graphic novel that most reviewers would agree is very strange. It is an erotic and gory mystery that uses sex to create an uncomfortable and out of place feeling. The main character in Volume 1 is Blanche. Blanche witnesses the murder of her sister and is working undercover to find the killer. Blanche is considered to be a prude, but in order to find her sister’s killer, she is willing to take a job in a brothel. Blanche is employed as a virgin dominatrix. Blanche is in several situations that don’t entirely make sense: a prude in a brothel and a virgin prostitute. Blanche’s character is used to express societal norms about sex and its relation to identity.
One page in particular expresses these ideas with a single scene. Blanche and the other prostitutes are receiving medical exams to check for STIs. The doctors label her as a virgin and a prostitute within the same scene. This raises several questions for society: what counts as a virgin? A prostitute? What happens when our perceptions of ourselves don’t match with what society has labeled us?
At the bottom of the page, Blanche receives a card stating that she is a prostitute. “I’m a prostitute-it’s written on here,” she says, referring to the card she was just issued. She does not consider herself to be a prostitute because she is undercover and a virgin. By her own standards and definition she is not a prostitute. By societal standards however, she is. Her friend who also works in the brothel tells her, “It’s all right, it’s just a piece of paper.” The prostitutes who are considered to be out of the norm have taken on a deconstructive attitude where they take away the meaning of the cards they are issued. The card represents their taboo place in society, but all that is really is is a piece of paper.
Graphic novels, and other more contemporary forms of literature, use sex to create the intriguing and sometimes uncomfortable feeling that keeps readers interested. The graphic novel does this especially well. When reading the standard novel, we can almost choose not to imagine the images being described, but with the graphic novel, the images are blended in with the words. Graphic novels are much more impactful when it comes to sex and violence.