spotlight on scarleteen

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day 2010!

The Fourteenth of February is a day that can conjure up various feelings, depending on the person and the context. Often people fall into two V-Day camps: those who delight in the sweet celebration and those who wish it were February 14th that happens only once every four years.

Spotlight on Scarleteen: New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year to you from all of us at Scarleteen!

Nearly a month into 2010, we hope your new year has been and continues to be happy, healthy, and all-around awesome. Have you set any New Year Resolutions this year? We have and would like to share them with you!

Over 1000 Scarleteen users are doing just that! Since December 19th and as of yesterday, 1001 visitors to the Scarleteen website have voted in the poll: Which of these is the best sexuality-based New Year's resolution for you? A lot of people will choose resolutions, such as exercising more, getting better grades, and quitting smoking. Those are all noteworthy goals, and big accomplishments when realized, but how about aiming to exercise safer sex all the time, acing a “quiz” of your own anatomy, and quitting bad body image and sexual shame? By setting a sexuality-related resolution, you’re focusing on an important part of you that often doesn’t get the attention (or praise!) it deserves.

THE RESULTS! We’re going to share the results here along with some recommended reading and some teen sex and sexuality-related statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, the Bureau of Justice, Outproud/Oasis, and ChildTrends Databank. All text and statistics following the “Did you know?” heading are directly quoted from the page on what Scarleteen Is.

BE HEARD! In addition to casting their vote, many Scarleteeners have also explained their choice. We encourage you to scroll down to read their resolutions after crunching the numbers.

THE RESULTS!

The poll offered 13 sexuality-based New Years resolutions to choose from: Improving body image and ditching sexual shame came out on top with 18% of all votes. Enjoying oneself more got second place with 14% of the vote, while using birth control or safer sex practices better and seeking out truly desired sexual relationships tied for third place with 11% each. Here is a more specific and all-inclusive break down of the results:

1. To improve my body image and/or ditch sexual shame 18% (182 votes)

Did you know? The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat and between 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or borderline conditions.

One author reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen (Brumberg, 1997).

For further reading, we recommend: An Immodest Proposal and Seven Ways to Love Your Body

2. To enjoy myself more 14% (144 votes)

Did you know? For many teens, sexual information is more often given in a context of sexual entertainment, peer-to-peer bragging or flirtation, and these approaches not only often result in inaccurate information, but in enabling a context of sexual commodity, shame or pressure around sexuality, as well as sexual stereotypes and cultural ideals or collective cultural fears. This given, our approach at Scarleteen is to be friendly and personable, rather than cold or clinical, but to come to sexual education and information in a professional, respectful way, with care for diverse boundaries and viewpoints.

For further reading, we recommend: 10 of the Best Things You Can Do for Your Sexual Self (at Any Age) and Yield for Pleasure

3. To better use birth control or safer sex practices 11% (106 votes)

Did you know? Of the 18.9 million new cases of STIs each year, 9.1 million (48%) occur among 15-24-year-olds. Although 15-24-year-olds represent only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half of all new STIs each year. Half of new HIV infections (about 20,000) each year occur among youth aged 15-24.

Of the approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies that occur each year, 82% are unintended.

For further reading, we recommend: Safe, Sound & Sexy: A Safer Sex How-To and Birth Control Bingo!

3. To seek out the kind of sexual relationships I truly want 11% (113 votes)

Did you know? By their 18th birthday, six in 10 teenage women and more than five in 10 teenage men have had heterosexual intercourse. More than one-half of all teens ages 15 to 19 report engaging in oral sex (55 percent of males and 54 percent of females in 2002).

For further reading, we recommend: Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist, Supermodel: Creating & Nurturing Your Own Best Relationship Models, and Sexual Negotiation for the Long Haul

5. To learn more about my own sexual body and self 10% (105 votes)

Did you know? Knowing, too, that the reality of the way youth most often gets sexuality information -- peer-to-peer -- we do our level best to both moderate discussion to help aid youth in learning how to inform each other better, and do what we can to empower youth to research smartly, ask questions, avoid stereotyping, and communicate with and educate one another with sensitivity and compassion.

For further reading, we recommend: Innies and Outies: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More, Innies and Outies: The Penis, Testes and More, and With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body

...And that's just the beginning! Now please click "read more" below to see to the rest of the statistics and hear what users have to say.

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Mary C.

