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How many teenagers truly NEED sex education? Surely they know what they are doing, are practicing safe sex, having good boundaries, and making sure they are engaging in partnersex for the right reasons! Why am I so sure of these things? Because I was a teen who did all of these things, and I NEVER had Scarleteen! In my day we learned about sex the old-fashioned way, from our parents,schools, and churches! AND WE LIKED IT! None of this fancy “interweb” for us!
Everyone’s parents teach them to respect their bodies from the time they are tiny children – right? All parents pass on the message that “your body belongs to you and YOU choose what to do with it” and follow it up with a respect for boundaries! And what parent does not tell her child that she is allowed to tell someone NOT to touch her, for any reason? If parents did not do this, we might see an epidemic of sexual abuse in this country – as if!
It is just good parenting to teach children proper names for anatomy, including the names of the genitals of BOTH sexes, and making sure to include the clitoris, vulva, AND vagina! All parents explain the mechanics of sex to children in an age appropriate, truthful, non-judgmental, scientifically accurate manner! I mean, if parents can get children to understand the logistics of a fat man delivering presents to millions of children in one night, surely they can do the same with a matter as important as sexuality!
Parents and caregivers approach childhood masturbation and sexual exploration with a healthy attitude towards privacy AND encouragement of pleasure! Only in ancient times did people try to convince children that masturbation was evil and destructive, and that hellfire and brimstone awaited those who touched themselves! We live in an age of enlightenment where people recognize the need for children to develop their sense of sexuality for themselves BEFORE they try to share it with others.
While the role of parents, families, and religious communities is to provide our youth with a strong foundation for creating sexual values that work for them, schools focus on the public health perspective of youth sexuality. Thank goodness that all of our youth have access to healthcare and information on contraception, disease prevention, and the range of variety in sexual orientation, gender expression, and healthy relationships!
Can you IMAGINE what it would be like to live in a society that did not train its members to be responsible sexual partners? Where variety was discouraged? Where people were encouraged to lie about who they were rather than be different? Where teens regularly face socially and institutionally accepted harassment for being 10% of the population? Where people learned how to be sexual from “Cum Sluts 2: Electric Boogaloo” instead of real live people they trust? INCONCEIVABLE!!!!!!!! There would be pandemonium – everything from girls becoming young mothers, STDs running rampant, sexual assault in high numbers, and even kids killing themselves rather than be honest about their sexuality!
If we lived in a society that sent mixed messages to youth about sex, pleasure, relationships, and their place in the world, I could see the need for an organization that has been the premier online sexuality resource for young people worldwide since 1998 and provides free, inclusive, comprehensive and positive sex education, information and one-on-one support to millions, and has never shied away from discussing sexuality as more than merely posing potential risks, but as posing potential benefits, something rarely seen in young adult sex education.
But let’s get real here – that’s about as likely as a creationist being healed from demons, shooting wolves from a helicopter, promoting abstinence while her own teen daughter is pregnant, being part of a failed presidential team, quitting her job, and STILL maintaining relevance in national politics!
*For the sarcasm impaired, here is the bottom line. Scarleteen talks to teens and young adults about sexuality in a respectful, truthful manner that seeks to honor where that person is on their sexual journey while at the same time encouraging responsibility and self-respect. And they do it on a shoestring budget of less than $70,000 per year.
To put my money where my mouth is (Is there a fetish for that? Putting your mouth on money? I guess now that I have thought it someone has made porn about it!) I pledged $20 per month to Scarleteen myself.
The September issue of The Humanist contains an interview with a woman who is witty, intelligent, a humanist, lover of science, former nurse, a feminist, and just happens to be a porn star.
Marie Hartman graduated with honors from San Francisco State University and is the author or coauthor of several books published by major publishing houses under her stage name, Nina Hartley. She is also the star of more than 600 adult films spanning three decades. In addition, Hartley is a humanist, a proud atheist, and a vocal feminist. . .
