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This year, we'd like to invest some extra energy in being sure we're doing our level best to serve our readers of color well.
By all means, a lot what we do here is applicable to everyone and can serve everyone, and there are a lot of parts of sexuality and relationships that are fairly universal. At the same time, we know -- either firsthand or by proxy -- there are some issues or aspects of sexuality, sexual life and relationships and sexual health which are different for people or communities of color, or where there are additional barriers or complexities.
For example, being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender often poses additional challenges when you're of color. Access to sexual and/or reproductive health services is often more limited. How the media treats the sexualities of people of color is sometimes radically different than the sexualities of white people are treated. Body image issues in white communities can be very different than in communities of color. Compound oppressions or marginalization -- like being of color and female, or like being of color and in poverty -- also can make any given issue, and addressing it comprehensively and inclusively, far more complex.
Suffice it to say, ethnic or racial bias and bigotry also still looms large in a lot of people's ideas about sexuality. We just had a reader write in last week who had a partner tell her that her vagina as a woman of color, because she was a woman of color, was radically different internally than the vaginas of white women and that he preferred how white women's vaginas felt, blaming her for his inability to reach orgasm because of the "race" of her vagina. I really wish I were kidding.
The idea that the topography of the vagina or vulva (not talking about color differences, here) is radically different between white women and women of color is absolutely false, and something which study has shown to be false (and which any practicing OB/GYN with a racially diverse group of patients can also tell you is false). But this reader didn't know that. So, it was a lot harder for her to deal with what that (now ex, thank goodness) partner said, because she didn't immediately write it off as clearly racist. I probably also don't have to tell you that there are a lot of sexual stereotypes out there around race, whether it's about how a given person's body or genitals look or function, or ideas of what one race does or doesn't do sexually or is or isn't like sexually, not as individuals, but as people of a given race considered to be or look a given way sexually solely because of their race. People of color are also still often tokenized or fetishized both in sexual media and entertainment as well as in a lot of people's heads.
So, like we do things around here overall, I'm asking you what you feel you need and want so we can work to provide exactly that. We can self-identify some issues, for sure, but in my experience, it works a whole lot better to simply ask people what they need.
How can we best serve you? What sexuality issues from and/or addressing POC perspectives do you want or need to see addressed here at Scarleteen? What existing articles that you've read here do you feel need adjustments when it comes to people of color? Can you tell us what you think those adjustments are? What has come up for you when it comes to sexuality and race that you'd like to see us bring up?
If you could leave your comments here, that'd be fantastic, and be as in-depth as you want to be. If your thoughts feel murky or unclear, that's okay: go ahead and share them anyway. We all know it can be hard for any of us sometimes to articulate what we need in sexual information, after all. (And just in case, please don't worry about offending us. We know and experience that sometimes conversations about these issues can be awkward or tense, and that's okay. We are talking about sex here every day, after all, so we're more than used to awkward.)
We're also glad to engage in a conversation in the comments about this to work together in figuring out how we can be sure that POC feel as VIP at Scarleteen as we want every reader to feel.
P.S. If you want to write something for us, please let us know! The Sexuality in Color section of the blog always needs more guest writers, and we also are always up for more articles or In Your Own Words pieces. Scarleteen's budget is such that we are rarely able to pay any of our writers, unfortunately, so paid pieces are rare, but we can offer a big mess of viewers for our writers, as well as the opportunity to get your voice out there saying what others need to see and hear. At least, that's what I've told myself with the pieces I have written here over the years, which most of the time, I haven't gotten paid for, either. :)