Beginning in September, I am going to be employed as Residence Don for an all girls floor at a university. I am pretty excited about the job and really would like to make residence life a positive experience for the students I will be living with (about 170 guys and gals in total).
However, there is one MAJOR issue I have with the residence, they offered no sexual assault awareness education for the students. In the 2008-09 school year, there were 3 sexual assaults reported, which lead to criminal charges, and almost all I have talked to who have lived in this residence for multiple years have either been sexually assaulted themselves or had a friend who was while living there.
So, clearly, something is needed to change this residence culture that seems to be conducive to sexual violence.
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!
This Spotlight on Scarleteen interview features the one and only Jacob! Also known as PenguinBoy on the message boards, Jacob is an engineering student living in Leeds, UK. A big influence on his identity, both at the site as well as in person, is his rejection of labels. (You’ll hear more about this soon!) At Scarleteen, Jacob puts his diverse background to use by offering an introspective take on topics such as sexual orientation and relationships, while also being one of the few male volunteers at the site.
Currently taking a break from his studies, Jacob is a Jack(ob)-of-all-trades who manages to fit volunteering into his busy schedule, which includes recently having worked in the neonatal ICU and maternity area of a hospital, regularly creating art work and graphic design commissions, teaching English to asylum seekers and refugees, writing poetry and hanging out with his beloved friends. (Of course, this is to be expected from someone who is such an open, welcoming friend himself– in person and on the boards!)
While Jacob is frank and transparent about many things, it is his unique perspective on the non-importance of labels that is extra special. He offers a truly refreshing take on an age-old dilemma faced by so many young people questioning their sexual orientation. Jacob’s article Living without Labels could be seen as icing on the cake in that it wraps up all those resources while adding a sprinkle of his personal experience. Human sexuality is so diverse. People are as different and unique as snowflakes, if even more so; no one label appropriately describes anyone. Many websites and resources may sponsor that message but few hit the nail on the head as well as Jacob does in his piece.
To use his own words:
But for any of you who have trouble with trying to work it out, who actually undergo stress to fathom what box you belong in or have an inkling that maybe you're over-squeezed to fit in a badly shaped one, I suggest to just think for a moment, that maybe you don’t need a box after all. Like I don’t have to ‘come-out’ and confess that something of myself is different to that which never needed to have been assumed in the first place.
Not long ago, Jacob did come out–- from behind his computer screen–- so we could get to know him better. Indeed, even without the convenience of labels, Jacob peals back the layers to reveal a lot of interesting and new information about himself. Here it is, “straight”-up! Please feel free to comment or ask Jacob any questions directly by leaving a message on this page or in the Staff Stuff area of the message boards.
Without any further ado, let’s get started with the interview!
An extra toothbrush. Check! Enough underwear to go a month without doing wash. Oh yeah. A bedspread carefully coordinated to compliment your roommate’s? Well, maybe not. In any case, your bags are packed, the family van is heaving under all the weight, and you can’t wait to start a new, exciting phase of your life.
But along with all the material items you’re bringing, don’t forget to prepare for the emotional and interpersonal chances and challenges awaiting you.