Gender and Sexuality
Dr. Stephen Haran
College of Staten Island
It Happened to Nancy tells the story of an adolescent girl as she writes in her diary about an unforgettable, lifealtering experience. Because Nancy is an adolescent, she is learning about her social and sexual role in society while trying to make sense of her sexual feelings for others. Author Beatrice Sparks is a professional counselor who helps children in distress. Sparks published this novel in hopes of helping others avoid the same tragic fate Nancy faced. When comparing what I learned throughout the semester in my Gender Sexuality class to the book
It Happened to Nancy by Beatrice
Sparks, I was able to find many riveting connections between the text and the novel.
According to the text
, children learn a lot about sexuality from their family dynamics and characteristics. Having a strong bond with a parent may reduce the risk of early sexual involvement. Nancy didn’t have a strong bond with either of her parents; therefore, struggling to find herself, Nancy felt alone. Since her parents’ divorce, Nancy lived with her mother. According to Freud’s psychoanalysis theory,
Nancy is in the genital stage; during this stage, teenage girls, intrigued with sex, develop an Electra complex in which they desire their fathers while fearing their mothers.
Nancy’s mother was always away on business and the only time Nancy spent with her father was when she would visit him in Arizona during the summer. Consequently,
Nancy spent the majority of her time alone with her diary. She was intrigued with the idea of the opposite sex, but she knew she was too young; nonetheless, there was something that attracted her to a young man she met ㅡ Collin Eagle.
Nancy first met Collin at a concert when he helped her overcome an asthma attack; they spent the entire night together, learning about each other. Collin is an eighteen year old, first year college student, who lost both of his parents. In one of their conversations, Collin pointed out that he had a sister named Betsy Mae whom reminded him of Nancy because she too had asthma. Nancy and his sister were both fourteen,
Collin’s favorite age for “his girls.” The thought of him referring to Nancy as “his girl” creates the idea that they will become more than just friends. Nancy was excited about her new love interest, but sad that she couldn’t tell anyone. Nancy feared they would let her know that Collin was only around for one thing, and it wasn’t her heart. Believing what she wanted to believe, Nancy thought the two of them were “lonely lost creatures” who needed each other’s support; Collin couldn’t be that kind of guy that would have sex with her, and leave after.
According to the text Human Sexuality, Collin would be considered a
pedophile, a type of paraphilia, since he had an interest in younger girls. He states that he knew Nancy’s age before she even told him; Nancy and Collin are four years apart.
Collin’s interests in Nancy become strange when he started taking her on dates and touching her inappropriately. Nancy, blinded by the idea of receiving love from an older man, couldn’t see through Collin’s facade. She couldn’t see Collin as a cruel person, especially since “he’s been through so much” in his life. Nancy’s love for Collin is what the text categorizes as Mania, the type of rollercoaster love that brings ecstasy for a short period of time then disappears. Nancy adored how he was very interested in her life and hardly spoke about his own, which she found comforting since there was no one to
express her thoughts too. Having sprouted a trust between the two, Collin saw an opportunity to take advantage of Nancy, and he took it.
Feeling comfortable enough to invite Collin over when her mother went
away, Nancy had no