The Humanist: I’m curious about your hobbies and education growing up. You mentioned that your grandfather had a PhD in Physics. Were science and medicine an important part of your life?NH: Both of my parents are science folks. My mother was a chemist and statistician for the State Department of Public Health and my dad has a good layman’s understanding of science and biology. I loved all natural science as a child and wanted to be Jane Goodall when I grew up. I especially liked human biology and anatomy. I’m an RN with a BS in nursing and I love science to this day. I keep up with the latest advances in science and enjoy physics, biology, psychology, brain science, and more.
The Humanist: You weren’t raised in a religious home, but one full of values. For the religious, values and religion are synonymous. Could you explain the difference?
NH: We were taught social justice at home. My maternal grandparents were early supporters of civil rights in Alabama, where my mother is from. As secular Jews (my grandfather refused Bar Mitzvah) they were already a minority, but when my grandfather turned to socialism for its sense of social justice it put the family in jeopardy and they were subject to harassment by the Ku Klux Klan. My grandfather almost lost his life to goons.
This sense of social justice carried over into my parents’ marriage, and I grew up participating in civil rights marches and anti-war demonstrations. There was never any mention of God as a reason to do right. It was just the right thing to do. I feel strongly to this day that right and religion don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
As a believer in evolution, we can “take the best” from religion and “leave the rest.” We no longer need the story of “God” to explain why the rain falls, or the wind blows, or spring comes again each year. I’m comfortable with there being things about people or the world that I can’t know, or that we don’t know yet. I’m fine with life as we know it being random or an “accidental” result of chemical and physical processes.
For the full text of this truly delightful article, go to The Humanist website.
With all the controversy going on between “accommodationists” and “asses”, a new friend I met this weekend at the Center for Inquiry, Randy Pelton, sent me a message with one piece of the puzzle we are ALL missing. He says it beautifully, and has given me permission to share.
“Hello Heidi. We met and spoke very briefly this weekend at the CFI conference in Amherst. Randy Pelton is the name. I was the one who spoke to you about the ethical and moral dimension of the snark in the skepticism movement.
Greatly enjoyed your talk and allow me to reiterate my agreement with your main thesis that the snarkiness needs to end. But I think it needs to end less because of the image problem it presents and more so because it demeans real humans.
It is easy to dismiss a person via electrons when you have never met the person, never seen them face-to-face, never had to actually confront their humanness. We all, regardless of what label we place upon ourselves (atheist, skeptic, freethinker, humanist, materialist, naturalist, etc.) need to approach every human and conversation with them from an ethical posture.
Every person needs to be accorded a modicum of respect and dignity. I am a humanist and this conviction threads deep into my emotional, rational, and intellectual marrow.”
Thank you Randy, for this. People like you inspire me to be a better person.
I have nice boobs. Very, very nice boobs in fact. I also like to show my nice boobs and I like it when people look at them. Generally, my goal with showing my boobs is two-fold: 1) everyone in the world will fall madly in love with me and my boobs and 2) I will not look like an apple on sticks.
So surely this means I am whipping those sweater puppies out today for Boobquake right?
No. Boobquake bothers me. And not for the reasons many people think.
First, I hate empty protests. You can only raise awareness so much before you need to act. And raising awareness with people who are already aware is just preaching to the choir.
I had this argument with people about the “green screens for Iran” and the debate about calling for the arrest of the Pope. Talking about things all day long is great and can make you feel good and smart. But to accomplish anything in this world, you have to do work. And do you know why its called work? BECAUSE IT IS WORK!
Social justice movements are not fun. I wonder how fun it was for Rosa Parks to sit in the front of that bus, without even an iPod to block out the people screaming at her? I wonder if Malcolm X was just tempted to wear a t-shirt with a witty saying instead of standing up in front of people who wanted to kill him? Maybe Martin Luther King would have accomplished just as much with an Equality Ho Down in Alabama? Or maybe instead of collaborating with Theo Van Gogh on the film Submission (for which he was ultimately murdered) Ayan Hirsi Ali could have just gone to Cabo for Spring Break and convinced some of the Girls Gone Wild crew to help her write Koran verses on naked young white women? Not so powerful, is it?
