Category Archives: Sex Education

Love Your Body!



By Libby Atkins, 17, Staff Writer


October 18, 2017

October 18th is Love Your Body Day! Don’t forget to love your body this fine Wednesday (and every day). The campaign, created by the National Organization for Women, aims to bring awareness to the narrow and unrealistic standards of female beauty that media—such as TV, movies and advertising—as well as the fashion and beauty industries present. More importantly, Love Your Body Day is a chance to empower girls and women by spreading positive messages about being healthy and loving yourself!

It’s unfortunately super normal to have self-esteem and body image issues. But when you hear someone telling you to “love yourself” or “feel great about your body,” you are not instantly going to be cured of all the negative thoughts you may have about your body. We’re taught that there must be something wrong with the way we look if we look differently than the models and actresses we see on TV and in magazines. How amazing would it feel to be confident, secure and happy with our bodies?! So, on this Love Your Body Day, we compiled some tips on how to feel better about the beautiful body you have!

TIP #1: Send yourself positive messages.

This tip comes to you from Sex, Etc. writer Bells, 15, of Livingston, NJ. “When I’m trying to love myself more, I take time to look in the mirror and name all the things I like about my body. Little things that I find adorable and unique. It helps to give me an optimistic view to balance out the pessimistic view I might have of my body.”

TIP #2: Imagine what your good friends would say and think about you.

Another one of our writers, Emma, 17, of Caldwell, NJ says that it was eye-opening when she realized how dramatic and negative her body-image was. “The things I’ve been insecure about are things that I never noticed in other people,” says Emma. “I would never insult my friends’ appearances the same way I insult my own. I’ve come to realize that I need to stop judging my looks so harshly, because I don’t deserve that type of treatment.”

Once we begin to quiet those self-hating voices in our minds, we can start to replace them with more positive ones. Learning to love yourself and your body is an ongoing process. Why not start by proactively building ourselves up by internalizing good messages about the beautiful way we look?

 



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Let’s Talk Month and How It Helped My Relationship



By Isabella Gonzalez, 16, Staff Writer


October 10, 2017

October may be home to Halloween, but it’s also Let’s Talk Month, a month dedicated to open communication between young people and their parents or caregivers. This campaign encourages discussion about dating, sex and relationships. Conversations like these shouldn’t be scary or stressful! It’s important to make sure you’re on the same page to avoid confusion and anxiety. After all, establishing communication is key to strengthening any type of relationship, whether it’s between a parent and teen or two partners. For example, inspired by Let’s Talk Month, my girlfriend and I decided to make an open communication policy!

Before we created the policy, whenever we got into a fight or were feeling nervous, we would just stop talking. We’d become strangers, avoiding eye contact and direct conversation. Everyone (not just us, but also our friends) would feel awkward and uncomfortable. Sure, they would try figuring out what was wrong, but all efforts were futile. Only we could fix our silence. Eventually, we admitted to ourselves that the quiet was harming our relationship and needed to stop.

Because of this, we set up a rule. To start, someone says, “Open communication time?” whether it’s the person who wants to talk or the partner who believes something is up. If the other responds with, “Ding, ding, ding!” both partners know it’s OK to talk about it. Since then, awkward silence hasn’t been a problem. We’re now a communicative couple that isn’t afraid to share anything.

So this October, try to find time between homework and crafting your Halloween costume to set up a communication guide that helps both you and a loved one!



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Coming Out: Three Things to Know



By Sarah Emily Baum, 17, Staff Writer


October 6, 2017

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not.

I wasn’t always this comfortable talking about my sexual orientation. It took years for me to get where I am, but now, I can finally say I am out, proud and happy.

However, as we celebrate National Coming Out Day on October 11th, it’s important to remember not everyone feels safe coming out. Some LGBTQ people may get bullied in school, fired from their job or rejected by their family. National Coming Out Day may seem like it’s only for people who can proudly wave rainbow flags and lead the pride parade, but what if you aren’t ready to come out yet? This is a day to help improve that—a chance to increase visibility for LGBTQ people and hear their stories. Whether you’re still unsure of your identity or you feel unsafe because of it, know you are still loved, valid and no less brave and amazing for being who you are.

