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All About S.E.X.: The Scarleteen Book!

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Get your hands on S.E.X.: the in-depth and inclusive teen and young adult sexuality book by Heather Corinna! Covering everything from STIs to sexual orientation, body image to birth control, masturbation to misogyny, the anatomy of the clitoris to considering cohabitation, and written for you whether you're male, female or genderqueer; straight, gay or somewhere in between, this is the everything-you-need, comprehensive, progressive sexuality guide to get you through high school, college and maybe even the rest of your sex life.

Want a copy? You've got loads of options. You can order it from:

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Short on cash? Here are an awful lot of U.S. libraries carrying a copy. Or, if you're a teen or young adult who is low-income and in need of a copy, you can email us and we'll put you on the waiting list for a donated book.

Weighing in at 336 extra-wide pages (but soft enough to roll into your backpack), and the culmination of around five years of work, S.E.X. leaves no stone unturned. Complete guides to making sexual choices, figuring out working relationship models, gender and sexual orientation, birth control methods, reproductive options for unplanned pregnancy, safer sex practice and sexual activities, sexual anatomy, sexual response and sexual healthcare are included, tailored specifically to young adults needs today. S.E.X. doesn't presume there is one right set of choices for all teens and young adults: what it aims to do is to give you all the information to make YOU the sexpert, so that you can spell out what the right, informed choices are just for you.

Want to check out the Table of Contents and excerpts from the book? Click here! Want to find out more about the author?


Praise for S.E.X.

"The book that I like most for high school kids is by Heather Corinna. [It] S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College [in the family resources list at the back of Talk to Me First] It's very straightforward and provides lots and lots of information, but it talks about how that particular information relates to relationship issues or values or communication issues. That's what kids need more than anything." - Deborah Roffman, author, Sex and Senisibility and Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids' 'Go-To' Person About Sex.

"The Our Bodies, Ourselves for the MySpace generation, this book by the founder of sex ed website Scarleteen.com is a comprehensive course in sexuality and sexual health for teens of any orientation and their parents, teachers and counselors. Beginning with a thorough anatomy lesson that includes boy and girl parts by both their scientific and slang terms, the book goes on to conquer topics including body image, relationships, STDs, sexual abuse and harassment, and pregnancy and family planning. For teens of any gender or orientation (there’s a great chapter devoted to that, too), this book is the all-knowing, non-judgmental older sibling everyone wished they had. Unlike too many books on teen sexuality, this one avoids abstinence-only dogma, and includes explanations and even technical advice on everything from French kissing to BDSM — along with each activity’s risk factor for pregnancy and STDs. I was especially impressed with the unbiased chapter on teen pregnancy and parenting, which explains that it’s not universally an accident, mistake or life sentence to misery and poverty. While it does dutifully examine the challenges of parenting, this non-pedantic, just-the-facts approach could be life-changing for ostracized and shamed teen mothers. In a society that all too often scolds and belittles teenagers often deserving of more credit, S.E.X. is revolutionary." - Curve Magazine

"'S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College.'... covers body basics for boys and girls, as well as sexual identity, masturbation, body image, contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and the emotional repercussions of making sexual decisions... The book is full of the kind of humor that makes Scarleteen so readable, with subchapters like "Get the Ball Rolling" and "10 Bodacious Ways to Boost Body Image" and "Genderpalooza! A Sex and Gender Primer."

[Joan] Schrammeck sees it as "Our Bodies, Ourselves" for the next generation. "This is another groundbreaking book and what we love is that it's woman-centered," she said. "It's boldly feminist.'" - Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 13th, 2007

"Corinna has put together a blockbuster of a book for young people dealing with sex and relationships. Much like the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves and its spinoffs, Corinna answers every possible question teens and young adults could have about virginity, puberty, pregnancy, body image, masturbation, sexual identity, the variety of relationships, and the mechanics of partnered sex. She also addresses topics that are often overlooked, e.g., transgender and intergender identities, realistic teen relationship management skills, and pornography. An excellent resource for preteens, teens, young adults, and people working with these populations; highly recommended for most libraries." - Deborah Bigelow, Library Journal

