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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Your Changing Sexual Ethics/Politics

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Author Topic: Your Changing Sexual Ethics/Politics
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Have any of you experienced a fairly radical change in your point of view or ethics around sexuality, sexual health, reproductive justice and rights, sexual relationships, sexual identity or another sexuality issue?

You don't need me to tell you that often, when we're young, we can be very strong-minded, and even sometimes pretty black-and-white in our thinking, only to later find we feel very differently, or have something happen to us or others that can add shades of gray or radically change or viewpoints.

Sometimes that can feel very easy and very liberating. Other times, it can actually be kind of scary or confusing, especially if something about those ethics or politics felt like a very big part of our own identity and/or have been or are a big part of our cultural identity.

Have you ever experienced a big shift in these areas in your mind and beliefs? If so, what was it around? How did that feel for you and impact your life, and how did you manage that change?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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CoatRack
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 50455

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Wow, this is SUCH a long post. Sorry!

My biggest change of mind was around abortion and having a high number of sexual partners. My mother was all over the place as I grew up, from pagan to evangelical christian to atheist, on and off various drugs (prescription and illegal), and had a lot of sex with a lot of men. She had had two abortions before my older brother was born, an abortion between his birth and mine, and three more between my birth and that of my little brother (so, six in total).

When I was 5 she married a man who, when I was 8, became fanatical about Evangelical Christianity. I began attending an Assemblies of God church (for those not well versed in Pentacostal religions, Assemblies of God is a very conservative, fundamentalist denomination that believes in a strict interpretation of the Bible and gifts of the Spirit like glossolalia). When I was 10 my mother divorced my step-father but I continued to go to the church since both of my younger siblings were going. At 11 I started in their youth group program as well as their “missionettes” program, a sort of Christian Girl Scouts but without the excitement of ever doing anything fun.

And ohhhh the things I “learned” in that program!

After a year and a half I was CONVINCED that my mother was going to hell, I cried over the loss of my “dead siblings” and I was pretty big on lecturing hear for hours on end about how she had to “make right with the Lord” and trying to get her to PROMISE to never have another abortion and to stop having sex with so many people out of wedlock.

Now I'm not saying that my mother has made particularly good decisions (there was no reason for me to know how much sex she had, she was using drugs to the point that it was impacting her effectiveness at parenting, etc) but the things I was taught were her problems were really not the big issues.

When I was 12 I came out as gay, first to myself and then to a few friends at school. Word spread, and eventually the youth minister found out and we had a meeting in the pastor's office where they tried to get me to admit my sins so that they might be forgiven. I said some things that got me, um, unwelcome in that church anymore. But I still longed for that community. That experience made me really disillusioned with religion for awhile, and I started to question all of the things I had been taught. It was 1999 and the presidential election was heating up and in the process of attempting to start a GSA at my middle school I became outraged at the Republican party and decided that defeating George Bush Jr. should be my goal in life, so I got involved with the Democratic party.

We all know how that election turned out, but in the process of that I met some pretty awesome people, including a woman who worked at Planned Parenthood who spent a lot of time talking to me about sexuality education, abortion rights, and why slut-shaming was a really uncool thing to do. At 14 I started volunteering with Planned Parenthood, even though technically I was too young. They let me staple things and sort things, all the while providing me with an education that I would have never received at school, home, or church. My views changed, some rapidly and some in little baby steps, and over the course of high school I went from maybe being a little bit OK with a woman's right to choose to being a queer, feminist, sex-positive sexuality educator and advocate... who had been arrested more than a few times in the name of justice.

I still missed religion in my life, though. A little over a year ago I got to mesh all of my sexual ethics with my new found religion (Unitarian Universalism) at this conference I went to – Sexuality Education and Advocacy Training. It was a sex-positive conference about how to bring comprehensive sexuality education back to our communities – be that schools, community centers, or our churches. It was so affirming to be in a place that said “your ideas and ideals and ethics and feelings about sexuality are totally in line with our religion!” It was like things had come full circle, but somehow flipped over in that time. I was talking about sex and sexuality in church again, but in a way that was positive and affirming instead of shaming and repressed.

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Hey folks, my name is Andrew and I was a mod here for awhile a couple years ago. I'll be here for a couple weeks while Heather is out and the site is even more short-staffed than usual

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Cesario
Activist
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I would say the closest I've come to changing my view of sexual ethics was the incident that spun off this thread:
http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/8/t/001392.html

In the end, it didn't crystalize into a change in behavior, but the questions raised continue to bother me.

