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This blog post is the first in a series here at Scarleteen profiling young people worldwide who are activists in some way in the fields of sexuality, sex education and sexual health.
Jessica Danforth is a one-person whirlwind for change. The 26-year-old founder of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, with headquarters in Toronto and Oneida, Wisconsin, she travels around North America and internationally advocating for culturally appropriate sex education in indigenous communities. A self-described “multiracial Two Spirit Indigenous hip-hop feminist reproductive justice freedom fighter,” she’s the executive director of NYSHN, the first chair of the National Indigenous HIV/AIDS Council, a North American co-chair of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and has somehow found the time in her seriously packed schedule to edit two books and pick up several awards for her work along the way. I managed to catch up with her during anRead more...
Things slow down a bit here around the holidays. So, this is one of the main times of each year when I try to review all the content we have at the site and map out articles I, and the volunteers, feel we should aim to write or have written to add in the next year.
To do that, I look at the running notes I keep from observing what our users ask for in direct services and our social media; places where they ask for things and I don't feel we have just the right pieces to refer them to, or what we'd want to be able to give when it comes to on-site resources.
I also like to ask our more general readership what they want, too. While our direct services are very busy, they only make up a very small percentage of our daily readers, so we might miss some expressed needs or wants when we pull only from the readers we most often interact with.
What would you like to see here in the next year that isn't here already, or where there isn't as much content here as you'd like?
That can be about:
Have you been through a breakup? Maybe more than one? If you have, you know how awful it can be, and how incredibly rough, especially when you're new to romantic or sexual relationships. Breakups between friends can be just as awful, too.
You probably also know that learning to deal with and get through a breakup is just as much of a learning process as learning to be in relationships is. Sometimes we'll have dealt with loss before breakups, so we have some clues and tools already when it comes to taking care of ourselves. But for plenty of young people, a breakup is a first major loss, and figuring out how to get through feeling so gutted while you're feeling so gutted can be seriously overwhelming.
Friends can be great sometimes, but not so great other times, even when they really are trying to do their best. Plenty of us know that quips like, "You deserved better than her, anyway," "His loss, seriously, you're so much better off," "Now you can go have some fun!" or "Oh, it was onlRead more...
The last section of our recent demographics survey (click here and here for data from the previous sections) was an optional, open section where we simply stated, "If you have any comments you'd like to add about this survey or Scarleteen as a whole, please feel free to add them here."
Of the 419 participants who left comments in this section, most were about Scarleteen as a whole, rather than the survey. The few on the survey itself included a couple concerns about the previous section discussed here, a couple nods of appreciation for the inclusion in the education section of no schooling or alternative education, and two concerns (from people identifying as cisgender) that when we asked about gender, and provided fields for men, women and also trans gender, separately, we were suggesting trans people are neither men nor women. To clear that one up, the opposite was our intent. Our intention was to recognize and validate the many ways people who are not cisgender may and do identifyRead more...
I want to focus this entry on the second of the optional questions in the demographics survey. Of the 2,000 participants who completed the survey, this question was answered by 1,530. The question was this: Since using Scarleteen, which of any of the following has changed for you, and by how much?
We saw a couple comments at the end of the survey, from statistics-focused folks, concerned that our aim was to state that whatever improvements users reported were solely because of Scarleteen. That was never the intent.
The intent in asking this questions was primarily to get a picture of what, if any, improvements relevant to what we address here our users were experiencing which may have been due to using our services or may not have been. What we most wanted to see was not the areas where we may have done a good job or where our users already felt things were going very well for them, but areas where it would seem sound to say we currently are not having the impact we'd like to with poRead more...
Early this year, after a lot of struggling with the tech and funding, we rolled out Find-a-Doc, our database system to help young people find quality, in-person services like sexual and reproductive healthcare, counseling, and LGBT, youth and domestic violence crisis shelters and services. The database includes a rating system so that those who have used the services can add recommendations or comments to help other users choose services, or know things about services from a first-person perspective. As you probably know yourself, we all tend to feel a lot better about using a service someone else has personally recommended or vetted: that's why we set up Find-a-Doc, and did so the way that we did.
We also use the database as staff and volunteers when working one-on-one with a user to help them find in-person services they need. But since it's been slow-going to get the database packed, we still have to spend a good deal of time searching in other ways, which is far less efficient andRead more...
I am 17 now, and started dating this one fellow when I was fifteen. At the time he was 44. Of course, now he's 46, but that's not really the point. He's divorced and has two kids, one son 2 years younger than me, and a daughter the age of my own younger sister (12). I look after them for him sometimes. I feel like I really love him, but I don't really feel the same way about him. I think he's been seeing his ex-wife behind my back, as she is now pregnant and she's not in any other relationships, and Steve (my boyfriend) doesn't really want to talk about it, meaning he acts guilty. Our relationship has pretty much been sex, sex, sex, and me doing stuff for him from day one. I want to get out of this relationship, but I have never been able to stand up to him. I live with him, and I don't have anywhere else to go, as my parents kicked me out some time ago. I've kind of been seeing another guy, who is 19, but nothing really serious. This new guy is American, and he's making a life for himself (in a good university, etc.), so the choice is kind of obvious. But if I try to break things off with Steve, either he gets angry and hurts me (nothing too serious, just bruises) or he swears he'll spend more time with me. Which he doesn't.
Basically, I'm stuck with a man who has been my only sexual partner for two entire years, he's not the nicest bloke around, and he's nearly three times my age (older than both of my parents, too). I don't know what to do, and honestly, I'm a little scared.
On Monday, I talked about some of my own life, and the central, very personal, issue which kept me from attending one of the SlutWalks, an issue which also central to the walks themselves. On Tuesday, I brought up what appears to be a clear misrepresentation by the media, especially visually, of the walks. In both pieces, I expressed unwavering support for the walks.
While I did not agree with a good deal of it, I appreciated Rebecca Traister writing in the New York Times magazine last week.
But at a moment when questions of sex and power, blame and credibility, and gender and justice are so ubiquitous and so urgent, I have mostly felt irritation that stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts is passing for keen retort.
To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial)