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.
(It's much more fun if you do your best Mary Catherine Gallagher moves when you say it.)
Today we're starting our yearly fundraising appeal -- the shiny marketing term for "beg for cash" -- for Scarleteen with some righteous month-long festivities and extras.
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.