I moved to Seattle around four years ago from Minneapolis, where I lived for six years after leaving my hometown of Chicago. Growing up in Chicago, living in Minnesota and after an early childhood on the east coast, I was used to old things, to history, to a total lack of shiny-and-new. Growing up poor and in a number of far less-than-ideal living situations, my normal in how and where I lived was often pretty rough around the edges, and often involved a lot of effort from me, typically more than my fair share.
Seattle, however, is kind of the land of shiny-and-new. Almost every place I looked at when I was apartment-hunting felt sanitized and kind of like Barbie's Dream House to me: without my kind of character and so already-finished that I didn't see where there was room for my own stamp in them. The allure of the fixer-upper was nowhere to be found. I've always liked fixing places up that anyone else would see as hopeless: it's a challenge, and a situation where I might have theRead more...
I'm a girl, but I've always felt like I'm in the wrong body. Every time I picture myself, I see a boy. I want to get a sex change, but I know how much it can cost. My parents are also Catholic, and are already angry about me not being religious, and every time I try to bring up the subject, they get angry and tell me that I was "made a girl", so I should only feel like one, and that everything else I feel is wrong. But my friends are very supportive, and I even have a guy friend who wants to be a girl. Who do I listen to?
I was watching a debate about sex education today, one rife with a lot of ludicrous statements, but the statement that quality sex education could not possibly help prevent sexual abuse stuck with me. It was all the more infuriating as someone who knows too well that a lack of knowledge about bodies and sex, and a lack of information about sexual consent and autonomy are some of the hugest reasons why sexual abuse is so prevalent.
Now, this is hardly a new form of cluelessness (nor is it exclusive to Canada: we've all but made an art form of it stateside). I've addressed this issue before, at Scarleteen and in some talks and interviews I have given over the years, and also in a piece a little while back for the Guardian in the United Kingdom.
Hopefully it's obvious the reason I, as a sexuality educator and activist, and Scarleteen, as an organization, provide sex education isn't just about preventing unwanted or negative outcomes, like unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infectiRead more...
On top of doing what I do here at Scarleteen (and everything else I do), I also do some outreach sexuality and sexual rights education for a youth homeless shelter here in Seattle. My partner also now works full-time at that shelter, and when he came home last night and filled me in on some things that had gone on that day, I got struck very hard in the gut with some feelings I hadn't fully realized for myself until then, both about that work and the young people there, but also about some of my experiences with some of the users at Scarleteen.
So, I wrote the residents there a letter this morning that I'd also like to share with you, because the way I feel about them is also the way I feel about plenty of you. Because most of Scarleteen happens online, very few of our users are currently homeless or transient, but some have been or will be. In addition, plenty over the years have shared similar struggles, either being in the foster care system or in unsafe homes, surviving loss, assRead more...
I'm in my late teens and have been dating my first boyfriend for one and a half years. Early on in the relationship he broke my trust and later on has done a few things that have made me really uncomfortable: touching me where I've told him not to before, being very rough, and the worst, making a negative comment about my body. I've talked to him about all of this and it hasn't happened since but it's destroyed my trust in him, and my libido has disappeared. I now dread having sex with him because I'm always thinking about how he must hate my body and not respect me. Is there anything I can do to get me to believe he actually likes my body (like he claims to) or to learn to trust him again (and to be okay with him treating me rougher than I like?). I really love him but I can't stand the thought of him touching me at the moment because I just feel used.
We agree with them that these ten tips absolutely, positively can prevent many sexual assaults without fail.
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault thRead more...
Originally written for The Guardian, condensed version can be seen there.
In 2008, over 5,000 UK women under the age of 20 had an abortion that was not their first. As was made clear by the alarmist headlines following the publication of those numbers, this is a big concern for the public.
A woman’s reproductive life often spans 30+ years. Around 1/2 of all pregnancies in the US and UK are unplanned. Contraception isn’t used or used properly. It fails sometimes even in perfect use. Female fertility peaks between the ages of 19 and 24: the reason we tend to see the most abortions (and pregnancies) in that group is because it is the most fertile group having the most sex. (Piccinino, LJ, Mosher, WD. Trends in contraceptive method use in the United States: 1982-1994. 1998. Family Planning Perspectives. Vol. 30(1): 4-10 & 6, Table 1) The UK teen pregnancy rate is the highest in Western Europe: six times higher than the Netherlands, nearly three times higher than France and more than twiceRead more...
We're pleased to host the 6th edition (oops, make that the 8th!) of the newly reborn Feminist Carnival! In the spirit of rebirth, and in alignment with the readers and mission of Scarleteen, this round puts it's focus on young feminist bloggers and feminist issues particularly pertinent to younger women.