Today I want to briefly address the way that the walks have been visually represented in the media and by many bloggers writing about them, especially those who have been nonsupportive or critical.
In a word, they have frequently been represented by photographs which expressly stated or just implied they represent what people at the walks looked like as a whole, and have been anywhere from just incorrect to exceptionally dishonest in those assertions or implications. Because as far as I can tell, the images that keep getting picked aren't those which are most representative of the protests as a whole, but which are most representative of what a given person either found most provocative or most interesting. Or, which best represent their reasons for nonsupport or mockery.
We're so very excited to kick off this series today which features some of the stories and photographs from "I'll Show You Mine", a book by Wrenna Robertson and photographer Katie Huisman, and by all of the women featured in the book, collectively.
When I was a very young child, I remember really, really loving my vagina. The smell and sight of it made me feel comfortable and at home, and I was very vocal about how proud I was to be a girl. When I was still young and cute enough for adults to find me benign and non-threatening, I'd boast at length about my genitalia, describing its structure in detail - even feeling it was far superior to the junk of the boys around me.
In my experience it feels like there are two crowds, those who are 'cool' and have frequent sexual activity, hookups etc both in and out of relationships (or at least portray themselves as doing so) and those who are 'pure' who have decided at this point to abstain from sex until marriage, who are frequently Christian or otherwise religious. I think there's pressure to fit into one of those groups, either to go out and have lots of sex or to not have sex at all.
Depending on your view, the answer to that question might seem really obvious or very tricky and hazy.
At a recent conference I was part of in London, Alan McKee presented Healthy sexual development: a multidisciplinary framework for research. What McKee and his colleagues determined to be the core parts of healthy sexual development had me jumping up and down in my seat with joy (literally: I may have disturbed my fellow attendees with my bouncing). It summed up the things we try to support, encourage and inform our users with and keep core at Scarleteen so well, and so much of what I think -- after many years of thinking hard about and working with these issues, and being fully and broadly immersed in them with a very diverse population -- truly is central to healthy sexual development.
I'm delighted to have permission to excerpt and reprint this framework here.
I've been in a relationship with my current boyfriend for a year now, and we've been having sexual intercourse for around 8 months. Throughout this time, I have NEVER reached an orgasm through sex, but because I thought I was the weird abnormal one, and was afraid of how my boyfriend may react, I since have faked it every single time which we have had sex....
If you haven't been living under a rock the past few weeks, you'll have noticed that there's big media hoopla about one Julian Assange. Everyone seems to have an opinion and something to say about him, and between Swedish arrest warrants, Interpol searches, public defenses by people like Michael Moore, and protests to these defenses by many feminist bloggers, it's getting hard to separate fact from bias and get to the bottom of what is really going on.
So, what IS going on here?
Anyone who knows me or who knows anything about me usually knows that my pre-teen and teen years were incredibly difficult. I dealt with neglect and abuse in my family, starting from about the time I was 10. I was sexually assaulted twice before I even became a teenager. I was queer. I was suicidal and was a self-injurer. I struggled to find safe shelter sometimes. Few people seemed to notice, even though after I gave up trying to use my words, I still used my eyes to try and tell them constantly.
I'm 40 now, and in a whole lot of ways, I felt older at 16 than I feel now. Some days, I am truly gobsmacked that I survived at all, let alone with my heart and mind intact and rich.
A lot of why I survived is about having gotten support.
This is a guest post from sex educator Charlie Glickman, part of the month-long blogathon to help support Scarleteen!
Imagine, for a moment, what the world would be like if we took the same approach to money as we do to sex. Imagine trying to hide all evidence of money from children, telling them that it’s not something they should know about. Imagine shaming them for asking questions about it, for expressing an interest in it, and for wanting to experiment with it. Imagine that you never explained how budgets work, or how to balance a checkbook, or how to pay for anything. Then, imagine that when they turn 18, handing them a credit card and saying “good luck with that.”
Sade is 17 and works as a youth activist for YWCHAC, a program for and by young women of color that helps foster their development in advocacy training while providing them with the skills to be effective peer-educators to youth on the subject of sexual health. Their mission is to address the increasing rates of HIV infection in young women of color ages 13-24.
I got the chance to ask Sade about what she does, why she does it, and what she thinks about some of the issues that impact HIV and young women.