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Saffron Raymie
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I read a horrific newspaper aricle about there being a 'thin line' between rape and sex. Thanks to Scarleteen, I know there's enthusiatic consent, then a HUUUUUGE gap of different circumstances; like unenthuisastic consent and obligation and then abuses like disception, drunkeness, mild to medium coercion, and *then* rape. They are a universe apart.

Also my parents always laughed at me for being 'bisexual' and kept saying 'you thought you were gay, but kids (they meant teenagers) never know.' Also from my gay housemate, saying that you're either gay or straight; NOT bi. Now I don't identify as bisexual because there aren't two genders or sexes. I'm queer, and I know that sexuality is a fluid spectrum, so nobody really can 'ever know'.

Not ethical or political, but I know use a mentrual cup because I thought there was jut a choice of pads or comercial tampons - which both cause me severe irritation and dryness.

Also, I now think age of consent laws are stupid, and teenagers are not children.

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Tashi
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Nice topic!

I was raised in a decently conservative household. My parents were former Catholics, I was raised Christian. I thought homosexuality was immoral, premarital sex was bad, and that abortion was killing babies. I think I maintained these beliefs up until at least my sophmore year of high school (~15 years old). I don't ever recall overtly thinking that "gay people were going to hell," but I do have a memory of someone taking a survey for a Stats class and asking me if I thought homosexuality was wrong. I remember responding that I thought homosexuality was unnatural because it doesn't result in procreation.

I also am a former pro-lifer. I used to get so sad over all the babies that were being murdered because of abortions. I think I did manage to allow in my mind for cases where the mother's health was at risk, I don't recall my views on rape or incest.

My initial views about premarital sex weren't as strong as my previous views on homosexuality/abortion. I think in the back of my mind I realized that it was unrealistic to think I would wait until marriage for sex. I had enough sexual experience through masturbation and porn that I knew it would be hard to say "no" for another decade...


But now...It's a different story.

I have absolutely no problem with those that aren't heterosexual, whatever you may be. I think my change in view came from first realizing it wasn't a "choice," and then wondering why God would make people born gay if it was a sin. So I decided it couldn't be immoral or bad for people to be non-heterosexual. As for "gay sex," it is entirely not my business what other people do with those they love.

Change in views regarding abortion are more recent for me. My views have really solidified in the past 6 months as pro-choice. I first started leaning towards pro-choice when I did a lot of reading about the (unbiased) facts of abortion - when and how it is done, development facts, etc. This resulted in the realization that it's not something done out of "convenience." But I think the biggest impact on my views was when I started heading towards becoming sexually active and pregnancy started to become something I had to think seriously about. What would I do if it was me? I know that I am currently NOT in a situation to raise a child. I don't want resent that child for being born. I also read two books that were compilations of the stories of women who had abortions. Reading their stories made me realize how personal a choice it is, and how necessary a choice it is.

It always makes me somewhat sad to look back at how naive and misguided I was. Thankfully, I am a bit more enlightened now.

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Lilerse
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Member # 46007

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Probably my biggest change in point of view has to do with expressing sexuality without objectifying yourself. As in, when I was a little kid I was disgusted with women who wore revealing clothes, wore "stylish" clothes, wore makeup, shaved..etc. I thought tube tops were like the devil haha. I thought they were sexist and objectifying.
These days, when I wear "sexy" clothing or dress myself up or whatever, I don't feel objectified, I feel confident and sexy. I'm not going to pretend that some of what I do isn't giving into the patriarchal conformist culture and all that, but I do feel like you can wear high heels AND be a feminist. I used to be really narrow-minded and self-righteous and not think about it. My 10-year-old self would hate what I'm wearing right now!

At the same time, I never lost my willingness to NOT care about my appearance; to go outside in my pajamas and frazzled hair and not give a crap. Even though I own makeup, shaving cream, cute dresses, and high heels now, I still go most days without any of them - and don't feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.


In terms of sex more specifically, my views pretty much change every month. I've had phases of sluttery (yes that's my new favorite word), of anti-monogamy and anti-marriage and anti-relationship, of hardcore feminist sexual liberation, of fulfilling sexually monogamous relationships, of sexual exploration with the same sex and more than one person, etc. etc. Just last spring on Scarleteen I think I was talking about how I never wanted to be in a monogamous relationship again and never planned to get married...then just a few months later I got into a great monogamous relationship that gave me hope and got me considering marriage (not with this particular guy; just the concept of marriage didn't seem quite as scary). Though I've lost a lot of faith in that relationship at this point, it was the best relationship I'd had and led me to realize relationships can be really good things. And that most of the time, I vastly prefer being monogamous than having the "freedom" of nonmonogamy (feeling like I don't even enjoy sex with people I don't love and that it's not worth it, etc.)