When you’re ready to come out, you’ll know; but before you do, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Nobody Is Entitled to Know Your Identity

The first person I came out to was not my mom. It wasn’t my therapist. It wasn’t my best friend, or my second best friend or my third.  It was some girl I met in the park when I was 12. She said she was gay, and I said, “No way! I’m gay too!” and that was the first time I had ever said it out loud.

I never saw her again.

In fact, the people closest to me tended to be the very last to know. It was easier to come out to other kids online because if they judged me, I could just walk away without any repercussions. Meanwhile, I thought if my parents reacted badly, there would be no way to escape the consequences.

Thankfully my parents were supportive when I came out, even if they were displeased with the fact they were dead last to know. I had come out to my camp counselor, my rabbi, even my congressman before I told my mother and father.

But it wasn’t indicative of how much I care about my parents. It wasn’t me trying to “pull a fast one.” It was just who I was comfortable with, when I was comfortable with it.

Coming out is YOUR journey. It is YOUR identity. You can come out to whoever you want, whenever you want, and deciding not to tell someone doesn’t make you deceitful or manipulative. This is about you. No one is entitled to know about something so deeply personal if you don’t want to share it.

No One Can Define Your Identity but You

Do you identify as a lesbian even though you like boys sometimes? That’s fine.

Are you bisexual but you’ve only ever dated girls? No problem.

Are you pansexual, asexual, demisexual, genderqueer, nonbinary or something else altogether? That’s all right!

Just because you may not be learning about sexual orientation and gender identity at school doesn’t mean your identity isn’t valid. After all, things like gender and sexual orientation are strict categories made up to classify and organize a part of the human experience that, in actuality, includes grey areas.

The only person who truly knows your sexual orientation or gender identity is you. Don’t let anyone force you into a label that doesn’t feel like the right fit. Some people never pick a label at all!

Give It Time

Coming out is not a “one and done” endeavor.

Coming out is a process. Most people are assumed to be heterosexual and cisgender, so you’ll probably come out to lots of people over time.

The idea of coming out as this perpetual journey can be daunting, even exhausting. But it will get easier. Your family might be taking it harshly, your friend might be acting awkward. But if they genuinely love and care for you, they will hopefully overcome that.

And though you may lose some people, there will always be others who love and accept you as you are.

Just keep searching. You’ll find each other.



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Prom: When the Pressure’s On



By Adrian Lam, 18, Staff Writer


May 5, 2017

With spring here and school nearing a close, it’s an exciting time of year. Promposals are popping up left and right, with creative posters, beautiful bouquets and flash mobs galore! But, there is a side of prom we don’t always talk about—also lingering in the air is the pressure to lose one’s virginity and have sex during prom weekend.

When I asked Billy*, 17, from Hillside, NJ, if he had felt this pressure before in his high school, he replied, “It high-key exists. Trust me and just ask around, I bet you’ll hear some wild stuff.”

And let’s be honest: we hear exaggerated stories all the time of teens getting “wasted” on prom weekend and unexpected hookups occurring left and right.

Why is there this pressure? While some teens believe prom is the last chance to lose their virginity before high school is over (basically the premise of American Pie), others feel as if they are obligated to have sex with the date who brought them to prom. (They’re not.) Still, other teens want to share their own exciting stories about what happened that weekend. Certainly, the media has played a large role it making it seem like prom is the “make it or break it” climax (pun intended) of four years of high school when it doesn’t have to be. In reality, there’s no way for us to know how many teens are actually having sex or “losing their virginity,” so teens should not feel pressured during prom.

Whether or not you plan to have sex during prom weekend is nobody’s business, and you have the right to make your own fully informed decision. Bottom line: Be yourself and only have sex when you and your partner both agree that you’re ready.