Aside from the fact that it could be considered not only EXTREMELY culturally insensitive for American women to shove our freedom in the face of Iranian women, how many of the women who participated in Boobquake normally dress modestly? Based on comments, not many. Many of the women just seemed so excited to have a day to “show off the girls!”
And therein lies my second point. EVERY DAY should be a day when you feel comfortable expressing your sexuality and seeking sexual attention. Why has this event taken off like it did? Could it be that there is STILL shame in women expressing their sexuality? Of course there is!
But you don’t need a fake protest, catcalls from supportive men, alcohol, or the approval of your friends to be sexual. If you dress in a sexual manner, some people will think you are slutty. If you dress in a modest manner, some people will not give you the time of day. But the way we use Halloween, Girl’s Night Out, and now Boobquake as holidays in which “good girls” are given permission to be sexual pisses me off. You don’t NEED permission. You just need courage, and the willingness to take responsibility for your decisions. Part of that responsibility means being willing to give up the labels of good girls and bad girls, and just be.
Sexuality is a part of each of us, and people should feel comfortable expressing that in ways they find comfortable. Just don’t hide your need for sexual expression under the guise of the greater good. Because when you do so, you imply that sexual expression for its own sake is invalid. And to me, the greatest reason to be sexual is the pleasure of sexuality itself.
I was not aware that women like this existed in my state. I am so thrilled that I am considering driving an hour and a half JUST so that she can be my vagina doctor. It would be an honor to receive a pap smear from this lady
First things first. In writing about an argument between women in my previous post, I gave the post just about the worst possible title I could have. I apologize for calling it a catfight. It demeans the women involved and was the result of a creative fail, not an attempt to be snarky.
Now the title to THIS post?? Mildly snarky, and if you have seen the movie, could be possibly construed as homophobic.
See?? Not me.
While the majority of the response to my previous post has been positive, I have received a few very impassioned responses on both sides. One side is upset that I have said these things (?) about Skepchick considering some of them are my friends, that I even dare to talk about this considering how much I write and talk about sex, and that I am allowing a supposed personal vendetta against the Skepchicks to get new life.
The OTHER side is hoping I will create the anti-Skepchick, fight Rebecca in Las Vegas, and expose her as the supposed downfall to feminism that she is.
There comes a moment in every parent’s life when your child asks you
the question you most feared hearing from your dear one’s lips.
“Where did people come from?”
“You mean babies? Well, um, first the man takes his penis and . . .”
“No, no, I mean the very first people. Where did the first people on Earth come from?”
I was dumbfounded. What could I say? I knew this moment was coming
and yet was completely unprepared. I would be more than happy to
discuss sex with him, but evolution? How could I explain evolution to
my three-year-old when I myself was fuzzy on the process? I was, after
all, the product of the South Carolina public education system.
And that is when I said the worst possible thing any parent can say
to a child asking about this controversial subject. No, I did not tell
him that we came from God or that we were planted here millennia ago as
an extraterrestrial experiment. I told him something much, much worse.
SO I was called a concern troll and a spammer for posting my opinions about the sexism/anti-vaxxer/skeptic brouhaha on Respectful Insolence yesterday. I had to look up what those meant, as I have not studied the rule book on internet posting as deeply as many others have. Why do I get the idea that much of the internet is composed of old D&D people who love their rule books?
Anyway, I was called a spammer because I posted on more than one site at once about the same thing. I am apparently the world’s laziest spammer. Today two sites, tomorrow THREE! Before you know it, the all of Al Gore’s creation will be MINE!!!A concern troll is someone who derails an argument with concern for the other side. Actually, I was trying to put the pro-vaccination movement BACK on track to what it needs to be about, science and vaccines. So here is my last comment, because I seem to be a masochist and had to get back in it. Which is kind of weird, because submissive yes, masochistic no and those . . . Never mind, we are not talking about sex, we are talking about vaccines!