"Not only would my own adolescence have been vastly less painful and confusing if I'd had access to the accurate, comprehensive, and above all nonjudgmental information that Heather Corinna so carefully provides, but S.E.X. is, literally, a lifesaving book: Corinna's vast commonsense wisdom--especially on topics relating to gender roles, queer sexuality, and gender identities--has the potential to improve the physical and emotional health of anyone who reads it, and to help heal our culture's unhealthy, conflicted approaches to sex, sexuality, and gender."- Lisa Jervis, cofounder, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture

"Sexpert Heather Corinna is the big sis you wish you'd had when you were a confused, pimply teen. Better late than never: S.E.X. gives you the lowdown on gettin' down without talking down to you. Corinna's had a lot of practice as the impassioned empowering voice behind...the straight-up, sex-ed-for-teens site scarleteen.com. Geared towards 16-22-year-olds of any gender, S.E.X. covers the niuts and bolts of anatomy in a tone that's conversational, not cutesy. There is also plenty of value for old dawgs (like the checklist of unhealthy post-breakup behavior). In a segment titled "Ten Bodacious Ways to Boost Body Image," Corinna put such a compelling spin on "looks aren't everything" that I felt my eyes tearing up. But it's her holistic approach and deft handling of other heavy topics, from eating disorders to abuse, that make this book a must-read." Bust Magazine, June/July '07

""S.E.X." itself is revolutionary as a feminist, GLBT-friendly and overall progressive collection of sexual education material. It offers an alternative and uplifting view of sex... Although the book promotes healthy sexuality, it neither encourages nor discourages teens from engaging in sexual activity. In fact, Corinna prides herself on the open and inclusive nature of the volume. Many people define sex as simply being sexual intercourse, an end of sorts, she said, but she sees things differently... Corinna strives to make information available, not push or pull anyone from a sexual path."Minnesota Women's Press, July, 2007

"I am elated that online teen-sex resource Scarleteen's Heather Corinna has finally put something out in print. If you're a parent looking for an accurate and non-judgmental text for your blossoming adolescent, or a blossoming adolescent or twenty-something yourself, here it is..." - Sasha, Love Bytes, 7.26.07, EyeWeekly/Toronto Star Newspapers

"Written for young people of all genders and sexual orientations, S.E.X. covers everything from birth control to anatomy and includes information about making sexual choices, breast and penis size, sexual health care and body image—all written in a humourous, conversational tone...Eventually, Corrina (sic) was contacted by an editor at Marlowe & Company who released the book this year. (Clearly a good publishing decision, as S.E.X. is receiving well-deserved rave reviews, many of them saying exactly what I felt when I looked at it—S.E.X. is the kind of book you wish you’d had when you were growing up.)" - Anna Kemp, Monday Magazine

The authors, activists, healthcare pros and educators say...

"Heather Corinna’s book, S.E.X., is here to save the day! S.E.X. is an articulate, comprehensive, and just plain fun resource on all things sex. Covering topics ranging from sexuality to relationships to safer sex (and every step in between), Corinna deftly presents each issue with a refreshingly straightforward, accurate, and honest approach....S.E.X. sets out to empower young adults to make healthy, informed decisions about their sexuality and begins with a wonderful challenge: “I want you to choose to create a healthy, happy and fulfilling sexual life that is fantastic for you and for everyone else in it.” This challenge is at the heart of every chapter... While S.E.X. is aimed primarily at adolescents and young adults, it has a lot to offer for any adults with teenagers in their lives—or with questions of their own! S.E.X. addresses the potential awkwardness of talking with a teenager about sexuality and suggests multiple ways to open up communication; plus it’s a great way to brush up on your own knowledge surrounding sexuality and become another source of good information.

