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If you’ve been reading Scarleteen for a while, you might already know that for many years now, we've heard from a good deal of young women who are deeply ashamed of and disgusted by these parts of their own bodies.
Some have feelings so negative that they are afraid to show loving partners their vulvas, or worry a lot about partners they haven't even met yet and that unknown person's reaction to the appearance of their vulva. Others don't get sexual healthcare they need because they don't want a doctor to see their vulvas: in other words, for some, distress about vulval appearance may be putting not just their emotional health and self-esteem, but physical health at risk. Some are so fearful, disgusted or negative they won't even use a mirror to get a better look at their vulvas alone, or won't touch their own vulvas because their feelings of disgust are so strong. Some even find it hard to feel comfortable around other women in non-sexual ways or to hear other women talk about theiRead more...
Depending on your view, the answer to that question might seem really obvious or very tricky and hazy.
This is a subject that's talked about all the time, however, when it is, there's often little to no clear definition about what healthy sexual development is. Many easy assumptions get made, and ideas about what's healthy for all people are often based in or around personal agendas, ideas and personal experiences of sexuality, rather than being based in broader viewpoints, truly informed and comprehensive ideas about all that human sexuality and development involves and real awareness of possible personal or cultural bias.
We think this question is very, very tricky and that the answers aren't at all obvious or easy: sexuality is incredibly complex, especially given its incredible diversity, not just among a global population, but even within any one person's lifetime. Our cultures also are often sexually unhealthy in many ways, and so ideas about healthy sexual development, deeply iRead more...
I'm 20 and have been with my partner for about two and a half years. We have a great relationship and are happy together. However, two years ago, when we first started sleeping together, I contracted genital herpes, even though we used condoms. I was a virgin before I slept with him so I knew it had come from him. I was angry and upset but he kept telling me he had tested clean at his last STI check and couldn't understand that he must have it. When we went to the GUM clinic (together) they confirmed that I had herpes but told me that they don't test for herpes unless there are symptoms present. Therefore when my boyfriend had his previous check-up (symptom free) he tested clean for everything they test for and then went on to sleep with me. My boyfriend was upset that I was blaming him and was tested again for everything they test for to prove to me he wasn't lying when he told me he was clean. He was negative for everything they tested him for....except like last time, they didn't test for Herpes and told him they didn't test for it unless there were symptoms, which there wasn't. He says he doesn't remember ever having symptoms hence why he's never had a physical check for it. I KNOW I didn't do anything wrong, and neither did my boyfriend, but I feel so bad about myself. I feel like I should have done something before we slept together, but I don't know what. I asked him to make sure he was clean: he did. We had no idea that they didn't do standard tests for herpes.
How do I stop feeling dirty and like I was irresponsible?
I'm writing today to make a modest funding ask of our allies and our readers capable of financial contributions on behalf of our volunteers.
What we're looking to do is to raise enough funds for all of our volunteers, who are able, to fly to San Francisco this April and attend the sex::tech conference together.
Doing so would allow them to appear on a panel we're giving composed of young adult peer online educators, in which they can talk about being educators and engage in a discussion with attendees which will, I expect, influence both attendees and the volunteers positively. I feel it's very important for them to be able to experience some outside, in-person recognition for the fantastic work they've done over the years and want that for them very much. This will also allow as many of us as possible to meet in person and do some important brainstorming about Scarleteen as a website and an organization. Many of them have never met in person, despite sometimes talking online forRead more...
I'm a 19-year-old virgin and I don't know enough about sex, period. I went to Catholic and Christian schools with terrible sex-ed classes (I learned the basic biology but virtually nothing about actual sex, condoms, safe sex, or anything like that). I looked at your list of books to read and I've browsed through the questions, but I still don't know where to start. I know a lot about gender but very little about sex. What kinds of books should this straight pro-feminist college freshman read?
I remember it very clearly. I was a senior in high school and we were all noshing together in the lunch room when Darla, who was two years my junior, blurted out that she had seen her boyfriend naked and that they were planning to have sex soon. It would be her first time, although we thought he probably had more experience. ”I sure hope it gets smaller before it goes in, because my hole isn’t that big!” she declared and we all laughed together.
The thing is, she didn’t know whether it would or not, and none of us were willing (or able) to give her much information. Within weeks she recruited another friend to purchase a pregnancy test with her, but I don’t believe any of us considered STI tests.
Back then, I was a youth leader of our church youth group’s True Love Waits effort, a national programRead more...
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 fRead more...
I throw around the words “fear” and “silence” often when it comes to sex ed. They’re loaded terms, perhaps, but these words best describe my experiences with sex education: my emotional reaction and everyone else’s approach, respectively. These words describe what I feel is not often expressed in the sex education debate.
True, it’s hard to use the “Little Mary Sue is scared” argument to a bunch of adult policymakers who believe that a child will “get over” whatever scare tactics they might use in sex education. I have indeed heard it argued that it is okay to use fear in sex education because, well, incurable STIs are out there right now. You can see the logic: if children grow out of believing in the boogeyman, then certainly they will grow out of being told that condoms have pores that let HIV through, right? At least by the time that they areRead more...
This guest post from the wonderful Anne Semans at the Moms in Babeland blog is part of our month-long fundraising effort for Scarleteen. Thanks, Anne!
One day about 20 years ago I was walking down Haight Street with my 6-year-old niece. This was long before I had kids, but well after I started selling sex toys for a living. It was San Francisco in the early Nineties, and Salt n’ Pepa’s song “Let’s Talk About Sex” was blasting out onto the city streets. My niece looked up at me and asked what the song was about.
My moment had arrived! It was my big opportunity to be the “cool aunt” and to seize on a teachable moment to explain the biology without any moralizing or stereotyping.
I nervously launched into a monologue about sex being an intimate act between two adults that brings them pleasure, and how sometimes but not always it can result in a baby being conceived, and that it can be between two women, two men, or one of each.
Finally I paused and asked her if that answered her questRead more...
This is a guest entry from Dangerous Lilly for the month-long blogathon to help raise awareness and financial support for Scarleteen!
At 15, I was still scared of boys, sort of.
Sure I’d “date” them, and yeah I’d make out with them, but everything else? Terrified. It was because I knew next to nothing about boys, sex, *whispers* penises, and all that good stuff. You learned about sex in one of three places: 6th/7th grade so-called-sex-ed lectures; your equally uninformed friends; your parents (so. mortifying.).
Oh, ’92. So good, so innocent, so…awkward. Way back in 1992, SimCity still had copyright codes hidden in black & white pixelated jumbles in a booklet that required a piece of see-through red plastic to enable viewing of text – without it, you were struck with natural disasters every 10 minutes. Oregan Trail was still fun, sorta, if you didn’t mind the thyphoid. The internet? Did not exist as far as we were concerned. We still used the freaking 30-some volume encyclopedia in haRead more...