OH, and what was really cool is recently I logged onto this old dating site I first found 2 years ago but hadn't been onto in 2 years..and got to see my old profile and answers to questions about stuff like sex and monogamy. So much has changed!!! It was really cool to see my how my personal ethics have changed in just two years; I feel like my experiences have really opened my mind (and I know I have many many more years to open my mind up even more!).

Sorry, ramble over. Let's just say I feel like I'm less judgmental overall than I used to be: for example, I can both understand and relate to people who want monogamy, and understand relate to people who don't. I feel like in the past I often "took sides"; now I feel like I don't. I hope.

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MonarchButterfly
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I was pretty sheltered to social issues (namely homosexuality and reproductive rights) when I was younger, but as far as I can remember I had at least a semi-liberal stance on them.

There was a controversy when I was 10--six years ago--over a website (American Girl) supporting Girls Inc., and a bunch of the girls I talked to there were up in arms about it. I asked if the strange mystical word "lesbian" (I don't remember having even a little hint of what it might be) was a bad thing, and the answer was pretty forceful. I looked it up in the dictionary, my solution to every question at that time, and my reaction was literally something like, "...I don't see the big deal."

My opinions even from about two years ago on abortion really embarrass me--reading old posts on another website I frequent sound pretty judgmental of me. I considered myself pro-choice, but I only advocated it in extreme cases, otherwise I thought it was irresponsible. I've defintely became much, much more liberal in that respect.

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LimeGreenLovexX
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I have always been pretty politically minded, especially with moral issues such as reproductive rights and homosexuality. I'm a Christian, so that's where a lot of it comes from.

I'd say that my views on abortion are much different than they were two years ago. I'm pro life, but agree that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape/incest, and in cases where pregnancy could harm the mother, child, or both.

My views on homosexuality, however, are pretty much the same. I don't think Homosexuals should be allowed to get married, but I think they should be able to get the benefits that married couples do, I just think that marriage is sacred and is only between a man and a woman. But that's just my opinion.

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"Being Happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections" -Unknown

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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LimeGreenLovexX (and anyone else):

With this last post, I feel like we need to set ground rules with a thread like this, I'm just struggling to figure out what the right one is, that allows for everyone in the community to still feel safe and supported, but also allows any one person with opinions like this to be able to express themselves.

With the given that this probably isn't perfect, I guess I just need everyone to remember any time they're talking about how a group of other people should not have certain rights that members of that group are members of our staff, volunteer and reader community.

Knowing that, I ask that everyone please be sensitive to that, and consider for a moment how you might feel if and when someone is suggesting you don't deserve certain things other people do, and if you really feel good about saying that to the people you're talking about. Putting the shoe on the other foot is a good idea with statements like these, okay?

Thanks.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LimeGreenLovexX
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I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to be in-sensitive. I honestly do respect people who choose abortion or who are homosexual, It's just not my personal belief. I understand that abortion in general is a very sensitive topic and there are many different beliefs and opinions.

Thinking about it a little more, I think I understand what you're saying. I guess the main reason I'm pro-life (and remember, this is my choice. I'm not forcing this on anyone.) is that I disagree with people who use it as a form of birth control. I understand situations that people get into and they are so scared and don't know what to do.

I'm terribly sorry if I offended anyone, because that was not my intention. I suppose it's hard to express a tone of voice in an online reply. Again, I'm terribly sorry.

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"Being Happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections" -Unknown

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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My point was that if and when personal beliefs involve enabling or creating inequities -- like by allowing or giving one group a right others are denied -- or are centered around us not having a set of circumstances (period, or so far in our lives) others do or may find themselves in, putting those out there in a community in which the other people you're talking about are right here is problematic and hurtful.

I brought up something with you about this because no one else had responded with anything that involved withholding or taking away rights from anyone, but yours did, including withholding or taking away rights from...well, some of us reading it.

Know what I mean? Can you put the shoe on the other foot here and realize that if, for instance, someone were to post that straight people should have their right to marry taken away, and you were/are a straight person, that'd make you feel pretty awful, in a space where you were told members all work to try and make it an emotionally safe and supportive space for everyone?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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