Chapter after chapter, Corinna reaffirms that her goal is for her readers to make informed, healthy choices that best suit their lives. She sets them up to do just that by framing each chapter—and the book as a whole—from a holistic view that acknowledges that things like body image, health, relationships, and support networks all play a role in sexual health. With S.E.X., Corinna has created an exceptional book that levels with young adults and provides the comprehensive information and resources necessary for making informed choices." Verbena Health

"S.E.X. is a positive and informative all-embracing guide to sexuality by a dedicated author. Heather Corinna challenges adolescents and young adults alike to be proactive in owning their sexuality by being true to themselves, all the while laying the foundation of knowledge and acceptance key factors for the development of a healthy sexuality."- Dr. Lynn Ponton, author, The Sex Lives of Teenagers

"We thought we were liberated and informed, but Heather Corinna puts us to shame. In S.E.X. You get answers to everything you were afraid, embarrassed or didn't know to ask."- Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, coauthors Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future.

undefinedundefined"With no apologies to conservative sensibilities, Heather Corinna writes a book that enlightened parents will love and adolescents and young adults will think is cool and useful. The book normalizes sexuality in all the best ways: encouraging communication, helping with responsible decision making, respectfully acknowledging differences in individual and family approach to morality, and giving up to date scientifically valid information as a foundation for lifetime sexual development. The author writes with a compassionate, friendly and knowledgeable voice without being preachy or careless. The point is to empower teens and young adults with gentle and appropriate guidance.

The vulva for example is described with all its intricacies- thank goodness for that! And tough subjects, like penis size and breast size are talked about in sensitive but straightforward ways that will definitely reassure young men and women. Another wonderful section gives a " sexual readiness checklist" - providing a really great tool for thinking through the meaning and consequences for one's actions.

All and all, a really useful, smart, user friendly sexual education- great for young people to read on their own-- even better for a parent and child to read together. Some sections, such as the ones on how to do certain sexual acts might make a parent squeamish- but I believe the more discussion between parent and child about everything in this book- the better! Encouragement for safer sexuality and birth control choices are hugely important decisions- why wouldn't a parent want to weigh in with their values, support and guidance?

This book will truly educate the reader. I am very grateful the author had the guts and talent to do it right!" - Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., co-author with Dominick Cappello, Ten Talks Parents Must Have With Kids about Sex and Character

A book for teens that we can all use! Heather Corinna speaks to teens in a straightforward, relatable, fun style in her new book S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexualuty Guide to Get You Through High School and College. Heather is the founder and editor of Scarleteen.com, an online sex ed resource. Her book S.E.X. gives young people factual and non-judgmental answers to the questions we may all have been embarrassed to ask as young people. Heather covers puberty, relationships, sex, autonomy, reproductive health and STIs. Heather also writes candidly about a topic too often overlooked - pregnancy options, including abortion. Heather goes into discussing types of abortion procedures, the abortion appointment process, laws around abortion, money, communication with parents and partners, statistics and debunking the myth of emotional trauma after an abortion.

This is a must-have guide for teens, parents and educators today. Teens need positive reinforcement to make empowering and informed choices - and that is what heather's book does so brilliantly. - The Feminist Women's Health Center(Fall 2007 Newsletter)

And the bloggers and websites say...

"If you're looking for the definitive guide to sex and sexuality, and everything that it entails, then look no further than Heather Corinna's fact-filled book. With straightforwardness, humor, insight, and directness, the founder and editor of Scarleteen.com delves into every aspect of sexuality, and presents it in a way that teens and young adults (and us old adults, too!) can truly understand.

Everything -- and I mean everything! -- is covered within the pages of S.E.X. From Your Body: An Owner's Manual to To Be, Or Not To Be...Sexually Active, Ms. Corinna puts everything into perspective, for both girls and guys. There are thirteen main chapters included, along with appendixes that cover sexually transmitted diseases and infections and a bibliography and list of recommended sources (which include phone numbers and websites, as well as books).

If you've ever had questions of any type about sex, or about your sexuality, then this is the book to use as a reference. There's nothing silly or embarrassing in this book -- just straight questions and straight answers. There are parts that are humorous, but underneath it all is just frankness for the seriousness of the subject matter. Heather Corinna knows that sex is serious business, and that staying both healthy and happy is, too.