Orac, you are right. It did look like I said you specifically called her
a slut. I apologize. My wording did indeed paint ALL skeptics with the
same brush stroke. It was not what I meant to say, but what my wording
Chris, I did read the blog entry, and all the comments. And you and I
agree that we need to focus on attacking the issues and not the people.
We also agree that skeptics are not immune from criticism.
The reason I posted on this site, as well as Skepchick (you said there
were more, I have honestly forgotten if there were) was that the issue
of sexism and disgusting personal attacks was raised. That is the issue
I commented on. They are not ok from either side.
When people who are neither skeptics nor anti-vaxx search for
information on whether or not to vaccinate their children, they want
facts and advice written in a way that neither offends them nor makes
them feel stupid. I am a pro-vaccination mother of two who in the
trenches EVERY DAY with mothers making decisions about whether or not
to vaccinate. I post about it on my FB page, talk about it with female
co-workers, and educate about it with breastfeeding and mother’s
I am confused as to why I would be labeled a spammer or concern troll,
when my concern is and always has been, on how to increase the number
of children vaccinated. That’s it, bottom line.
And when ANYONE, anti-vaxxer or skeptic, uses sexist and misogynistic
attacks on a woman for her opinions, other women will get turned off.
And in THIS country, who is still responsible for the majority of
decisions made about children and their health care? Women.
My mistake is clearly that I have chosen the wrong forum to discuss
this on, and not followed the rules you have set up on your forum. That
is tacky and rude on my part.
But please, do not discount my sincerity at wanting to increase the
number of women who hear the pro-vaccination message and choose to
protect their children and mine.
A Kansas City clinic has set a disturbing precedent by kicking out a two-year old boy because his mother had failed to follow childhood vaccinations schedule guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You know, I guess I should not expect more from a blog entitled Survival Station, but I would have thought that the most likely libertarian leaning writers of this post would have thought it completely proper for a PRIVATE pediatric practice to decide who their patients will be.
Also, in this post, they say they do not understand what the practice means when it states it is doing this as a protection for others coming to the clinic. The author states that since everyone else is vaccinated, what harm would these unvaccinated children pose?
When children who have immune disorders or are too young to be vaccinated are UNABLE to be vaccinated, they need to NEVER come into contact with people who have the diseases that vaccines prevent, like whooping cough. If you bring your unvaccinated child to a pediatric clinic, and YOUR child has whooping cough, your child can spread it to the weaker patients.
Besides, with health care being a free market, it's not like you can MANDATE doctors to provide care when to do so would be disruptive to their profits.
I recently attended The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas. It is the world’s largest gathering of skeptics, with about 1,007 in attendance this year. It was a wonderful event, and though I was there only for 52 hours, I met many lovely people and had “much excitement”.
Less than lovely was the fact that the majority of the speakers were male, and that two of them said things that were stupid, if not downright offensive. Bill Prady, creator of the Big Bang Theory sitcom, apparently made a joke implying that it was not worth it to try to teach “beautiful women” the difference between astrology and astronomy. Even more upsetting was the fact that Brian Dunning of Skeptoid thought it hilarious to replace the photo of a Russian cosmonaut in his presentation with a more attractive woman because the Russian was too ugly. Right.
After TAM, a few blog posts were made about the incidents, as well as the a dress of the women attendees at TAM. One blogger, Barbara Dreshcer of ICBSEVERYWHERE, commented that one of the female attendees was clearly inappropriately dressed for the event in fishnets, short shorts, and spike heels. This led to a post on Skepchick, where Carrie discussed that post AND the incidents at TAM. Barbara Dreshcer has since apologized for that remark and I believe her sincerity. The comments on the Skepchick page, however, are very interesting.
