Sometimes, knowing is the whole battle.
This is a guest post from Dances With Engines as part of the month-long blogathon to help support Scarleteen!
I was hoping to make a post for the Scarleteen Blogathon that was pleasant and sweet and that would inspire people to make donations, and to do it without touching on my personal experiences. But there’s no way for me to make a post about sex and sex education without digging at old wounds. Isn’t that part of the new paradigm, anyway, where personal experience has authority?
Scarleteen is written for young people of all sexes and genders. That they manage to do so with so much consistency and dependability is amazing to me. As I become more conscious of my own binary and oppositional language (men do this, women do that, and only men and women), I get more impressed with Scarleteen.
When I recommend websites to my daughter, or to friends with growing children, I am always questioning—is the language and mission of this site going to be inclusive? Is anyone going to be left feeling like they don’t belong or that someone’s wrong with them? I felt like that, growing up. There were so many reasons I wasn’t human, wasn’t visible. Growing up in a conservative environment where I was defined by my sex and my ability to reproduce, having a sexuality that didn’t meet the norm left me in limbo.
As I grow as a feminist, I also want more intersectionality, and Scarleteen acknowledges the importance of this as well. I find that reading their blogs and articles—as an adult—helps me file off the old codes imprinted in my psyche and my thought. While Scarleteen is written for young people, it has helped me to complete development of opinions and identity that were broken short by trying to conform to my family and their community of choice.
Reading Scarleteen as a teen would have taught me that certain things that happened weren’t only wrong: they were illegal. It never occurred to me as a young woman that someone wasn’t allowed to do that to me. More than that, it never occurred to me that it wasn’t my fault. It took me into my forties to really grasp that.
I read Scarleteen because it helps me heal, I read it because I want to be a good parent to my teenaged daughter, and I read it because I want to make sure it continues to be a good resource that I can offer to other people. I read it because I’m a writer and I want to be constructive in my work, I want to write outside of the constructs given to me by me history.
I jumped at the chance to blog and to donate to Scarleteen because I wish it had been around when I was a kid. I love the way that it addresses young people as people. I don’t believe that children are chattel; I believe that they are capable of making wise choices when given consistent, comprehensible, non-condescending information, and when they can have faith in each other and the adults who are addressing them. One of the greatest disservices that we can do to our children, and ourselves, is to lie—no matter how noble the reasoning may seem.
Scarleteen does all the right things, in my opinion. It doesn’t lie. It treats its readers with respect—whether they are conservative or liberal or progressive. As a whole, it wants its readers to be true to themselves, no matter how that manifests.
I was raised in a conservative Christian family, where the entirety of my education on the act of sex was limited to the fact that I was to be married and that I was to lie down for my future husband as necessary, preferably to produce babies. Literally: the woman lies down with her legs apart. Nothing more. Until then, it was my responsibility to prevent men from having sex with me, which they would try to do, because I would do that to men, make them want to have sex with me.
Reading something like Scarleteen wouldn’t have made me run out and have sex. Information doesn’t do that to people. It would have saved me from being the victim of misinformation, self-hatred, confusion, and repeated sexual assaults. Supporting Scarleteen means—in my experience, and without hyperbole—that other children and young people will be saved from those things as well.
That’s worth a donation, or at least taking the time to share a link with someone else. If you do nothing else, share the link.