This is a great book! Give it to your sons and daughters, your nieces and nephews, your friends. Read it with them, and don't be afraid to discuss what you've read. If everyone -- regardless of age -- is informed, then sex and sexuality will never have to be a taboo subject." - Jennifer Wardrip, Teensreadtoo.com

"I’m pleased to say that this is the book I wish I’d been given as a youngster. The book covers basic anatomy and physical function, body image, masturbation, orgasm, sexual identity, relationships, making choices about sex, kinds of sex and their associated risks, healthcare, abuse, contraception, pregnancy, and more. It truly runs the gamut of sexual health, and does so in a frank and approachable way. No matter how good a parent or school is as providing sex education, I guarantee they’re not as thorough as this book. Want to know how fisting really works (hint: it shouldn’t be like punching someone) and how to do it safely? Want to know how the female equivalent of “blue balls” feels? Not sure if your subtle little orgasms are the real thing, because they don’t match up to overblown movie sex? How to properly put a condom on an uncircumcised penis? What’s a penis or vulva supposed to look like, anyway? Need a straightforward discussion of the lies people tell about sex, and why power imbalances can be risky? This book covers it all.

This book has something for everyone to learn, not just teens and college kids. I’ve been sexually active for ~a decade (actual timelines changed to protect, uh, me), and I went to Oberlin for crying out loud - Drag Ball and Safer Sex Night were our big annual events, I got credit for a course called “Menstrual Health and Politics,” and there were co-ed communal showers in my first-year dorm. I *still* learned things from this book...Corinna takes it nice and slow, explaining everything in clear language that isn’t too clinical and is never boring.

The thing that really blew me away, that made me more excited about this book than I have been about a book in a while, is its inclusiveness. Unlike your standard-issue sex ed, S.E.X. addresses safewords, how to safely use sex toys, homosexuality, bisexuality, polyamory, gender roles, trans-gender/sexual/vestite/phobia, how sexuality and levels of attractedness to one sex or another may shift, your rights as a sexual person (from interpersonal to legal), how to make your own dental dam, and more. In other words, this author doesn’t assume that every person is destined to have only missionary style heterosexual penis-in-vagina sex for ever and ever, amen. S.E.X. allows for multiple ways of feeling, being, and acting sexual. There is something here for everyone, even if you don’t feel “normal,” or if you feel left out of standard sex education curricula. Corinna dispels your ideas of “normal,” and leaves you better informed than you were.

...Real questions and confusion don’t go away just by ignoring them, and S.E.X. can go a long way in informing both parties and creating opportunities for discussion of this somewhat touchy subject. " - Rachel Walden, Women's Health News

"S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College should be the textbook for every sex ed class in this country. It’s that good.

Six years in the making, the book covers pretty much any major topic I can imagine a young person asking about, from the very basics of anatomy, puberty, masturbation and orgasm, to more complex ideas about gender, orientation, body image, self respect, developing relationships, and sexual readiness. It also includes information on the usual sex ed stuff—STI’s, safer sex, birth control, pregnancy, and reproductive health.

However thorough, though, the absolute genius of the book is it’s focus on developing a sexual life that brings one joy and happiness. The book isn’t a technical manual, a platform for sermonizing, or a Talk Down to the Kids After School Special story. Corinna constantly comes back to the notion that sexual knowledge is a tool for developing a satisfying sexual self—something that is so damned crucial, but so rarely taken into account when it comes to conversations about young people and sex. If you really want to buy a book that will do your teen-aged friends and relatives a world of good, that will honestly answer all the questions that they may be too embarrassed to ask, I can’t recommend this one enough." - Veronica Nichols, Ninepearls.com

"Heather Corinna has written a remarkably good book on sex for teens: S.E.X., The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College. To quote the cover, “In S.E.X. you get answers to everything you were afraid, embarrassed, or didn’t know to ask.”