It appears that many people are of the belief that when presenting yourself, if you include your sexuality in the presentation, you should not be surprised when that is the only aspect that people respond too. Honestly, THAT would surprise me. I often dress in a cleavage displaying manner, for two reasons: 1) I have a great rack and 2) I look like an apple on sticks if I do not define my bustline. I do not mind when men (AND WOMEN!) look at my cleavage; like great art I WANT it to be admired. However, like great art, there is also a look but don’t touch policy.
I sometimes wonder if THAT is not the reason for the hostility from men regarding provacative dress. It seems to anger the penis driven part of the brain that BOOBS ARE DISPLAYED AND IN TOUCHING VICINITY, but they are not allowed to touch them. Like a dirty trick that makes the reptilian brain very mad.
I can not speak for other women, but when I dress in a sexy manner I am fully aware of the effect it has on people. I like it, I am somewhat exhibitionistic, and enjoy showing off my attributes. Why is that a personality flaw? Lord knows many of the male presenters at TAM were swinging their “fame” around for all the ladies to admire, but THAT appears to be completely acceptable!
Are we supposed to hide our sexuality and display it only for those we are going to have sex with? Also, why can’t you look at my boobs AND listen to me talk? I enjoy sending and receiving sexual energy from other people, even those I am not intimate with. If this bothers you, just move along. But don’t dare think that you are smarter than me because cleavage distracts you. Because if you think my tits are big, you should see my brain :)
At what point is my cleavage offensive and distracting????
Picture A – What A Nice Wholesome Skeptic – She Must Be Smart!
Picture B – How did THIS girl get into TAM? Maybe she is lost! I will go tell her that she has pretty eyes!
Picture C – WHORE!!! EVIL SLUT!! TEMPTRESS TRYING TO DISTRACT US FROM THE IMPORTANT WORK OF HUNTING GHOSTS AND PERFORMING MAGIC!!!!!!!! BURN HER!!!!!!!!!!
Just in case you could not tell, my IQ stayed the same the ENTIRE time, no matter how much cleavage was showing. How much did yours change while looking at them?
On a Skepchick, a skeptical blog that I frequent, there was a question posed about spanking children. Was it ok to do so? What does it teach children? Is it an effective tool in the arsenal of parenting?
And here is was response:
I believe that it is never acceptable to hit a child. My job as a parent is to raise my child to be an independent person and thinker. That said, it is not ok for one person to hit another when they disagree.
I was spanked occasionally as a child, and yelled at as well. I understand the urge to do so to my own children, but triumphing over my instincts is one of the things that got me into skepticism in the first place.
Even for skeptical parents, intuition is NOT a basis for making decisions. Rational thought, and critical thinking are. Children are people, albeit much smaller. It is not ok to hurt other people unless it is in self-defense, bottom line.
When your child goes into the "real" world, they will not be allowed to hit the people they disagree with, nor will they have someone there to "whack" them when they make a mistake. The purpose of parenting is to raise children who can make decisions in a critical manner with rational thought.
Violence as a behavior modification system is neither rational nor ethical. I truly believe that people spank because it makes you feel good to hit something that pisses you off, bottom line.
Now before many of my friends anf family who spank jump on my ass, I do not think that people who spank are wrong, evil, or abusing their children. But I do think its wrong, and I think that it does not work.
My children are no better or worse behaved than children who are spanked. In fact, here is what the research say about spanking:
From the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, Guidance for Effective Discipline (stolen from Skepchick's Elyse):
Despite its common acceptance, and even advocacy for its use, spanking is a less effective strategy than time-out or removal of privileges for reducing undesired behavior in children. Although spanking may immediately reduce or stop an undesired behavior, its effectiveness decreases with subsequent use. The only way to maintain the initial effect of spanking is to systematically increase the intensity with which it is delivered, which can quickly escalate into abuse. Thus, at best, spanking is only effective when used in selective infrequent situations.
Now consensual, sexual spanking between two or more adults? Bring it on!