I don't know about you, but I had to learn the ins-and-outs of sex from my somehow more knowledgeable buddies at a 6th grade cafeteria table. We had all seen the video about puberty, and we were not as totally freaked out when hair grew in weird places, or when we started to smell like B.O, but we were left to our own devices to navigate our complicated and confusing sexual feelings.
The best resources I had at the age of 12 were books my mom bought me about my changing body, since the internet was not yet the sanctuary for embarrassing questions that is it today. Luckily, 8th grade health class taught me something about something, and I knew what a condom was and to be very afraid of STDs, but my friends and I were not satisfied by the scratch-the-surface sex ed, and we were left to learn from personal experience, or the re-telling of someone else's personal experiences, which can be actually terrifying, and also dangerous to not have an informed baseline of honest knowledge on sex.
Sex education is also skewed in a way that makes teens embarrassed and fearful about their sexual urges, which is no help to anyone--especially when there is no shortage of sex in the media that we consume on a daily basis. Without age-appropriate sex education, teens don't know that sex should be a relationship of mutual respect and pleasure, nor do they know what should feel good, or how to make sure they are not somehow compromising their bodies.
That's why Scarleteen is so amazing. The website is full of answers to questions you didn't know how to ask, shared in a language that can help parents and mentors talk to their young loved ones about healthy relationships with their bodies, and other bodies.
"Since 2006 alone, our site has had over one billion hits and nearly 70 million page loads. We have an above-average rate of page reads and amount of time spent at our site: young people spend almost twice as long here as users on Facebook and nine times as long as users on YouTube or MySpace (Nielsen, 2009). We engage in around 5,000 direct conversations with users online per year via our message boards alone. Most users find Scarleteen through search engines or when provided a link or verbal referral from friends, other websites or magazines; parents, guardians and other family members; healthcare providers/clinics or other sexuality/sexual health education programs and resources. Every day, young people and adults who care about them let us know how valuable they find our services."
Obviously, the info they are sharing is needed and useful. Scarleteen not only tackles questions about sex acts, but also about sexuality, gender, slut-shaming and the many emotions of sex.
I want to write this site a love letter.
Check out some of their top topics, accompanied by awesome illos:
The Internet can be a large and unreliable place when you are looking for some thoughtful information around an important and sensitive topics. Scarleteen does a phenomenal job of creating an online space full of compassion, honesty, and of course, incredibly well-informed information.
Sexuality is something we seem to only learn about when it becomes a problem, or we feel we are outside of the norm. Offering and consuming comprehensive information around sex and our bodies combats the alienation most of us have felt at some point in our lives, in helping us realize we are not so different from everyone else.