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Sexuality: WTF Is It, Anyway?

The term "sexuality" can be used a lot like the word "sex." They're both terms we say and hear a lot, but which often aren't clearly defined. We take for granted everyone knows what sexuality means, a heck of an assumption to make with something that covers so many important things and can feel as murky as Lake Erie. So: what's it all about?

Please Stop Calling Rape Sex

That's it, just what seems -- to me, anyway -- to be a relatively simple request I'm putting out to the universe today, because it's something that comes up almost constantly in work and discussions around sexuality, something where I've grown impatient waiting for change.

I'm asking what I'm asking as an advocate for survivors, as a survivor myself and as someone deeply invested in sex being something truly beneficial for people, and which we only define as something people willingly, wantedly, choose to do when they do choose it.

Please stop calling rape sex (especially if you are not talking about your own experiences with sexual abuse and assault, where those experiences are things you yourself choose to call sex). Please stop calling rape or other kinds of sexual violence things like "unwanted sex."

Please stop saying someone engaged in sex when you know it was abuse or assault, suspect that it was, or just don't know if everyone involved was consenting. Please stop asking wh

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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?

Because yes, it really DOES happen: A thank you to SlutWalks

I want to tell you something very personal about me. Not because I want to. I really don't want to. But I'm going to do it anyway.

It's one of those things where even though it's incredibly uncomfortable for me, I feel like sharing despite my discomfort might be able to make a positive difference. And since this has to do with something where I believe others have been making a positive difference in a way I, myself, have not also been able to, it seems the least I can do. I've been largely silent around the Slutwalks. There are a few reasons for that, but the biggest one of all is that what inspired them simply struck me much, much to close to home. So, my silence has not been about nonsupport of the walks. In more ways than one, it's been about my stepping out of the way of them in part based on my own limitations.

If you're triggered by candid stories about sexual or other forms of assault, this may be triggering for you. I know it still is for me, very much so. Telling this sto

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As a sexual abuse survivor, can I only connect to people sexually?

LOVE22 asks:

I was sexually abused, so I was wondering will I only want to find someone who I'm going to stay with for sex?

How Scarleteen and Sex Ed Saved My Life

This is a guest entry from Shanna Katz, M.Ed, as part of the month-long blogathon to help support Scarleteen!

When I was 10 or so, I discovered the wonders of the internet. It was back in the mid-90s, before most people had access, but my father was a computer scientist, and I was rocking out on Mosaic, way before IE or Eathlink or Netscape or AOL made their brands so popular. I didn’t use it for much, as there wasn’t that much info out there pertaining to me, but I did have an email, and learned how to search.

Around the late 90s, I was in my “oh em gee, want to learn everything possible about puberty and sex” and after my parents exhausted the info available at the local library, I was lucky enough to discover Scarleteen.

It was still quite young back then, but it was knowledge, and that was something I was desperately hungry for. More importantly, it was more than just information; it was interactive. I could learn from older teens, from educators, from people my age. I became obs

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How are we supposed to know what’s wrong if we don’t know what’s right?

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. Sade does a lot of community outreach and events that help develop partnerships with individuals and organizations that have similar goals, events like annual sexual health summits, safer sex education parties, advocacy and STD (STI) workshops, and other community projects.

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. I've shortcut my own questions to give her words the spotlight, because she's got some phenomenal things to say that so many people really, really need to listen to.

On what she wants people to know about young wome

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The age of consent... for what, exactly?

tortot555 asks:

I want to know what the government considers sex. When they say age of consent what kind of sex are they talking about?

Should I stay or should I go? My boyfriend disclosed that he has sexually assaulted two kids...

mlti asks:

I am in an extremely confused state right now. I'm almost in the state of breaking down too and I just cannot accept the irresponsible fact that my boyfriend has raped a family member and a girlfriend's sister before who were both kids. It happened two years ago. He told me with all out honesty yesterday about it all since he didn't want to hide it from me as I am his girlfriend. He said that he is an overall changed person now...and he was really terrible to ever thought of doing such things, it was mainly because of his uncontrollably strong sexual desire and that it was harder to find a girlfriend at that time. He promised it will never happen again and he repented. I am very disappointed and terribly upset about this incident. But I weighed the good and bad sides of the problem. To me, it is beyond wrong to do such a thing and unacceptable to me. He also lost his virginity in that way and though guys are less skeptical about their virginity, I really didn't like him losing it that way. But there's nothing I can do about it now...what's lost is lost. On the other hand, he has every right to be forgiven too. This not only happened in the past, there was nothing of that sort after that and at the present moment. If he had repeated it, I wouldn't be so tolerant. He also chose to tell me the honest full truth even though he knows I was gonna be terrified. Furthermore, we are already planning a future together and we love each other very much. What should I do? Should I move forward, focus on us now and the future as well as forgive his past mistakes...or stop being with him? I really need some good advice.

Why I Deeply Dislike Your Older Boyfriend

There doesn't seem to be a week that passes at Scarleteen where we're not helping a user who is in some kind of crisis -- and often a whopper -- with an older male partner: pressured sex or a sexual abuse, a pregnancy scare (usually due to the guy having any and every reason why other guys can use condoms, but he's the great exception to every rule), a newly-acquired STI (again with the condom refusals, sometimes paired with lies about testing and sexual history), an abusive relationship (and often combined with a pregnancy scare, pregnancy or STI), isolation from friends or family (often beca

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