Thursday 25 November 2010

Sex Ed: Scarleteen

This web site is an independent source of information about sex which was founded in 1998 by Heather Corinna. Presenting a "sex positive" resource with the tag line "Sex Ed for the Real World", this amazing site speaks frankly of every possible topic connected to sex and relationships. Staffed by Heather and a group of volunteers, the site is apparently viewed by tens of thousands of readers each day, as the site says, between the ages of 15 and 25.

How popular?
The web site ranking company Alexa places this site as 37,230 in the world and 13,086 in the U.S. with 709 other sites linking to it. As a comparison, Alexa ranks Google as 1, Facebook as 2, Yahoo as 4, CNN as 57 and The Washington Post as 332. My humble blog is ranked at 6 million so I would say Scarleteen is up there.

Who is Heather Corinna?
From Wikipedia:
Heather Corinna (born April 18, 1970) is an author, activist, and Internet publisher with a focus on progressive, affirming sexuality. She is a self-described "queer polymath: feminist activist, writer, photographer, artist, educator, Internet publisher, and community organizer."' She was one of the pioneers of positive human sexuality on the Internet.

About Scarleteen
From the About page, this site came from a perceived need. Young people had written the founder for information about sex but there was no place to direct them. Heather decided to create such a resource herself. She provides online static content in the form of articles about sex, health and relationships and interactive areas like message boards where people can ask questions and get answers.

Basing itself on a core idea of "A foundation of equality, respect, dignity, fairness, consent, liberty, freedom of thought and expression and other core human rights", the site endeavours and succeeds in delivering up-to-date information following medically-accurate standards of physical and emotional health and well-being including the understanding and knowledge that development and expression of one's own sexuality is one part of typical human and adolescent development.

The material
As I scan through the various topics, I can see that Scarleteen touches on everything. I am sure that some readers new to the site may blush at the intimate subjects covered here but if any of us think about it, just where the heck does anybody go to get such questions answered? I, for one grew up in the 60's and while we all had to suffer through "health class", I wonder just how we managed to survive lacking the sources of information available today via the Internet. How did any of us find out anything relating to sex? In one way, it all seems amusing: the knowing smile of an adult; the wink and a nudge from a friend but on the other hand, who do you talk to, what resource can you consult?

On the main page, I scan down a list of recent blog posts and see the following subjects:
  • How Do You Masturbate?
  • Squirt: On Female Ejaculation
  • anal sex lowdown
  • A little penis inside my vagina?
  • I'm 14, and a virgin, but can fit fingers inside my vagina: is something wrong with me?
  • Is it safe to have unprotected sex ten days after a period?
  • What is that white fluid that came from my vagina?
  • Sex hurts my girlfriend: how do I fix it?
  • I can't get her to reach orgasm, and I really want her to.
  • Why would intercourse feel good for women?
Obviously we're pulling no punches here - the truth and nothing but the truth - we could say that this is not for the faint hearted.

However there is nothing scandalous here, nothing dirty. The information is delivered in an informed fashion presenting non judgmental ideas of the various aspects of having sex. Without moralizing about having sex or not, the authors try to lay out the facts so the reader can make an informed decision.

In the article Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent, Heather talks about the concept of consent and the fact that sex should be consensual. I find her ideas to be excellent and should probably be mandatory reading for anybody, teenage first-timer or adult, about not just sex, but any sort of relation we have with another human being. One may think this article is targeting teenagers; however I'm sure there are a number of adults who could greatly benefit from re-reading the "rules of engagement" when it comes to dating whether you're twenty, thirty or any age.

Scarleteen exists by funding itself. It is not supported by any government agency or corporation and as such, is not beholden to anybody. What comes out of this model is that the content delivered by the site is in direct response to what the readers want, not what somebody else thinks they want. I would advise you to visit the site, assess their work and if in so doing you see some value, you couldn't go wrong if you donated something to support the service.

Final Word
While the web site was originally set up as a source of information about sex for teens, I find the wealth of information of great value to any and all.

For parents, this could be a resource for preparing to have "the talk". Heck, you could look at the site with your kids together but if that's a tad embarrassing, you could just give them the site's address. However, keeping the channels of communication open would be a recommended course of action.

For adults, well, do I know everything? Nope and here's a way of finding out more. This could be informative for adults, partners and married couples. Just where do you go to get the straight dope about sex?


Wikipedia: Heather Corinna

official web site:
Heather's personal web site featuring her photography and her writing

Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World

All Girl Army
This site is also from Heather Corinna.
A blogger collective of no more than 29 women between the ages of 10 and 25, who identify as feminist chosen via an application process based on their desire to create and nurture women's community, explore feminist issues and their own lives in context via writing and discussion.


No comments: