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The problem that needs to be fixed is not kick all the girls out of YA, it’s teach boys that stories featuring female protagonists or written by...”
I will be a junior in high school next year, and because I’ve been lucky to stumble on a lot of really great sex-positive resources, I’ve learned I have a pretty strong interest in sexuality—as in, studying it/doing something in it as a career. However, getting information about this field is much more difficult than, say, engineering or law. What are jobs within this field, what are areas in college/majors you’d advise, and what are some ways I can get involved now, as a minor? My areas of interest are not really in the medical field—I’m more interested in counseling, giving advice, activism, and education
Also, do you have any advice for telling people about my interest? Right now the only person who knows is my boyfriend, because it’s really difficult for me to trust most other people to not equivocate wanting to study sexuality with being obsessed with having sex. Esp my parents, who are politically liberal in every way except in their parenting. They ask me what I want to do with my life really often, and it’s kinda stressful to not be able to talk to them.
Sam W replies:
Hello Me-from-the-past, I’m glad to see you discovered a means of asking questions of your future self.
I kid, but believe me when I say that your questions strike a chord with anyone who’s found themselves drawn towards sex and sexuality based professions (for the purposes of this articles, I’ll use sex ed as shorthand for all of these jobs, but know that I’m including work such as counseling and activism under that heading). Because wanting to spend your days working with and thinking about sex and sexuality is not a desire that comes with a clear path stretching out before it.
This lack of a clear path is both awesome and terrible. On the one hand, it means that people can come into sex education and related fields from all walks of life, and it means that taking a slight detour doesn’t mean giving up on the path entirely. On the other hand, it can leave people who are just getting started in the field feeling completely lost. So, while I can’t guarantee what your path forward looks like, I can give you some advice on how to get a clearer sense of it.
Read the rest here
In the beginning of a new romantic relationship, our friendships often fall by the wayside. This is common among people of all ages, but it’s usually a pretty easy issue to remedy. If we don’t nip it in the bud, though, it can turn into a more frustrating pattern.
When you’re the friend being ditched, it’s obvious. Many of us unfortunately know the feeling: your best friend who was always there for you got into a romantic relationship and has since basically dropped off the face of the earth. You used to hang out nearly every day: now it’s difficult to even see them for one measly afternoon every couple weeks. Their absence feels purposeful, and it stings. All sorts of negative emotions are brewing.
However, when you’re the friend doing the ditching, you probably don’t even notice at first. The realization may come to you in fragments: for days on end, you’re spending all of your time with your new significant other because it feels like the clear-cut choice. I mean, your friends couldn’t expect you to do anything else, right? Right? You’ve been hoping to meet someone for so long. Now it’s finally happening. How could they be anything less than thrilled for you? Um. Well.
This might be the case in the beginning, but the whole arrangement gets mighty stale after a while. What was cute when you first started dating is now grating on everybody’s nerves. Most friends are understanding at the start, but everybody has a breaking point. When you consistently don’t respond to texts until at least a full twenty-four hours have passed, when you leave every social gathering early to go meet up with your new significant other, when you consistently “forget” to respond to casual invitations for coffee or a movie night…even the most patient among us start to get a little testy.
Odds are, most of us either have been or will be on either side of this dilemma at some point. That is to say, while we may be the ditchee at the moment, we will likely be the ditcher eventually. With this in mind, it’s important we look carefully at both sides without jumping to conclusions or vilifying anyone. It’s not as black-and-white as it might seem.
Whether you’re currently feeling ditched or doing some largely unintentional ditching, there are things you should do and things you should be wary of as you proceed.
Read the rest at Scarleteen
I’m 15. Okay, so I do swimming squad, and sometimes it’s embarrassing wearing bathers, cause of pubic hair. I don’t know how to get rid of it. Like once I was at my friends house, and she is obsessed with sex, so she watches porn, and I saw some too, and the women have no pubic hair whatsoever! And I get really bothered about that. I mean, what if I’m going to have sex with a guy, and he’s like “Eww, you’re all hairy. That is disgusting?” I’m really scared about that. If you can help, it would be great! Thanks!
