I’m 16 years old. My boyfriend and I have been together for about 6 months…the first 3 were really challenging and hard, the last 3 have seemed to be smooth sailing. I believe I have found the guy of my dreams (I’m only 16, I know). But he is perfect for me and I love him more than anything in the world.
But there are two problems. For one thing, he is two years older than me and in college…before we got together he was a virgin, and I wasn’t. I constantly receive guilt from him for my poor decision to start having sex when I was 14. I do regret this decision a lot, but there is nothing I can do about it now. I feel like a dirty and irresponsible person with low morals compared to him. I constantly have the complex that I’m not good enough for him. I am not a jealous or controlling girlfriend but I still have my worries.
The other problem is that we don’t tell each other that we love each other. I said it once before I was ready and it caused a lot of problems. The thing is, now I really feel like I do love him, but I’m afraid to tell him because he has told me that although he cares for me a lot, he couldn’t say “I love you” yet. I’m worried that if he doesn’t love me yet, he never will. Please help BG!!
We’ve taken your feelings of “dirty, irresponsible, low-morality” and replaced them with slightly righteous indignation. Can you tell the difference? Let’s watch.
“Hey, boyfriend! The personal decisions I made two years before I met you are not yours to judge. “
In case you didn’t already know this, Scarleteen is the source for real sex education in the real world. It’s deserving of a shout-out of far more than 140 characters; it’s run and supported by people “who want better for young people than what they get in schools, on the street or from initiatives whose aim is to intentionally use fearmongering, bias and misinformation about sexuality to try to scare or intimidate young people into serving their own personal, political or religious agendas.” And right now, there’s a extra push for cash going on to help Scarleteen keep doing the honest, empowering, and irreplaceable work they do. Read recent testimonials such as “How Scarleteen and Sex Ed Saved My Life,” and “Accentuating the (Sex) Positive: Discovering Scarleteen” — and maybe you’ll be inspired to show Scarleteen a little love yourself.
A new analysis of teen sexual behavior in New York City offers some troubling/fascinating/instructive insights — and not just of the “only in New York” variety.
Published in the latest Pediatrics, the study found (for one thing) that among sexually active adolescent boys and girls, nearly one in ten had had a same-sex experience. But how many called themselves “gay”? Well, of the teens who’d had at least one same-sex partner, 38.9 percent answered “heterosexual or straight.” Which is fine in a hey-who-needs-labels sense — and hooray for experimentation, when that’s what it is — but not fine in a hey-who-needs-condoms sense. That is, the study also found that teens reporting partners of both sexes also reported higher-than-average rates of risky sexual practices, such as not using a condom during intercourse.
Hmm. Especially among those in the “I’m not really gay” camp, could there be a related sense that “it’s not really sex”? And does “I’m not really gay” stem from “Gay’s not really OK?” (“Even in New York”?) “These are kids in New York City where there’s more awareness and perhaps acceptance of non-heterosexual behavior, and you’re still finding such high reports of risk behavior and violence,” Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told the AP.
Ah yes, also violence. Students reporting same-sex partners also reported higher rates of dating violence. What’s going on there? Back to the AP:
Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a youth advocacy organization that runs an alternative high school for gay teens in New York City, said the survey results did not surprise him.
Many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives and may experience depression because social stigma, Krever said.
“Young people who are exhibiting characteristics of depression and lower self-worth can indeed place themselves in more risky situations including risky sexual practices,” he said.
1. As advocates continue to stress, sex ed has to focus not on identity/orientation, but on behavior. No matter what you call what you do, it’s safer with a condom.
Do reality shows like Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnant “glamorize” teen pregnancy? That standard hand-wringer has always struck me as weird. Because um, those shows don’t exactly make teen pregnancy/motherhood look awesome. They (unlike, SORRY, Glee) actually make it look pretty crappy — a lot more so than, say, carrying around a sack of flour for a week. Even when cute teen moms glam it up for celeb magazines (which are guilty of overglamorizing post-teen motherhood), teens — who, turns out, are also better at condoms than grownups — still know what’s up.
· Among those young people who have watched MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, 82% think the show helps teens better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.
· 76% of young people say that what they see in the media about sex, love, and relationships can be a good way to start conversations with adults.
· About half (48%) say they have discussed these topics with their parents because of something they have seen in the media.
· 16 and Pregnant got young people talking and thinking about teen pregnancy─40% of those in the treatment group said they talked about the show with a parent, 63% discussed with a friend, and 37% discussed with a sibling.
· 93% of those who watched [a particular] episode agreed (53% strongly agreed) with the statement: “I learned that teen parenthood is harder than I imagined from these episodes.”
This is all information we’re not so sure they’re getting in, say, abstinence-only sex ed — which, while we’re on the subject, glamorizes lies, shame, and fear. (And whose funding just got resuscitated, even as the Obama administration also awarded $155 million in federal grants to support evidence-based, medically accurate sex ed.)