If you’re not ready, it’s OK to say no. Sex is not a life-changing experience that will make you a different person. You won’t level up and evolve. It’s not a race, so make sure you are physically and emotionally prepared before you make your decision. (And, of course, to avoid a pregnancy and STDs, don’t forget to practice safer sex when you decide the time is right!)

Finally, if I could offer any advice to you as a soon-to-be graduate, it would be to make the most of these last couple of weeks of high school. There are a lot of ways to have a memorable, fun experience at prom, from eating delicious food to talking to your friends to dabbing whenever the opportunities arise!

*Billy is a pseudonym.



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Period Tracker Apps: What You Should Know



By Naomi Akiyama, Staff Writer


April 10, 2017

The ups and downs of “that” time of the month are all too familiar to many of us. To plan around this ebb and flow of hormones, mobile period-tracking apps can be our closest friends. But as helpful as the popular apps may seem, it’s a good idea to avoid relying on them too much.

There are many different period-tracking apps and each has its own way to make monitoring your cycle more convenient. The apps collect data such as the start and end dates of your period, symptoms, body temperature and even sexual activity. The patterns of information recorded help the apps estimate the days your future periods might begin and end, what symptoms might recur and times of ovulation for cycles to come. By keeping daily tabs on how users feel, it would make sense that users with regular periods would be able to prepare themselves for everything that flows in with the “red tide.”

Some people use the handy system simply to become more familiar with how their bodies work, including when they may be ovulating. We sometimes receive questions from teens on Sex, Etc.’s Tumblr about period trackers and using them to determine when to have sex without becoming pregnant. This is troubling, because period trackers should not be used to dictate these times. The thing is, menstrual cycles aren’t always constant, and can be especially erratic for teens. Secondly, everyone’s body is different, and not everyone ovulates at the same time during a cycle. For these reasons, it may be more difficult for a period tracker to use data to accurately calculate when a person is typically more likely to get pregnant. However, the trust placed in the tracker may lead to risky behavior, like skipping the use of protection because the estimated chance of pregnancy is lower on a given day. Not only is this information not always true because of the inconsistencies in an actual menstrual cycle, but not using contraception (especially condoms) can increase the risk of STDs as well as pregnancy.

All in all, it’s great to have technology like this, especially if you’re tracking general changes in your cycle. But if you’re looking to know exactly when you’re ovulating and using these apps to determine how to act, don’t put all your eggs in one basket by taking your period tracker’s advice.



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Men Sense Force to Search Like Calvin Klein Underwear Models


By David Guirgis, 16, Staff members Writer

September 23, 2015

Objectification of bodies in the media has influenced our tips of what is viewed as “attractive” —from the posters of Victoria’s Magic formula Angels adorning each shopping mall in The us to the shirtless, underwear-clad guys of Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch. And it is not just an concern for ladies, possibly. A the latest report released on Buzzfeed highlights the point that entire body picture and the strain to seem a particular way influences men, too.

In Buzzfeed’s report, “We Re-Produced Popular Calvin Klein Underwear Adverts and This Is What Took place,” regular guys recreated legendary Calvin Klein advertisements and then gave their reactions to the visuals. The report seems to have struck a chord—it’s been viewed about 800,000 times given that publication and garnered hundreds of remarks, several highlighting the point that men have insecurities as well. The juxtaposition of these types and the daily men trying to re-create them was considered-provoking, since whilst the unique advertisements featured guys with these ripped bodies, the guys re-producing the images had numerous entire body forms. And it is effortless to see how your ordinary Joe could really feel insecure the standard men with numerous entire body forms aren’t usually viewed as conventionally “hot.” Let’s face it, though—when you’re with your partner, you’re not considering about the point that they really don’t seem like underwear types. Average Joe isn’t unattractive at all he just doesn’t have an eight-pack!

Sensation insecure about my entire body is something I battle with as well. And it is fairly significantly a supplied that I’ll in no way seem like the underwear types dripping intercourse from each billboard they’re on. It is a wholly unrealistic ideal, and still I had internalized the belief that I was not “trying tough enough” to seem like these types and that I’d in no way finish up with any one since I appeared, well, ordinary.

