Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sex Positive Sex Ed

After learning about the explosion of the violent porn market from Robert Jensen and how our culture's obsession with sexualizing young girls has impacted our personal intimate and sexual relationships, I have been wondering how we can, as women, men, people who like sex, create an sex positive environment where all people feel empowered and comfortable with their sexuality.

And VOILĂ€! A potential answer to my question! Scarleteen is a comprehensive sexual education site that holds huge amounts of supportive information that, instead of chastising young people's interest in sex, encourages the personal exploration of one's sexuality.

Now this doesn't mean Scarleteen encourages all people to have sex all the time, like the media does, it is simply a non judgmental resource that addresses all types of questions about sexuality that young people might have. Instead of condemning sex, sexual identity, and sexual development, as an unspeakable subject, Scarleteen suggests that sexuality is a positive piece of the human experience and supports sexual expression that doesn't involved sexual exploitation or violence or sexual objectification or low self esteem or judgment.

In resorting to popular media for my sexual education, I not only picked up various degrees of what the APA calls "Sexualization by the media" (where girls learn our value comes from our sex appeal, achieving a narrowly defined definition of attractiveness is the only way to create this "sex appeal", and sex is for the pleasure of men and rarely for me) but I was never encouraged to think about my sexuality as an incredibly personal and individual part of my life. Popular media often suggests a narrowly defined version of sexual expression, defined as heterosexual with differing roles for attractive women and attractive men, but never suggests that sexuality varies across a wide spectrum and is different for every individual person.

Being unable to access information about our sexuality, I would argue, compounds the effect of young girls turning to media images that impose a gross misrepresentation of women's sexual needs and ultimately women's self worth on the most vulnerable of female groups, teenage girls.

But I believe this can change with sex positive information, as laid out by Scarleteen...

Scarleteen emphasizes a Feminist Sex Education that, and I quote, "Emphasizes -- for all sexes and genders -- autonomy, personal responsibility, full and active consent, sexuality in the holistic context of a whole, well-rounded life and healthy, equitable relationships self-esteem, nonsubordination and nonviolence, safety, health , happiness and pleasure and very real equality in sexuality, in which equal voice and accord are given to and issues from any and all partners in sexual partnerships and sexual activity."

If this message was spread across every magazine, television set, and Health Class poster in Highschool, I am certain teens and adults would find much healthier ways to express their sexual identities and dialogue about these IMMENSELY IMPORTANT aspect of every person's life.

Scarleteen also provides proof that there are alternative ways of teaching about sex that do not involved judgmental Abstinence Only Education curriculum (that has been proven entirely ineffective even by the Bush Administration who championed it).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween and feminism

This weekend, we all experienced the excitement of Halloween. Whether that meant staying in and watching The Shining, going to a party, or roaming the streets of Hollywood, we saw some scary costumes, crazy costumes, or maybe some interesting ones. Some costume choices on Halloween always bring an element of feminism into question.

As we wandered down Hollywood boulevard, my friends and I couldn't help but notice the ability to make every character or costume item revealing or sexy. We saw sexy nurses, maids, teachers, doctors, and bumble bees? I know this has been a common occurrence for some time now, but it always surprises me how much the holiday has become an excuse for many women to dress in an ultra-revealing way. Interestingly, very few men dress in as revealing outfits as women.

I believe this shows a remaining gender inequality. Why should women be expected to dress in an ultra-revealing way on a holiday that is simply about self-expression. I personally dressed as a crazy old woman and had a great time. Elementary schools, right here in Los Angeles, cracked down on inappropriate costumes this year, including ultra-sexy attire. This is certainly the appropriate action when dealing with 7 year olds in sexy French maid outfits.

Thoughts? I hope everyone reading this had a Happy Halloween!