Scarleteen: Straight talk for those “burgeoning desires”

I didn’t appreciate it then, but I had a rather charmed growing-up, sexually-speaking.

I was blessed with parents who not only—anomaly of the 1970s—weren’t divorced, but who clearly loved, respected and desired each other. While I didn’t always exhibit a full modicum of common sense in my high-school wanderings and associations, I always made it home safely from my adventures, unscathed and just under curfew. And though my experiences were far less frequent and extensive than I might have liked at the time, those I was able to stumble upon were ones where I felt like an active, if slightly-out-of-my-realm agent, fully of my consent and intent and, generally, ones that left me wanting another go and even more as a result.

Happily, my only lingering scars from the time are a perhaps too-easily triggered association of sexual forays with several pop-culture markers of the era. A lingering kiss and the smell of freshly-cut grass can still evoke a momentary thought of Aqua Velva aftershave, while I lost my virginity (for the second time) to the strains of My Sharona and (for the third and, because I decided it was actually pleasurable enough to finally count, real time) shortly after a delightful make-out session enjoyed during The Warriors. (On one of those new-fangled home video players!)

Still, even given the presence of liberal, open-minded parents and a copy of The Joy of Sex at my pilfering reach, I have to wonder how much better I might have fared with Scarleteen at my disposal. Sure, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret clued me in to the whole period thing, so I wasn’t terribly alarmed when it actually transpired—and I knew all about burgeoning desires from a yellowing copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover found on the top bookshelf.

But how would it have been to be able to post to sympathetic peers and experts the questions I felt too “weird” to bring to my mother? Or to research sexual health worries in a more user-friendly (and less terrifying!) venue than my dad’s Merck Manual? Or even to solicit opinions possibly counter to the wrinkled nose and “ewwww!” provoked in a high school friend by the mere mention of slightly, possibly considering a blow job?

Founded in 1998—sadly, far too late for my formative days—Scarleteen is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website.

We want the sexual choices young people make to be well-informed choices. We feel belying judgment, affording respect and furnishing teens with the facts and context they feel they need, whether or not they are or intend to be sexually active, supports them in learning to best make and own their own choices and lives. …Whether Scarleteen is a young person’s only source of sex education, or whether we play but one part, we want to do what we can to provide young people with the accessible sexuality information, support and discussion they want and need now, and may very well benefit from for a lifetime.

Because Scarleteen doesn’t rely on government funding for their existence, they’re able to offer a comprehensive spectrum of information and create a safe, inclusive space for exploration and discovery—one in which abstinence might be one answer, though, pragmatically, not the only prescribed possibility open to discussion.

And also because Scarleteen doesn’t rely on government funding for their existence, they need our support in continuing to advise and to thrive.

As part of Scarleteen’s current blogathon and fundraising drive, I’ll be making a financial contribution today. Please won’t you do the same?!

Lisa Vandever
Co-Founder/Director, CineKink



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