Intercourse sells, but these advertisements are advertising a fantasy. In real daily life, not all women have thigh gaps and big butts similarly, not all guys have smoldering abdominal muscles and excellent pecs. But you know what? Which is wholly Ok. At the finish of the working day, accepting and loving your entire body and the bodies of others—whatever shape they’re in—is significantly much more particular. And that goes for individuals of all genders, too.

For more information on sex education, we suggest to visit http://www.cumtumblr.com

What do you imagine about the Buzzfeed report? Sound off in the remarks!

Impression supply: Buzzfeed
Photographer: David Bertozzi

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National Women’s History Month: We’ve Come a Long Way



By Grace Wampold, 17, Staff Writer


March 15, 2017

March is Women’s History Month—a time to remember that the rights we exercise today are the product of our very slow evolution toward gender equality. From Susan B. Anthony to Audre Lorde, most of us have a list of strong women in history that come to mind. These activists fought to give women a voice and things like the right to vote in the U.S.

It was not that long ago that women were expected to wear only dresses and keep silent. They were told what their role in society should be and what to do with their bodies and sexuality. Sex was never discussed with girls unless it related to pregnancy or the pleasure of a man. Having the power to decide how many kids you want, what you expect from your partner and what you want out of a relationship is just as important as having the right to vote and an opportunity to influence public policy.

Today, I have the right to explore my sexuality and understand my own desires out of life rather than have a path chosen for me. I can wear pants to school or “pants” in a relationship, if that’s what I feel comfortable doing. Let’s hear it for women, all types of women, because this month is for you. May we be inspired to continue to work toward a world where all people are treated fairly and with respect, regardless of their gender.



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LGBTQ TV—a Great Escape



By Gillian Hatcher, 18, Staff Writer


March 10, 2017

What’s going on in the world has many people feeling afraid, stressed out, overwhelmed and just all around not good. I for one am not immune to those feelings. One thing that I find a lot of comfort in during hard times is TV shows. I look to them to escape reality for a while and to enter a seemingly easier world where problems can be cleared up at the end of an episode or a season. Personally, as a queer woman, I like to watch very LGBTQ+ positive shows, and I have complied a list of the best ones I have come across in my travels.

Sense8

Since its release, this Netflix sci-fi series has gotten both viewer and critical acclaim, and I think it’s well deserved. Sense8 is the story of eight strangers who realize that they are all mysteriously connected after each experiencing the same vision. The characters are all from different backgrounds and parts of the world and are diverse in race, sexual orientation and gender. To top it all off, the show was written by the Wachowski sisters, who are both transwomen. You can watch season one plus their Christmas special on Netflix now.

Take My Wife

This sitcom is about the lives of real-life married couple and comedians Carmen Esposito and Rhea Butcher. The show is a dramatized version of things that actually happened to them as they work their way to becoming famous comedians. I love and recommend this show because it feels like any old sitcom you would watch. Carmen and Rhea deal with money troubles, finding jobs, relationships and all the normal sitcom stuff, but there is a fresh take on it since they are a lesbian couple. It is also wonderful to see a lesbian couple portrayed like, well, a normal couple in a TV show. Oh, and it’s pretty funny too. Take My Wife season one is available on Amazon.

Yuri!!! on Ice

This anime series is so good that someone like me, who doesn’t watch anime, fell in love with it. It’s about a young Japanese figure skater, Yuri Katsuki, who isn’t doing so well professionally until his idol (Victor Nikiforov, the world’s top figure skater) shows up one day and offers to be his coach. This show portrays a loving gay relationship flourishing in an environment free of hate. The creator, Mitsurō Kubo, has stated that the world she created has no hate in it and that everyone is supportive of different sexual orientations. With loveable characters, a great plot and even an adorable dog, there is nothing to not love about Yuri!!! on Ice. I highly recommend it. Season one is available on Crunchyroll.