If you're a regular reader of the Scarleteen blog, then you're probably already familiar with her fierce, fantastic, and, yes, frisky blog entries: Mary C. a.k.a. Mary Lingwall may be a relatively new arrival at Scarleteen, but she's already made quite a splash with some strong stories. Not afraid to push the envelope, Mary's posts are a mixture of fresh personal narrative, social commentary, and academic comparative that is tasty and easy to swallow-- just what the empowered sex-positive educator ordered!

In her first piece, "From Closeted to Comfortable", we accompany her on her journey from the closet as a reluctant masturbator to her dorm bathroom where she unabashedly washes her dildos while holding court with friends. However, that post is not just fun to read but even manages to connect the assiduous with the intense. Mary asserts that she can, indeed, feel comfortable with her whole self, sexual or not. She credits resources like Scarleteen for "reminding me that my sex life is not my defining characteristic and that being kinky doesn’t equate to being degenerate." Then, in "Vajayjays," "Lady Parts" & "Aunt Flow", Mary takes Oprah to task for pussyfooting around using the correct terminology for female genitalia. Indeed, if "even Oprah... who has recently been one of the most beneficially outspoken contenders in the push for medically accurate, full-body sexual education for adolescents... can't say the word "vagina" without becoming uncomfortable", then is it any wonder that it's so hard for legions of girls and young women to do the same? In her most recent entry, Mary explores the intersection between "Feminism and Facials", or how even in the sex-positive feminist blogosphere, certain sexual acts can make people cringe or cry out with contempt; Mary provides an excellent overview on the topic, summarizing many of the pieces out there and stating her opinion, then ultimately leaving it up to the readers to decide where they stand.

Mary is not just a thought-provoking but also a prolific writer. In addition to occasionally blogging at Scarleteen, Mary is a junior Plan II Honors and History major at the University of Texas at Austin, where she can also be found reaching out to her peers as a Healthy Sexuality Peer Educator for UT’s health services, chairing Campus Coalition for Sexual Literacy, and writing for the Daily Texan. While she's currently on hiatus from Scarleteen, hardly surprisingly considering all the great things on her plate, you don't have to wait to read new material if you head over to her DT sex column "Hump Day” or check out her personal journal at Pink Lip Pariah.

I absolutely adore each of those pieces of hers here at Scarleteen and eagerly anticipate the topics Mary will cover in the future; I am also proud to share this recent interview with Scarleteen right now.

Without any further ado, here she is!

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Karyn

If you've ever come to the Scarleteen message boards in a jam or just happen to like reading up on expert sex ed advice, then chances are you already know Karyn a.k.a. Karybu from her compassionate, knowledgeable, and very personalized responses in Ask Scarleteen or Emergencies and Crises. In fact, since 2004, Karyn has been lending her ear and dolling out advice at Scarleteen. Since then, Karyn has earned her college degree, turned her volunteer work here into an awesome career and moved halfway across the world for love, but she still finds time to return to her beloved online home-away-from-home, Scarleteen.

As caring and compassionate as Karyn is, there's so much more to this multifaceted "child of the universe", as she once so fittingly called her personal thread on the boards. To continue a theme of alliteration, some other choice "c" words that come to mind to describe Karyn include Canadian, coffee-loving, committed, curious, and creative.

A Canadian citizen who currently calls Queensland, Australia home, Karyn was born in Ottawa but grew up mostly in Minnesota, then headed to British Columbia for university, and currently resides in Queensland, Australia. Committed to those near and dear to her, whether close or afar, Karyn makes sure to keep up with her great friends and supportive family in Canada despite the 17 hour time difference!

Karyn has a natural curiosity and genuine thirst for knowledge, be it reading everything she can get her hands on or planning on earning her PhD and becoming a professor one day.

Speaking of thirst, Karyn is quite the coffee-connoisseur, so much, in fact, that her board username was inspired by one popular coffee chain.

As for names, creative could be her middle name. Through mediums such as dance and photography, Karyn likes to express herself through visual, kinestitic, and verbal mediums. While I have not yet met her in person, I have vouch for Karyn's eye for photos as well as her sparkling eyes and bright smile which so clearly display her authentic affability.

In addition to her valuable responses in the expert areas of the board, Karyn has started many neat discussion topics, such as one on the Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care, another on dealing with mental illness, and this one that encourages users to share the sweet, simple things in their lives. Karyn also posted her first blog entry last week, a first of a series on her experiences with the Implanon birth control device.

Without any further ado, we proudly present to you Karyn's interview!