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I am tired of disbelief.
I am tired of skepticism.
I am someone who does, genuinely, believe in the value of looking at things with a critical eye, of being cautious, of acknowledging that there are two sides to every story.
But I am tired of it when it comes to people who have been, or are being, harmed or made vulnerable.
In our work here at Scarleteen, we have people who talk with us about rape, or abuse, or relationships that they haven't yet pegged as abusive but that make my shoulders go up around me ears. And I have been asked:
Why do you believe them? How do you know they aren't presenting a biased opinion to get sympathy? There's always two sides to things.
The short answer is: because it is my job to believe them.
We, any of us who work with survivors, have a serious responsibility to, at the very, very least, believe them. They don't come to us for skepticism. They don't come to us to be told that they're overreacting, that they're lying, that they should think of the feeliRead more...
A friend of mine was in a relationship about 2 years ago. He's a guy. His girlfriend at the time pressured him into doing oral sex by saying that if he didn't do it that meant he didn't love her. Would that be sexual abuse? Because if a guy pressured a girl into giving him a blow job that would be considered sexual abuse and I'm just double-checking to see if that goes both ways.
Scarleteen's users are diverse, as are the reasons they find us, and the issues they bring to us. For some, the needs are as basic as needing to know how and when to use a condom or a hormonal contraceptive, or learning the names and functions of body parts. Some want help figuring out if sex with another person is something they want or not, or are ready for; some need help learning to negotiate or assert their sexual or interpersonal wants and needs. Many just need to know, from especially from someone who doesn't want anything from them, that it's okay for them to have sexual feelings and a sexuality. Many users like these have access to sexual healthcare, supportive and caring families or communities, and haven't experienced great sexual or interpersonal traumas. For those users, we're often something they need, but not something they can't manage without. We're a valuable helper, but not the only help they've got to draw on.
Some of our users come to Scarleteen just once or twicRead more...
That's it, just what seems -- to me, anyway -- to be a relatively simple request I'm putting out to the universe today, because it's something that comes up almost constantly in work and discussions around sexuality, something where I've grown impatient waiting for change.
I'm asking what I'm asking as an advocate for survivors, as a survivor myself and as someone deeply invested in sex being something truly beneficial for people, and which we only define as something people willingly, wantedly, choose to do when they do choose it.
Please stop calling rape sex (especially if you are not talking about your own experiences with sexual abuse and assault, where those experiences are things you yourself choose to call sex). Please stop calling rape or other kinds of sexual violence things like "unwanted sex."
Please stop saying someone engaged in sex when you know it was abuse or assault, suspect that it was, or just don't know if everyone involved was consenting. Please stop asking whRead more...
I'm an 18 year old virgin. A few months back, I was out clubbing with a friend, and she wanted me to make-out with a guy, because she does it all the time when we go clubbing. I started dancing with a guy, and we started kissing, which I DID want to do. But then he started putting his hand up my skirt, and then in my underwear. I kept pushing his hand away and telling him to stop and he kept putting it back. I managed to escape and didn't see him again, but I feel kind of violated, as he was touching me sexually. Is this my fault? I did want to kiss him, but I said not when he put his hand down my pants. Was this wrong, or was I asking for it, and is it just something that happens?
I'm 13 years old and my friend didn't go into detail, but she said she got raped by her dad(or her stepfather). she didn't tell her mom "because she'd get mad" and didn't think it would matter since her parents are getting a divorce and she'll move away with her mom soon. she doesn't want me to tell anyone and refuses to tell anyone. I can't change her mind about that because she's very stubborn.I know I should tell someone, but who should I tell?
In Lebanon (or at least, in Beirut) the joke is that it is equally likely to see a woman in a mini skirt as it is to see a woman in a hijab.
In Lebanon (or at least, in Beirut), European tourists feel at ease that the Lebanese still speak a post-colonial French, and let Beirut be called the Paris of the Middle East.
In Lebanon (or at least, in Beirut), tourists and Lebanese alike flock to the beaches and the nightclubs, openly drinking alcohol, smoking hookahs, and belly dancing to both popular western and Arabic music, creating a strange moment that many see as cultural influence, and many others see as cultural infiltration.
Still—despite the post-colonial familiarity and acceptability of Lebanese culture—Lebanese women remain in many ways decorative objects, openly ignored, slighted or discriminated against in legislation. In Lebanon, a woman cannot pass on her Lebanese nationality to her children. In Lebanon, a woman is not protected from domestic abuse—because the law does not reRead more...
As some of you may know, I experienced two different sexual assaults when I wasn't yet in my teens within just one year of one another. The second time I was assaulted, my experience ticked all of the boxes there currently are in our culture for what is so often -- now, anyway, easily considered a "real" or "bonafide" sexual assault, or what Whoopi Goldberg, to my great disappointment, would call "rape-rape."
I was a girl, and one with body parts universally recognized as "girl parts." My attackers were guys. Even worse when it comes to the rape cliché all too often (misre)presented as universal truth, I was a white girl raped by guys of color. I did not know any of the perpetrators: they were all strangers. It was violent. It was forceful. I said no, I yelled, I tried to run, and I fought, but I lost. I was conscious until I was knocked unconscious. I hadn't been drinking or doing recreational drugs, nor had I everRead more...
I’m a woman in my early twenties and identify as a feminist. Last November I was raped by someone I had previously considered to be a close friend. However, the assault itself isn’t what I am writing about. I’ve read many of Scarleteen’s wonderful articles on sexual assault and I am quite comfortable with the idea that what happened to me isn’t my fault.
Shortly after the assault, I started up a relationship with a man (which includes sex). I realise that it’s not ideal to start a sexual relationship soon after experiencing sexual assault. I don’t regret entering into the relationship, though, as it has (overall) made me very happy and has provided me with support to deal with my assault. My partner knows about my sexual assault.
On Monday, I talked about some of my own life, and the central, very personal, issue which kept me from attending one of the SlutWalks, an issue which also central to the walks themselves. On Tuesday, I brought up what appears to be a clear misrepresentation by the media, especially visually, of the walks. In both pieces, I expressed unwavering support for the walks.
While I did not agree with a good deal of it, I appreciated Rebecca Traister writing in the New York Times magazine last week.
But at a moment when questions of sex and power, blame and credibility, and gender and justice are so ubiquitous and so urgent, I have mostly felt irritation that stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts is passing for keen retort.
To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial)