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I came to know a similar mistake had been made, except that at that time, I didn’t have words to explain it. I learned to live a lie. Pretending to be what you’re not, hoping things will magically fix themselves, seems easier at times. But lies have consequences.

It is unfortunate that Coy’s school has not learned the lesson that so many other aspects of our culture have already acknowledged, that a person’s gender is more complicated than a body part or a chromosome.

Workplaces across this country are recognizing the challenges that their transgender workers face and are removing deeply embedded barriers to health care and wellness benefits. Organizations ranging from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to the Girl Scouts are accepting transyouth, sometimes under fire, treating children based on identify, not body parts.

Transwomen have openly competed in mainstream beauty pageants and have been featured in magazines such as Vogue. Transgender athletes, artists and writers, people in all fields, have shown there is a pathway to a happy, well-adjusted and fulfilling life — not as an “other,” but as the men and women we know ourselves to be.

Apparently none of this matters to the school that denies Coy the use of the girls’ bathroom or to the parents who demonize her and her family. Arguments to treat Coy with dignity often fall on deaf ears. Why? Because discussion of the topic quickly becomes emotional rather than rational.

Read the rest at CNN here.

I’m 23 years old.

Depending on who you ask, I’m a single woman or a wife, “sex-crazy” or sex-positive, a slut or a virgin. Obviously, I can’t be all of these things… but just as obviously, the wide variety of people and institutions I interact with throughout my day-to-day life are defining these terms very differently than I do. So let me be more clear, and maybe help you clear up some of your own confusion about what labels you “have to” use, and what labels you want to proudly claim for your own.

About four and a half years ago, my girlfriend Katie and I had what we would have called our “first time.” Since we’re both women, we don’t have the ease of understanding of what “losing your virginity” that someone paired with another person of a different gender might have. After a lot of conversations, we came to the decision that we didn’t want to be completely naked together until we had a room where we had a right to close and lock the door without anyone questioning us- in other words, until I could travel to her dorm room at her college rather than just seeing each other when we were both on break in our hometown. It was sweet, sometimes awkward, incredibly meaningful, and overall a wonderful “first time.”

But that’s not the end of the story.

Read the rest of this reader-submitted, first-person story about discovering your own sexual identity and what, if anything, “virginity” means to you here.

I’m 16 years old and a virgin and I’m not exactly sure how to masturbate? That might sound weird but I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to do it. I’ve tried fingering myself but it always kind of freaks me out and I stop and it never felt that good anyway. The thought of my fingers being inside myself just weirds me out, even though I know it’s not weird but it is for me. I guess what I’m wondering is, is this normal? And how am I “supposed” to masturbate if it all seems weird to me?
Read the answer here.

When feminists first advocated it in the 1970s, unprettiness was a statement of resistance to being seen as sexual objects. Although they seem bolder than us, radical feminists didn’t stand out as much in their age as we do in ours. Most 1970s women were blemished and hirsute to a greater or lesser extent. My mum never plucked her eyebrows or gave a second thought to her skin type. She washed her face in soap and water and put Astral on her chapped hands in the winter. It wasn’t done for thinking women such as her to focus on their appearance – Susan’s bare face and cheesecloth shirts signalled her seriousness of purpose.

In those days, unprettiness equated savviness – visible evidence that you didn’t buy the beauty myth. Since the beauty industry often was lying back then, it was rational not to heed their warnings about what would happen to women who went their whole lives without cleansing and toning. Unprettiness no longer signals seriousness, just extreme poverty or stupidity. The unpretty are castigated on the grounds there’s no excuse for going out looking crap. There’s so much information everywhere about how to look good, you’d have to be stupid not to manage it, or mad. Thinking women mostly do have elaborate beauty routines – now the industry’s promises are credible, it’s rational to invest money and energy chasing radiance and “forever youth”. We have internalised their edicts – I cleanse, tone and moisturise, but don’t recall ever deciding to.

In this context, the decision not to look nice is even more radical than it was when it was first advocated in the 1970s. Now it signals something different – a resistance to commodification.

The whole piece at The Guardian here.