Sam W replies:
Oh, pubic hair. One of those subjects that, when brought up, generally kick-starts a furious debate about which option (shaved, trimmed, left alone) is the most attractive, the most empowered, the most hygienic, etc. And, depending on how much you follow this debate, you may end up feeling like no matter choice you make, it is somehow the “wrong” one.
So, lets get this clear now: whether or not you decide to shave/wax/otherwise groom your pubic hair is completely up to you. Both in terms of what makes you feel comfortable physically (e.g you find one less itchy than the other) and what makes you feel best mentally. Just like you get to make all those same, open choices about what you do with the hair on your head.
Pubic hair is just another part of your body and one that you get to manipulate or leave be as you wish, anytime.
A word about bathing suits and pubic hair. If you’re someone who finds that your hair isn’t completely covered by your bathing suit bottom, you may feel like your groin is surrounded by flashing neon lights reading:
But, in all honesty, other people are probably only noticing them barely or not at all (especially since the same is probably true for them and their pubic hair). For real. Keeping that in mind may help you feel more comfortable.
If you’re still not super comfortable with how prominent your pubic hair is, but you don’t want to deal with shaving, you can always try out a swimsuit with “boy cut bottoms,” as they provide more coverage in that area.
Now, onto your bigger worry that having pubic hair will cause a future partner to be disgusted by you. There’s a few parts of that worry that I’d like to address.
Read the rest here
I am 15 years old and I have only made out once. I do not know the person I made out with, and I don’t exactly remember what it was like. I want to make out with more people, but I am afraid I will not be good at it, I also don’t want to embarrass myself with the person I do make out with. Another thing is, what if the person I do make out with tries to do more with me than I am ready? What should I do and how do you recommend getting over these fears of mine? Thank you!
Heather Corinna replies:
Intimacy is often awkward. And that isn’t a bad thing.
In some ways, I’d even say it’s always awkward, in the sense that it’s never really something that’s exactly easy, especially when we’re just starting to get intimate with someone, rather than when we have been for a long time. Getting and being close to each other physically and emotionally always has its challenges and ways where we make ourselves vulnerable: if it didn’t offer those things, few people would be very interested in sex or other kinds of intimacy in the first place. Getting and being close to each other is a constant process of learning — about the other person and about ourselves — and growth, and learning and growing, especially around things or places that are deep and personal? Awkward. When we learn to walk, we fall over a lot, we’re shaky in our legs, we’re uncertain in our balance. Same goes for learning to be intimate.
The places we usually truly and deeply connect with other people are also most often our more imperfect places, or in our awkward moments. This is why you might hear professional performers say they have this amazing, intimate relationship with their fans, but if you ask them who their most intimate relationships are with, they’re not going to say it’s with their fans. They’re going to tell you it’s with the people who also know them when every step is not rehearsed, the spotlights and makeup are not on, they don’t have staff managing their every move and word, and they’re not having to put so much thought into what they do, but can instead just get comfortable and be who they are, even if they say dumb things out loud sometimes or fall on their faces walking across a room.
One of the benefits of intimacy when it’s right for us is that it can afford us the very fantastic opportunity to be awkward — to be human — and have that be totally okay. Making out with someone isn’t the same thing as say, giving a public speech on television or interviewing for a job: the stakes are a LOT less high and the environment should be a lot more forgiving. I know sometimes it can feel like the stakes are just as high, especially when we’re new to it, when we imagine worst-case scenarios, or when we really, really, really want someone to like us who we like, but the stakes with this stuff really shouldn’t be or feel that high. And in real-deal life, when we’re being intimate with people who care about us, not the super-scary stuff we imagine where our whole world ends from one clumsy kiss, the stakes really aren’t that high. We can fumble and it really will not be a huge deal unless we make it one.
My pitch around worries about sex and intimacy being awkward is for people to try and make peace with awkwardness, rather than trying to avoid it. I suggest that for a couple different reasons. For one, it is largely unavoidable, and I like to avoid getting people invested in fruitless efforts. But experiencing, getting through, accepting and, even more, embracing awkwardness can offer us some potentially positive things. For instance, we can learn to be a little less fearless and afraid of life and living as a whole: we can be more open to taking positive risks that get us and others the good stuff. It can help us get closer with people we want to be close to and have the people who know us know the real us, which is much more valuable to us and them than having them know a persona or only know us when we are trying to be perfect.
