Scarleteen Sex Book

// 24 May 2007

This book, written by the founder of US sex education website Scarleteen, looks to me like a must-read-and-pass-on-to-the-kids for any feminists worried about the state of sexual relations between young people, and I’m happy to put my head on the line and say that probably includes all of us. With many parents unable or unwilling to talk openly about sex with their children, sex education in schools patchy to say the least and the constant looming threat of the Catholic Church and other self appointed moral guardians who refuse to face the fact that kids are going to have sex no matter what and our teenage preganancy and STI crisis isn’t going to be solved by sticking our fingers in our ears, humming the Lord’s Prayer and handing out abstinence leaflets (gasp for breath), kids have little sound, practical and egalitarian advice to counteract the sexist and often heteronormative ideas promoted in lads’ mags, pornography and other forms of popular culture like those delightful ho’ dissin’ videos on MTV. Check the blurb:

S.E.X.: the in-depth, feminist and inclusive young adult sexuality guide authored by Scarleteen founder Heather Corinna! Covering everything from STIs to sexual orientation, body image to birth control, masturbation to misogyny, the anatomy of the clitoris to considering cohabitation, and written for you whether you’re male, female or genderqueer; straight, gay or somewhere in between, this is THE everything-you-need, comprehensive, progressive sexuality handbook to get you through high school and college

The website itself looks like a fantastic resource too; considering a typical sex education lesson at my school involved matching up the beginning and endings of the names of STIs (GON- -ORRHEA), handily equipping us to spell them correctly but leaving us unable to recognise or prevent them, it’s certainly something I wish I’d had available to me as a teenager. It includes articles and advice on safer sex, sexual health, masturbation, sexuality, sex and disability, reproductive choice, STIs, relationships, abuse and – particularly important in the US – how to access emergency contraception. All are written from a non-judgemental standpoint that aims to ensure young people are ready to learn to make their own choices. […] One cannot make a decision from a position of informed consent without actually being informed. Quite right.

As for the ever-devisive P word, the main article on pornography, in keeping with the rest of the site, invites readers to draw their own conclusions:

No one can decide for you if it is okay for you to like pornography or not. Whether or not you like pornography and whether or not you decide to make pornography part of your sexual life is a decision that only you can really make. Some people are not comfortable with certain types of pornography. Some people are not comfortable with any type of pornography. Some people are comfortable with all types of pornography. Some people like pornography but choose not to use it for various reasons.

It does, however, mention that some pornography environments may encourage or allow addictive behaviours, misogynistic behaviour, mistreatment or ill treatment of its actors and actresses and while this comes with the disclaimer that Of course, such can be the case with many kinds of work or corporations, this is a darn sight better than many teen magazines’ ’embrace your boyfriend’s porn, he’ll think you’re so hawt’ approach. Here’s hoping the book treats the subject in the same balanced way.

Now excuse me while I go place my order.

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