Over the weekend, we linked to reports on the presentation of a study in our Twitter feed and on our Facebook about the effect of sex during adolescence on academics, such as college goals, grade point average, dropout, truancy and absentee rates. On Sunday and Monday, the piece got a whole lot of media and internet airplay, even though it was clear few, if any, reporting on it had yet looked at the study itself.
It's not news that mainstream media tends to do a poor job reporting on both science and sex, and a poorer job still when young people are involved. Here's some of what has gone unreported or has been poorly reported:
Last night at dinner, my partner was telling me about a story on NPR that afternoon. I was sure I hadn't heard it, yet it felt so terribly, completely familiar, as if I had not only heard it once before, but a million times.
The NPR story was titled, "Your Olive Oil May Not Be The Virgin It Claims."
I was one of several guests on a radio show in Baltimore on Friday. The topic of the show was apparently going to be about sex education and social justice, but turned out to be more like fear-mongering and a whole lot of projections around teen sexuality mixed with focus on parents and teen sexuality.
One of the most troubling things was a statement that rape survivors "compulsively have sex."
This is a very common stereotype. It's one that can be incredibly damaging in several ways. It's also one which has long since been dismantled by rape survivors, people who work in the field as advocates for survivors and educators about rape.
High school has always provided great inspiration for movies and television. Grease, Popular, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Breakfast Club, Freaks and Geeks....the list of high-school-based movies and TV shows is pretty extensive. And then there's a new addition, Glee, set in a smallish town in the US, centered on the local high school's glee club, and chock full of as much singing, dancing and snappy one-liners as anyone could want.
This morning, I picked up my mother's copy of “Brigitte”, a German woman's magazine geared at women between 30 and 50. I often borrow the magazine from her, because it tends to have pretty interesting articles. More recently, I've declared myself an out-and-out fan after Brigitte became the first magazine to stop using professional models for their photo spreads.
However, what caught my eye today was one of the titles on the cover: “The sex I didn't want – Confessions from a Gray Area”. In my mind, I immediately flashed to the infamous Cosmopolitan article by Laura Sessions Stepp ( A New Kind of Date Rape ). With a funny feeling in my stomach, I flipped to the article.
This year, we'd like to invest some extra energy in being sure we're doing our level best to serve our readers of color well.
By all means, a lot what we do here is applicable to everyone and can serve everyone, and there are a lot of parts of sexuality and relationships that are fairly universal. At the same time, we know -- either firsthand or by proxy -- there are some issues or aspects of sexuality, sexual life and relationships and sexual health which are different for people or communities of color, or where there are additional barriers or complexities.
People forget that at the turn of the century, in the 20's, in the 50's and 60's, in the 80's and 90's... there has always been something like this, some way young people were expressing or publicizing sexuality that adults were freaking out about, quick to proclaim as abnormal, and quick to state as something new that had never gone on before. Not hardly! I've no doubt we could find dirty telegrams from way back when if we looked for them.
Don’t worry: I’m not going to tell you not to post pictures of yourself drunk or exposed on Facebook because future employers might look at your profile, or tell you not to write about how "totally wasted” you got last night on your Wall. What I want to talk about is the other side of Facebook, the side that allows creeps to spy on you.