To randomly list some topics: “The Old Give and Take: Sexual Symmetry, Reciprocity and Equality,” “Top Ten Bits of B.S. About STDs (sic),” “Methods that Suck (Or Just Shouldn’t Be Called Birth Control).”

And a great quote practically at random, since there are so many: “Turn off the switch on your brain that makes you say things like ‘All men are jerks’ or ‘Women just want money’, ‘Only gay guys talk like that’ or ‘She looks/acts/sounds like a boy’. There are NO sex, orientation, or gender absolutes, and the less we fall for and support them, the less power they have to keep all of us down.”

She covers everything from the very basic physiology of sex (with excellent clear illustrations), to complex questions of parenting, to issues about sex toys, fist fucking, and multiple orgasms.

And S.E.X. is truly queer-inclusive, not simply queer-positive or queer-friendly. Issues for queer teens are woven in to the book ways that make them as universally interesting and important as those for straight teens. Anyone who has a significant teenager in their life, or works with teens, should buy this book." - Laurie Toby Edison, Body Impolitic

"This book, written by the founder of US sex education website Scarleteen, looks to me like a must-read-and-pass-on-to-the-kids for any feminists worried about the state of sexual relations between young people, and I’m happy to put my head on the line and say that probably includes all of us. With many parents unable or unwilling to talk openly about sex with their children, sex education in schools patchy to say the least and the constant looming threat of the Catholic Church and other self appointed moral guardians who refuse to face the fact that kids are going to have sex no matter what and our teenage preganancy and STI crisis isn’t going to be solved by sticking our fingers in our ears, humming the Lord’s Prayer and handing out abstinence leaflets (gasp for breath), kids have little sound, practical and egalitarian advice to counteract the sexist and often heteronormative ideas promoted in lads’ mags, pornography and other forms of popular culture like those delightful ho’ dissin’ videos on MTV." thefword.org.uk

"There are so many things to recommend this book aimed at youth 16 - 22 (but containing info valuable to a much wider age range) that it's difficult to know where to begin. S.E.X. contains a lot of the information you find in guides aimed at a young readership - anatomy lessons, safer sex guidelines, a breakdown of birth control options, definitions of various sexual activities and infections. The difference here is Heather Corinna's (who as the founder of the world's most awesome sex ed site, Scarleteen, has seen and heard it all) dedication to tugging the rest of society closer to her dream of a world where everyone is “healthy, happy and whole in themselves and their sexuality: in body, heart, and mind.”

To that end the book is truly inclusive. In a section on sexual identity Corinna points out that “this isn't the gay chapter” and indeed the book doesn't assume a heterosexual default the way many do - or root itself in traditional gender roles. Nor does it assume that sex is better when connected with love or marriage. The emphasis is unfailingly on communication, being as safe as possible, respecting your own and others' boundaries and fitting sex into the rest of your life in a healthy and enjoyable way.

The slant seems so balanced and logical that it's a wonder society at large is in such a mess when it comes to sex and sexuality. But popular culture with its constant projection of a hyper-sexuality which is unvarying and prescriptive (dictating what sort of bodies we should have, the kinds of activities we should be engaging in and who should be performing them - and how) would seem to be the enemy of this logic. To counter these negative messages and arrive at a healthy body image, Heather suggests reducing TV watching and binning your fashion magazines, noticing the diversity around you in your everyday life, focusing on things other than appearance and concentrating on physical activities you enjoy (whether that be team sports, canoeing, whatever).

Of course there's a lot of sex in this book and sexual activities are catalogued along with their pregnancy and STI risk. You'll learn that the idea that female virgins are supposed to be “tight” is pure myth. “A woman having first intercourse very well might be tight, but that is likely due more to nervousness, fear, and anxiety than it is to whether or not she has had partnered sex before.” If a woman's relaxed, aroused and lubricated enough with a patient partner first-time sex doesn't need to be painful. The idea of premature ejaculation is “a bit bogus” too. There's no “minimum time that is acceptable for erection” and sexual activity can continue in other ways afterwards. There's no reason that all (or any) of the fun has to spring from penetration.

