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.
I was watching a debate about sex education today, one rife with a lot of ludicrous statements, but the statement that quality sex education could not possibly help prevent sexual abuse stuck with me. It was all the more infuriating as someone who knows too well that a lack of knowledge about bodies and sex, and a lack of information about sexual consent and autonomy are some of the hugest reasons why sexual abuse is so prevalent.
Originally written for The Guardian, condensed version can be seen there.
In 2008, over 5,000 UK women under the age of 20 had an abortion that was not their first. As was made clear by the alarmist headlines following the publication of those numbers, this is a big concern for the public.
As someone who was all but completely celibate throughout high school and this was not at all by conscious choice, I can tell you that I often found it frustrating to deal with the fact that a lot of teenagers were under- or mis-informed about safer sex, that a lot of teenagers were sexually active, and that a lot of politicians and think tanks believed in stanching teenage sexual activity entirely. I was fourteen when I started listening to Loveline (though I didn't always agree with Dr. Drew) and it began my path of sex-pertise (as it were). I was eager to get informed.
That's the verbatim response to the question "What if I want to have sex before I get married?" in "No Second Chance," a film that is part of Sex Respect, an abstinence-only program.
This particular message in the video, that sex (and only sex outside of heterosexual marriage) equals death is a common thread in many, if not most, abstinence-only curricula and programs. I figured it was high time we just unpack it, take a good look at the real deal, and be done with it.
In case it isn't obvious from the message boards and our peer-written content on the site, peer-based sex education and support is really important to and at Scarleteen. While I love my job as a sex educator who is an older adult, and think there's a lot of value in my doing this work, at the same time I feel like there's an extra power and a special kind of support with peer-to-peer education and interaction that I can't do.