This Is What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like

YES AND MORE YES. I get questions all the time about how to talk to kids about sex. It’s so much easier than you think. And it’s completely and totally necessary. It’s not optional, parents. Read below for more.

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It happened yet again. As I was sitting at the table for dinner with my children, I noticed my daughter’s hand fishing around under her skirt.

"We don’t play with our vulvas at the table. Go wash your hands and finish your food," I scolded. She nodded, ran off to wash her hands, and resumed picking at her dinner instead.

Small children, they touch themselves. A lot. It’s fascinating to them. And when you’re a small child, you have no sense of shame or disgust or fear of your body. Your body is what it is. It does what it does. And everything that it does is kind of amazing, because you’re not old enough for lower back pain. It’s not sexual, it’s just… fact.

The first time I caught one of my kids playing with their genitals, I said absolutely nothing. I was momentarily paralyzed with indecision. One thing I knew for a fact I did not want to do was to shout, “No!” or “Stop!” What good could that possibly do? Sure, I would be spared the awkwardness of catching my child playing with her genitals on the living room floor, but what kind of lesson is that? To fear or ignore your own vagina?

I thought about it almost constantly for two days, and of course she gave me a second chance to react.

"Sweetie, we don’t play with our vulvas in the living room," I said. Which sounded ridiculous and strange, but nonetheless true. Why is everything with little kids "we" statements? "It’s OK to touch your vulva, but people are private, and it’s a private thing. The only places where you should touch your vulva are in the bathroom or in your bedroom. If you want to play with your vulva, please go to the bedroom."

And she smiled and did, without question, because compartmentalizing where you do certain activities makes sense to little kids.

"We don’t eat in the bathroom, and we don’t touch our vulvas in the living room," became the new mantra. And yes, eventually it became, "We don’t touch our vulvas at the table."

I’m what some people call “sex-positive.” That doesn’t mean I talk with my 4-year-olds about how great sex is and how good it feels. It means I don’t pretend it’s something other than it is.

As parents, we lie all the time. About the Easter Bunny or Santa or the Tooth Fairy, about how long 10 minutes is, about whether or not we remembered they wanted to have grilled cheese for dinner again… We lie a lot. But one thing I never lie about is sex.

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Wednesday Jul 30 1pm  17 notes

 
 

Know Your Money!

It’s super sad and depressing to think that still to this day, women are being held hostage by money. Not because they are greedy, but because they simply didn’t take control of their finances when entering a relationship.

I cannot stress this enough: financial education is JUST as important as any other type of education. Don’t let anyone control you because they control your money.

“Financial abuse, whether you’re talking about ruining her credit, getting her fired or hiding the money, is just as effective in controlling an abused victim as a lock and key,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “If your credit has been ruined, you can’t get an apartment. If you’ve been fired twice because your abuser harasses you at work, you can’t get a job. Women are literally being forced, because of financial dependency, back into abusive relationships.”

Many women who are in abusive relationships name finances as the number one reason they can’t leave. Start early and start young. Know how to work your money, how to save, how to build credit, and don’t let anyone else run those things for you.

[T]he Rutgers University School of Social Work released the results of a 14-month study that evaluated the most commonly used financial education program for domestic violence survivors in the U.S., called the Moving Ahead through Financial Management Curriculum

The study found women who received the financial curriculum significantly improved financial literacy, attitudes, intentions and behaviors, and reported less financial strain than the women who did not receive the training. On every single financial variable, the women who received the training did significantly better over time than the women who did not.

Love NEVER looks like someone telling you when and where you can spend your money. Love NEVER looks like someone destroying your credit so that you can’t get a job or a place to live. Love is NEVER any of these things.

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Friday Jul 25 10am  274 notes

 
 

HIV Diagnosis Rate Fell by a Third in U.S. Over a Decade

This is wonderful news! This drop could be due to a number of things:

  • fewer new infections are occurring
  • most infected people already have been diagnosed so more testing won’t necessarily find many more cases
  • education and outreach is working!

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"HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which destroys the immune system. The World Health Organization estimates 35 million people globally have the virus. In the United States, 1.1 million people are thought to be infected, though many don’t know it." (more info here)

Young gay men and bisexual men are still at the greatest risk of new infection than any other group however, so we haven’t won yet.

In any case, this makes me hopeful that we can continue to make great strides towards helping others achieve a meaningful and healthy sex life without putting others at risk. Keep it up!

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Tuesday Jul 22 3pm  6 notes

 
 

'Stop The Beauty Madness' Brands Ads With Brutally Honest Messages

Originally seen on  | By 

It’s a psychological itch that the most enlightened, successful and even beautiful women still tend to scratch: if I look better, I am better.