Enough with the mixed messages, as Jessica Wakeman wrote at The Frisky, continuing: “If pregnant teen girls get their moment in the media’s graces, the least we can do is use it wisely. The alternative could be much, much worse.” Of course the media plays a role in the whole teen pregnancy ecosystem, but there are a whole lot of other reasons teens get pregnant, most of which are much, much more complicated and challenging than the simple notion of MTV cause-and-effect (which is exactly why we are reluctant to acknowledge and deal with them). Teens are smarter than we give them credit for. Sometimes, in fact — see phrases bolded above — they just want to talk.
That old adage favored by scientists and ‘60s girl groups — “correlation is not causation, no sir” — seems to have eluded more than a few pundits in our day.
One hasty assumption in particular–that sexy media influences kids to have sex earlier–is being challenged in an article in a recent issue of Developmental Psychology. PsychologistsLaurence Steinberg and Kathryn Monahan revisit a much-cited 2006 study by media expert Jane D. Brown which concluded that exposure to sexualized content on TV, or in music, movies, and magazines, accelerates sexual activity in young teenagers.
Steinberg and Monahan reanalyzed the data of Brown’s longitudinal study, but this time took into account the other dimensions of the participants’ lives that may have influenced their exposure to sexualized media and their pre-existing inclination to view or listen to the sexy stuff.
The authors discovered that while a link exists between sexual content and earlier sexual activity, they found “no accelerating or hastening effect of exposure to sexy media content on sexual debut once steps were taken to ensure that adolescents with and without high media exposure were matched on their propensity to be exposed to media with sexual content.”
They conclude, in other words, that the kids who were inclined to have sex earlier were also the kids who’d be likely to consume the hotter media, but the media didn’t, like, make them do it. In OTHERother words, it wasn’t Ke$ha’s fault (this time).
Kudos to Steinberg and Monahan for questioning a long-held assumption, turning the old blame-the-media trope on its head, and for using the word “sexy” about 700 times in their article, making it read like a Prince song.
Most importantly, they turn the focus back to other scientifically established causes of precocious sexual activity: parent–child conflicts and peer influence.Knowing the real causes may lead to more effective ways of helping kids be smart and wise consumers, or not, of the sexed-up stuff they see.
Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 6:09 am
Ripped from the headlines! Turns out our True Confessions retrospective last week has a breaking-news counterpart: efforts to reprint a Massaponax, Virginia high school yearbook in order to remove anonymous R-rated secrets and confessions scattered throughout the pages (along with “quotable quotes,” sometimes [mis-?]attributed, often containing sexual innuendo). Such as:
“I have sex with people just to feel wanted.”
“I worry all the time my ex-boyfriend will use the naked picture I sent him to ruin my life.”
“I had an abortion and my mom doesn’t know.”
“I’m pregnant with my best friend’s boyfriend’s kid.”
Much of the ensuing uproar seems to have focused on the content as “inappropriate,” with parents scandalized and administrators rushing to defend the school as a place where a lot of “good” things happen, too. To be sure, stuff like “I smoked so much pot I woke up high” pretty much is inappropriate for the yearbook. But to me, this is not (just) about keeping “treasured high school memories” clean and pretty. It’s about listening to — to the degree the confessions are true; but why wouldn’t they be — what may constitute, in part, an end-of-year cry for help. If the grownups involved trade their whiffs of moral outrage for a bit more of this, from the principal — “If these things are going on, we want to be supportive and we want to help those students and provide them with appropriate resources” — then future Massaponax graduates might be more likely to succeed.
Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 7:58 am
According to the CDC, the teen birth rate has dropped. Whether this is unequivocally good news is unclear, given, for example, the convincing evidence that a preponderance of teens are saving themselves for a vampire. Here’s what Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, had to say:
“The drop in the teen birthrate after a two-year increase is welcome news, but the fact remains that nearly 750,000 teens become pregnant every year, a number that is still unacceptably high. When it comes to preventing unintended pregnancies and keeping our teens healthy and safe, hiding our heads in the sand is not a sound strategy. Our young people need education and support that comes from comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex ed.
“That’s why we must continue to invest in commonsense policies that achieve our shared goal of truly preventing unintended pregnancies and lowering the teen pregnancy and birthrate. Full funding for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs will put our nation on a sustained path of decreased teen birthrates.
“President Obama and members of Congress have taken a major step forward in allocating more than $185 million in evidence-based, medically accurate teen pregnancy prevention programs. [Yeah, but…?!] Studies show that these types of comprehensive sex education programs are effective in reducing teen pregnancy.
“As we mark STD Awareness Month and the launch of our Get Yourself Tested, or GYT, campaign with MTV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kaiser Family Foundation (www.gytnow.org), it is imperative that we take the issue of teen health seriously. An investment in comprehensive sex education is an investment in reducing STDs and unintended and teen pregnancies. It’s that simple.”
