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The Rainbow Connection: Orientation for Everyone

Everyone has a sexual orientation and a sexual identity. Here are some basics and not-so-basics about what orientation is, some of the ways we can talk about it, how to figure yours out, and finding support.

Rape is Rape: Lebanon Edition

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 re

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Please Speak Up About the Plan B Decision!

It was probably obvious yesterday that we earnestly thought the FDA might finally turn around a longtime decision, one largely against all advice, information and recommendations from sexual, reproductive and adolescent health and rights experts and advocates, when it came to unfounded restrictions long put on teen access to Plan B.

And that was going to actually happen. The FDA was on board this time around and made the decision to ditch those restrictions. People under 17 were finally going to have the same kind of access to a safe, important kind of contraception those over 17 had, a kind of access there is simply no sound reason to restrict.

And yet.

In what Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check so rightfully said can, "only be called an astounding move by an Administration that pledged on inauguration day that medical and health decisions would be based on fact not ideology and for which women are a major constituency, today Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Healt

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I'm a guy interested in receptive anal sex: does that mean I'm gay?

bobwilkins asks:

I'm a 16 year old boy, and for as long as I can remember I have been attracted to girls and yet rarely able to feel comfortable around them and get to know them. I've always been a nice person (the friendly guy) but without that many actual close friends who are girls. Recently I've noticed I am turned on (and everything that follows that) with the thought of receiving anal. Yet when I actually tried to see what anal was like through porn (I know this isn't realistic) I really didn't like it (to be polite). People have sometimes quietly thought of me as homosexual as I've never had a girlfriend and now I'm really not sure about myself? There are so many bad stereotypes and public jokes about gays I don't think its worth considering? I guess if I could fall in love with a girl and kiss her I would be far more confident...but I shouldn't need this! Advice please?

Heather and Dan on How It Gets Better

In hindsight, I knew when I was around ten or eleven that I was queer: that I had and was experiencing growing sexual and romantic feelings for people of all genders, not just those of one of for those of a different sex or gender than me, feelings I'd continue to have throughout my teen years and my adult life to date. I didn't have the language for it then, though, even though there were queer adults in my orbit I could have gotten it from, adults I naturally gravitated towards without realizing a big part of why was because I saw myself in them and I really needed them. Looking back, others identified my orientation before I did: a homophobic grandparent, an uncomfortable parent as well as a comfortable and readily accepting parent, and, most important to this particular tale, a group of teenage meanies in the blessedly brief time I spent in a suburban public high school in the 80's who sometimes whispered but other times yelled, "Dyke!" or "Lesbo!" as they passed me in the halls.

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I want to come out to my friends, but how do I make sure they'll accept me?

thatonequietgirl asks:

I'm bisexual, and I really would like to tell my friends. I mean, they seem pretty open-minded, being pro-gay rights and generally accepting. The thing is, they're being open-minded from afar. If they found out that one of their closest friends is bisexual, I'm not sure they'd be too keen on the idea of having a bisexual girl friend. One even has said that she wouldn't want to have sleepovers at a girl's house if she liked girls. I'm honestly not attracted to her or any other one of my friends (well, maybe one a little, but I'd never make her uncomfortable or anything) but they don't get that. I don't know how to tell them that I like girls but that doesn't mean I like all girls. I'm not sure they'd believe me. Help, please?

What Do You Need to Speak and Feel Heard?

Maybe I'm just being optimistic, but lately I feel like I have been noticing more people who really want to hear and know what young people think. Not who want to assume, presume, project or decide what you think, but who actually want to ask you and hear what you have to say about yourselves for yourselves.

If I'm not delusional in noticing this (always a possibility), I don't have to tell you this is obviously very good news.

One of the common complaints we hear a lot at Scarleteen from young people is how often you have to put up with older adults out and about in the world saying things about you that you don't think are true, or making broad generalizations about all teens or twentysomethings that don't accurately represent the vast diversity among you. And that last thing you need me to tel you is that that can be particularly problematic when it comes to talk that has anything to do with sex or sexuality.

Of course, one of the challenges when adults ask to hear what you have

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You should wait for sex, but if you can't....

This is one of a long line of common phrases in sex education and sexuality messaging people, including people I think of us allies, use that I deeply dislike, like "preventing teen pregnancy." Let me explain why, working backwards.

"You should wait for sex, but if you can't..."

That's usually followed by "then you should have sex using safer sex and contraception." Or -- and usually addressing both those things -- "then you should at least be responsible."

In some respect, that's fine. Now, not everyone needs contraception, either because they don't have a partner with a radically different reproductive system than them or they're not having the kinds of sex that can create a pregnancy, so that doesn't always make sense. But for people choosing to have any kind of sex, we're 100% on board with the sentiment that all of us -- no matter our age -- should be engaging in sexual practices supportive of safeguarding everyone's best health, and in alignment with whether we do or don't want

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Should I be concerned about his sexuality?

pagangirl asks:

Although I feel a little ridiculous asking this considering I should be more openminded towards sexuality and experimentation, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I started dating a man 10 months ago. I'm 18, he turned 26 around three weeks ago. He was married before, and she left because of her claiming to have been bored in bed and in general. Since the beginning of our relationship, I stated that I am bisexual and have been as long as I could remember. I asked him about his orientation and he told me that he was straight. No rushed answer, no hysteria. So, I believed him.

Months later--two months ago almost--I mentioned that I had heard that one of his friends had had a gay encounter. He shrugged and told me that he himself had experimented when he was 16, and had sex with another guy from school. He had anal sex, oral sex, and watched straight and transgender porn with the other boy (claiming the transgender porn belonged to the friend). He told me he couldn't kiss the other guy, because he felt repulsed, yet was able to perform oral sex on him.

Preventing Teen Pregnancy: Three Words Most Likely to Make My Blood Boil

I hate, hate, hate that phrase. Nearly everywhere I go or look as a young adult sexuality educator anymore, I run into it incessantly.

Let me be clear: I don't hate doing all that we can, to help people of every age to avoid pregnancies or parenting they do not want or do not feel ready for. I'm so glad to do that, and it's a big part of my job at Scarleteen and elsewhere when I work as a sexuality and contraception educator and activist.

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