When you’re in a time of life like adolescence where it can feel like awkward and unsure is pretty much your EVERY freaking moment, I get that all might seem a bit too rosy. This can be something a lot easier to recognize in hindsight then when you’re in it, and embrace when you feel a little more sure of yourself. At the same time, I still think it’s within reach for you now.
Think about some of the biggest laughs you ever had with friends or family. Or about how you felt with a best friend when they were willing to share something with you they felt embarrassed about they didn’t with anyone else in the world. Or, if it’s happened, when someone told you one of the things they found most beautiful about you was something you actually feel insecure about. Awkward, but awesome, right? That’s the good stuff. That’s the stuff that’s most unique about us and all the millions of moments that make up our lives. So, I don’t know about you, but I’m always cheering for Team Awkward. (And I say this to you as someone who HAS had very awkward and embarrassing moments even when doing things like large-scale public speaking, so if it makes you feel any better, know even that is something most of us can get through and eventually feel okay about.)
I also think that one of the ways we can know that someone we’re choosing to get intimate with — whether we’re talking about making out or way more than making out — is a good choice for us is when we feel pretty okay about potentially fumbling, or things being awkward or embarrassing. In other words, even if and when we still feel a little uncomfortable, we feel safe, we feel like we can trust the other person not to humiliate us or be a jerk, we feel like we’re vulnerable, but that’s something we’re open to and think the other person is likely to handle well. If we don’t feel like that, chances are good that a big part of why is that we know in our heads, hearts or guts, that that person isn’t or might not be someone to be intimate with. These feelings of discomfort or fear when they happen can be great helpers in choosing who to get close to and who to keep your distance from.
Do I expect you to be excited at the prospect of things feeling awkward or you maybe feeling embarrassed or uncertain sometimes? Nope. But my hope is you can get to a point where you feel pretty okay about it happening now and then, because it’s going to.
(The second half of the answer lives here.)
How do I know if my relationship is purely based on lust? I am unsure about the difference between “love” and “lust”. I really really adore my boyfriend, but I wouldn’t call it love yet. We’ve been together almost a couple of months now and I already trust him a lot, he is such a gentleman to me and I even feel ready to have sex with him. But I wouldn’t say I was in love yet. How do I know? Thanks :)
Sam W replies:
The good news is, you’re definitely not the first person to ask this question. People have been trying to parse out what, exactly, constitutes love for most of human history. And who can blame them? Loving someone, and feeling loved in return is, in it’s best form, a really wonderful emotion. And most of us don’t want to miss out on experiencing it. So we look for a formula, an equation, some ultimate, objective definition that will tell us that what we are feeling is capital L Love. But love is more complicated than we’d like it to be, and that’s what makes your question tricky to answer.
Can you guess where I’m going with this? Greece. Greece is where I’m going with this. Because the Greeks, instead of focusing on the idea of one, true version of love, acknowledged that there were many different kinds of love. Now, I am willing to bet that you kind of knew this already. For most of us, the love we feel for a parent, or a close friend, feels somehow distinct from the love we associate with romantic relationships. The Greeks recognized this diversity of loves. For instance, they had a type of love called eros (or eratos in modern Greek). This love can refer to erotic desire and passion or it can simply mean a deep or intimate connection. One thing to notice about this definition is that doesn’t put sexual desire in a separate category from love. And that ties really importantly to your question about whether or not what you’re feeling is “purely” lust.
Lust is often thought of as a less complex emotion than love, because we see it as being “only” about sex. That it’s purely a physical desire, based on how attracted we are to someones body. But, even sexual attraction is variable and personal, and the equation for lust isn’t always as simple as “I think person x is super sexy, ergo I wish to climb them like a tree.” I would argue that, for many people, sexual desire is not purely physical, and that it also has an emotional component.