Unfortunately, not at all sex is consensual and S.E.X. also discusses healing from abuse and rape. “One-half of all rape victims are raped between the ages of fourteen and seventeen.” Roughly a third of “high-school and college students has experienced sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional violence in dating relationships.”

As adults, we don't do near enough honest talking about these issues. How can we expect young people to deal with the rampant sexual assumptions and expectations, misinformation and pressure created by living in a society that on the one hand tells them sex is something serious and special to save for later while simultaneously drowning them in images that promote the very opposite? Confusing? Yeah, enough to make your head explode.

If everyone read, digested and lived by the philosophies espoused in this book our sexual problems would be a thing of the past. So let's get started, do your mind and body a favour and read S.E.X., then recommend it to someone else." - C.K. Kelly Martin, All My Little Words

Some reviews of S.E.X. at GoodReads and Amazon: "This book is the sex education resource for all ages. Heather Corinna, the founder and one-woman wonder of www.scarleteen.com, intended this book to be for junior high/high school/college age youth, but can't say I didn't learn a thing or two or was pleasantly taken by the approach and words she chose to describe attraction, sexuality, gender, and the exploration of these things.

She not only descriptively covers most aspects of sexuality, but quickly addresses the uncomfortable reactions, biases, and phobias that come up for so many folks when talking about all the different kind of sex people choose (or don't choose for that matter) to have. That wins 5 stars for me - respect and understanding for all throughout. Also, if you're looking for a great resource to address queer identity or gender expression with anyone, this book can provide a real solid starting ground. Heather Corrina covers all things in the gender spectrum, from trannies to intersexed folks, from gays to folks on the down-low all in the vein of simple sex education.

A must have." - Kara

"I couldn't be happier with my purchase! It was the most helpful sex education I have ever gotten. It is not embarrassing and it answers most of the questions you are afraid to ask out loud. It is a great reference and is well organized. If you want a simplified but still complete lesson on sex, buy this book. I suggest it to friends and think it can be helpful to anyone!" - Shelby

"I loved how S.E.X. didn't refrain from using language and descriptors that adolescents would find familiar. In the same sense, though, it also brought a level of authority in manner in which topics were discussed. Refreshingly honest and informative...it broke down sexuality in all of its components--biological, emotional, psychological, and social." - Kendra

"This book may be the best of its kind in English. At last we have something primarily for teens and young adults which is knowledgeable, helpful, positive where possible, free of bad biases, and beautifully written...On every page I am pleased to see how Heather Corinna makes luminous sense out of complex issues without oversimplifying. She guides the reader to think, possibly to do more reading or other research, definitely to make her or his own choices. Advice is there aplenty but it's backed up by thought and no little wisdom --- and reasons for everything.

That is how education should work. This book is in complete contrast to the sex-negative, unscientific, ideologically biased sex miseducation foisted on most of America for a long time...I bought two copies of this book. One I gave immediately to a 16-year-old friend who knows more about bodies and sex and has a better attitude towards both than most people of any age. She couldn't put it down.

From the author's foreword: "So, who's this book for? Everyone." Yes indeed. How rare it is to find a book about sex written so well with such understanding, insight, and love. " - Dr. Paul Rappaport

"S.E.X is the only book I've found that is is made for young adults that actually goes into detail about all forms of sexual expression and orientation. It not only has information about heterosexual sex but also homosexual and more. As a teenager, I am so happy to have a book like S.E.X around because it has made me so much more informed about everything to do with sexuality. Plain and simple. This is a must buy book. If your a teenager or if your an adult, either way your going to learn something from this book. " - Elizabeth Ward


Are you interested in doing a review of the book for a magazine, newspaper -- and school newspapers count! -- or newsletter? Are you a member of a school or health organization interested in a copy for review or special ordering information? Drop a line and we'll get you connected.

 

written 12 May 2007 . updated 03 Aug 2012

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