I’ve always been someone who used TV shows to escape, and I find the most comfort in the worlds that shows like Sense8, Take My Wife, and Yuri!!! on Ice create—worlds that are so full of diversity and celebrate that diversity. Maybe it’s just the dreamer in me that likes to watch these shows because I think that one day we could have that kind of world and that with a lot of work and love we could all celebrate the diversity that makes this world what it is. Even if it’s not like that now, for the next thirty minutes while I watch Yuri skate, it is.



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Four Great Sexual Health Apps



By Gillian Hatcher, 18, Staff Writer


February 14, 2017

We all have our phones on us most of the day, and we all use at least five apps a day, so why not add a few great sexual health apps?

Recently, Answer—the organization that publishes Sex, Etc.—published a report in which they asked teens to use and review apps and other web-based digital tools related to sexual health. The report looks at what is working in the world of sexual health digital tools and recommends how organizations in the field of sexual and reproductive health can do an even better job of using technology to provide us with accurate sexual health info.

Here are four apps that received all-around high praise!

Bedsider’s Birth Control Reminders

This is an app for people like me who always need a reminder to take their birth control. The cool thing about this app is that each day you get to learn a weird fact, get a beautiful quote or some new reading material, all while being reminded about your birth control of choice. Some of my favorites have been a link to a women’s literature list, the quote “There is a moon, that rests in the quiet corners of a lover’s lips” and insight into Cleopatra’s signature lipstick.

Circle of 6

I personally had all of my friends download this app. Circle of 6 allows you to keep in contact with your friends and family anytime: while you’re out and alone, feeling uncomfortable at a party or not feeling safe while on a date, for example. You can send a text to your “circle” with the press of a button, asking them to “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.” You can also easily send texts like “I’m home safe” and “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely” with your location. Circle of 6 makes it that much easier to have the support and help of your family and friends when you need it most.

Eve

Eve is not your normal period tracker app; it’s actually a lot more. Just like other period trackers, there are reminders when your period should start and a log to track all of your symptoms. But it also has a bunch of articles, quizzes and an active community you can participate in. Here you can talk to other people about their periods and share advice and tips to get through your period. It might be weird to call a period tracker app “fun,” but Eve is definitely a fun app to have on your phone.

Planned Parenthood Chat/Text

While Planned Parenthood Chat/Text isn’t an app, it is a great digital tool that you can access on your phone. Go to the Planned Parenthood website and click the “Chat Now” button. Through the chat, you can have your sexual questions answered by a professional. This tool is beyond valuable and something that you should use if you ever have a question about your sexual health and need a quick answer.

I hope that these apps make it onto your phone to stay. Are there other sexual health apps or digital tools that you love? Leave a comment below.



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Galentine’s Day: More Than Romantic Love



By Grace Wampold, 17, Staff Writer


February 14, 2017

Of the many commercial holidays celebrated year round, Valentine’s Day deserves a handwritten card for being the one that commemorates love, intimacy and passion. While many couples make dinner reservations or order flowers, the love we are celebrating is not reserved only for those in romantic relationships. Whether your closest loved one is your partner or friend, all intimate moments are valuable reminders of the support we give to one another.

Since 2010, women have been using February 13th to celebrate Galentine’s Day, a concept made up by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. Groups of “gal pals” come together and celebrate friends (the other loves of your life) just before Valentine’s Day. Galentine’s Day reminds us that intimacy is not necessarily physical or romantic; it’s an unapologetic, familiar comfort with someone else. Coming together, passionate about the happiness of someone close to us, can better connect us to our own understanding of what we value and cherish. From hugging your mom to smiling at a stranger, that moment of connection taps into the same feeling. Valentine’s Day is more or less an opportunity to give tokens of love to those we love. The pressure we put on ourselves to find romantic fulfillment, especially this time of year, can make it difficult to acknowledge the platonic loves in our life. Never devalue yourself by the types of relationships you have in your life. Champion them, because when talking about love and building strong relationships, every moment of intimacy, of connectivity, is meaningful.



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