Way back in sheesh, 1999, long before we could embed video, we (specifically, Mikki Halpin) reviewed FOBG Sarah Jacobson’s Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Any More, “an amazing coming-of-age story…about the slow, sputtering start of sexuality and self-awareness.” (More: “You thought the sex-in-a-car scene in Titanic was hot? Wait until you see this one! Not to mention the masturbation scenes, the sex-in-a-graveyard scene, the how-I-lost-my-virginity-scenes, the coming-out scene, and the “What is a clitoris?” speech. Plus comedic relief from Jello Biafra!”) Tragically, the brilliant Sarah died in 2004 at the age of 32.
Now — tomorrow, in fact — in Sarah’s much-celebrated memory, Mikki and friends present:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS SARAH JACOBSON
An evening to honor DIY filmmaker Sarah Jacobson
And a benefit for the Sarah Jacobson Film Grant
February 15, 2010
7 pm doors, 8 pm show
Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
On Monday, February 15, 2010, filmmakers, punk rockers, feminists, and musicians will gather to remember filmmaker Sarah Jacobson (1970–2004). The evening will include an appearance from Sarah’s mother Ruth Jacobson, and her sister Lee Jacobson. There is a $5 suggested donation at the door, and all proceeds will go to the Sarah Jacobson Film Grant, which supports independent young women filmmakers.
Sarah Jacobson (1971–2004) was a a filmmaker who wrote, produced, and directed several movies in the 1990s, including “Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Any More” and “I Was a Teenage Serial Killer.” Sarah’s films reflected her punk sensibilities, her feminist beliefs, and her dedication to DIY principles. She and her mother Ruth Jacbson brought “Mary Jane” to the 1997 Sundance festival, and it was named by Film Threat as one of the “25 Underground Films You Must See.” Sarah was active in the music scene and directed several music videos, including one for Man… or Astroman? She died in 2004 at the age of 32.
After her death, filmmaker Sam Green and Sarah’s mother established the Sarah Jacobson Film Grant for young women “whose work embodies some of the things that Sarah stood for: a fierce DIY approach to filmmaking, a radical social critique, and a thoroughly underground sensibility.” Since 2004, the grant has been awarded to eight filmmakers: Marie Losier, Natasha Mendonca, Kara Herold, Gretchen Hogue, Joanna Dery, Vanessa Renwick, Ellen Lake, and Veronica Majano.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Sarah Jacobson” will celebrate Sarah’s life and work. It also launches the grant cycle for 2010 and information about applying for the grant will be available at the event and on the Sarah Jacobson Film Grant website.
The evening will begin with a short screening of samples of previous grant winners and two of Sarah’s short films. Filmmaker Barbara Hammer and Sarah’s mother Ruth will then speak and introduce “Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Any More.” The evening will also include video tributes from Sarah’s fans and friends including Kathleen Hanna, Allison Anders, Tamra Davis, Sam Green, George Kuchar, Michelle Handelman, and Craig Baldwin.
Glasslands is located at 289 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
[L] to Bedford, [J] to Marcy
Filed under: issues,News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:49 am
The New York Times reports that a study of middle-school students has “found for the first time that abstinence-only education helped to delay their sexual initiation.” Uh oh? The finding “is already beginning to shake up the longstanding debate over how best to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”
Okay okay! Nobody panic! Keep reading.
“[T]he abstinence-only classes in the Jemmott study…unlike the federally supported abstinence programs now in use, did not advocate abstinence until marriage. The classes also did not portray sex negativelyor suggest that condoms are ineffective, and contained only medically accurate information. [This] abstinence-only course was designed for the research, and is not in current use in schools.” [Emphasis added.]
Well, there you go. Look, the debate has never been about abstinence-only vs. “…and, for your homework, please have sex this afternoon.” It’s moralistic, inaccurate abstinence-only vs. comprehensive and realistic: please wait; if you don’t, please be responsible. Though there are those who will misrepresent this research as surely as they misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms, it’s actually yet another vote in our favor.
Update: This (PDF) just in from our heroes at Guttmacher: “While the evaluated program is the first abstinence-only intervention to demonstrate this positive impact in a randomized control trial, it was not a rigid ‘abstinence-only-until-marriage’ program of the type that, until this year, received significant federal funding. The evaluation, therefore, adds important new information to the question of “what works” in sex education, but it essentially leaves intact the significant body of evidence showing that abstinence-only- until-marriage programming that met previous federal guidelines is ineffective.”
Filed under: issues,News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:55 am
When second-to-last we checked, teens were getting much better at using contraception. But now, as it turns out, they’re slacking. Yet they’re still having the same amount of sex. Problem.
From a Guttmacher Institute press release today: “After major improvements in teen contraceptive use in the 1990s and early 2000s, which led to significant declines in teen pregnancy, it is disheartening to see a reversal of such a positive trend,” says lead author John Santelli, M.D., chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Guttmacher Institute senior fellow. “Teens are still having sex, but it appears many are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.”
Why the decline? “The authors suggest that the recent decline in teen contraceptive use since 2003 could be the result of faltering HIV prevention efforts among youth, or of more than a decade of abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education that does not mention contraception unless it is to disparage its use and effectiveness.”
That’s just what we’ll continue to do about ab-only ed.