For instance, I have known many guys whose physical traits made them lust-worthy (by my standards), but who I never actively felt lust for because I found them to be jerks. I couldn’t uncouple the personality from the body. Some people can, others have an even harder time doing so than I do. There can be instances where you care about someone a lot and are comfortable and happy having sex with them but it doesn’t feel like love to you. And you can have a reverse scenario where someone has all the traits you look for and love in a person (brains, a sense of humor, charming smile, etc) but you’re just not feeling any spark of desire. Attraction is weird like that.
Read the rest of the answer here.
"I am 18 and my most recent ex is 19. I’ve never had intercourse, but had oral with 8 different girls. My recent ex-girlfriend had sex only 1 time with her ex-boyfriend, her only serious boyfriend before me. I left her this week because she has had sex. Actually, I’ve left all these girls because they weren’t virgins. I just want to find someone with equal life/sexual experience. In her eyes, I’m not Mr. Perfect either and have a lot of experience, too. Oral sex is still a significant sexual act in her opinion. She also considers the score even between us. I understand oral sex is serious enough to be a deal breaker.
She is the most compatible person I’ve ever been with. Also, she has treated me the best of any other girl. She wanted to marry me in the next few years. Do I have too much sexual experience to complain that my girlfriend is not a virgin? Would you call the score between our past sexual life experiences nearly equal? Am I wrong for leaving? What would you think if you found out your boyfriend/girlfriend had oral sex with 8 other people before you? I’m dying for your honest opinion on the above questions! Thanks a million times! I appreciate the help!”
Sam W replies:
I’m going to answer your first question last.
What would I, personally, do if I found out my partner had engaged in oral sex (or any other kind of sex) a certain number of times? I’d figure their sexual past is theirs to judge as they please and would hope they thought the same way about my past.
I would want us to discuss our sexual histories, but my primary concerns in that would be if there are possible STI risks to be aware of, any activities that need to be avoided or managed in specific ways due to past abuse or assault, and I’d also just want to do that kind of sharing because that tends to be part of intimacy with a partner. So, I’m obviously not going to advocate complete disinterest in your partner’s sexual history. However, I’d suggest any of us think about what interest we have in it is, and how much we’re making something that isn’t about us — another person’s past life — about us.
But my (or anyone else’s) reactions to a partner’s past can’t tell you what’s right for you here. Your beliefs are what count here, beliefs that you are, by all means, entitled to hold. However, it sounds like you may be holding some of those beliefs partly because you have some unhelpful and even inaccurate frameworks around sex bouncing around in your head.
The biggest reason that a “scoring” model of sexual experience is unhelpful is because sex doesn’t actually work that way. There isn’t a committee off in a room somewhere deciding that penile/vaginal intercourse is worth 10 experience points, oral sex is only worth 1, and therefore your ex had a higher score than you. Sex acts do not have absolute values which, by extension, means that people cannot and do not have a universal sexual score that they can soundly compare to the scores of others.
The issues of the scoring model apply to the idea of virginity as well. Despite what many of us are led to believe, virginity is not a concrete, measurable item that is lost when you do a certain act. Instead, it’s a social concept with a flexible and highly variable definition based on an individual’s own values, experiences and ideas (sometimes including their ideas about experiences they, themselves, have not even had). While you are defining your ex as being not a virgin because of her experiences, there are plenty of people who would perceive you as not being a virgin, either. After all, you have both chosen to engage in sex — oral sex is a kind of sex, just like intercourse is a kind of sex — and again, there’s no committee to decide these things, which means it’s up to us, individually, to navigate and define them.
What this boils down to is that people get to decide for themselves what sequence of sexual activities they’re comfortable with and what those activities do mean or have meant to them, uniquely. There are folks for whom intercourse, for example, is something they will do with any sexual partner, but oral sex is reserved for people with whom they have a certain type of connection. This progression can change depending on the partner they have at that moment, or changes in a whole range of circumstances.
Put another way, if there is a sound way of valuing or weighting different sexual activities, it’s a value each person puts on each activity, for themselves, and about themselves, not a commonly held ranking list that everyone knows, understands, and agrees with, or that it’s really fair for others to put on someone else.
Read the rest from Sam here at Scarleteen.