Now one campaign is trying to convince others to break free from that line of thought. The Stop The Beauty Madness campaign wants you to “feel like you’ve been socked in the gut” when you see its jarringly frank ads, says its founder Robin Rice.

Stop The Beauty Madness is a series of 25 advertisements branded with honest messages that highlight the true “madness” involved in creating and meeting beauty standards. Rice, an author and the founder of Be Who You Are Productions, started the campaign to challenge an internalized belief that a woman’s beauty determines her value.

Rather than attempt to fit more diverse types of women into an already narrow definition of beauty, Stop The Beauty Madness questions the value we place on beauty in the first place. “My main mission is to say if women are worried about their weight and their looks to the point that they’re not actually putting themselves in the world, then we’re missing out on some really extraordinary individuals and some really important conversations we need to be having,” Rice told HuffPost. “Women need to be helping the world move in a more beautiful direction — a genuinely beautiful direction.”

Beauty, Rice reminds us, can be both meticulously arranged or totally accidental. And yet, we privilege “effortless” beauty free of the true effort (and anguish) often required to achieve it, while criticizing those who happen to be very thin for succumbing to beauty standards. “Even if you fit the mold, you get in trouble for fitting the mold,” Rice said. “You can’t win.”

This double-edged sword is why Stop The Beauty Madness takes a broad approach, addressing all elements of a woman’s appearance from race, to age, to weight, to several at once. “Naturally thin women, or women who choose to work out and have really buff bodies, or elderly women, are not excluded from this conversation. They get their own backlash,” Rice said.

The campaign intentionally uses stock photos, the type of images used to illustrate many glossy magazine articles. “We wanted to use what was out there,” Rice told HuffPost. “There’s not lot of stock photos of African-American women compared to white women. There’s not a lot of edgy photographs of women. There were countless pictures of women on scales trying to lose weight. That shapes our conversation,” she said.

Attaching a brutally honest inner monologue to an image typically used to sell things — whether it’s a product, a lifestyle, or romance — reveals their true costs. Ultimately, Rice hopes the campaign will provide a corrective lens for how women perceive certain images.

"We look at beauty magazines and fashion photographs and whether we theoretically believe in them or not, we’ve seen so many of them and they’ve been put into exactly the right light and ratio that something inside of us has said ‘That’s beautiful,’" Rice told HuffPost. "Whether or not we believe in it intellectually, something deeper has set in and we compare ourselves to that."

Changing beauty culture won’t happen overnight. But for now, Rice hopes women can rely on themselves not to fall victim to it.

"Maybe the next time you look at a magazine, you may have a split second in which you question whether or not that gets in your head again," said Rice. "We want to create that split second where you think, ‘Wait a minute. Do I really believe in this?’"

The campaign also features audio and video series, a slam poetry contest and blogs. See some of the images below and visit Stop The Beauty Madness to see the full campaign.

Wednesday Jul 16 10am  1 note

 
 

Obsessed with this cover. Not because he’s nude (although that helps), but because you NEVER see this type of body on a cover, nude, representing a very body-conscious population like athletes, particularly males.
We all look different, but that doesn’t mean we’re not all capable of achieving greatness.
bedsider:

“You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete.”
—Prince Fielder making us all tingly with so much body love in ESPN the Magazine’s 2014 Body Issue. 

Obsessed with this cover. Not because he’s nude (although that helps), but because you NEVER see this type of body on a cover, nude, representing a very body-conscious population like athletes, particularly males.

We all look different, but that doesn’t mean we’re not all capable of achieving greatness.

bedsider:

“You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete.”

—Prince Fielder making us all tingly with so much body love in ESPN the Magazine’s 2014 Body Issue. 

View HD • Posted Saturday Jul 12 10am  280 notes

 
 

Watch

I totes dig this awesome lady, Laci Green. Gender equality is a NECESSARY thing. She can’t explain feminism any better than what you see in this video.

Learn first, then apply to life.

Posted Thursday Jul 10 9am  1 note

 
 

Gaps in sexual health care for male teens

By Jackie Powder (May 15, 2012)

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He was 17 and had come to Johns Hopkins’ Harriet Lane Clinic for a routine physical. The pediatric resident who took the young man’s medical history asked him if he was a father or had ever gotten somebody pregnant. The teen said his girlfriend was due to have a baby in a couple weeks.

“We congratulated him, reviewed with him his needs and any concerns but made sure that we discussed his reproductive life plan and, based on this, provided him and his partner with appropriate family planning services,” recalled Arik Marcell, MD, MPH, assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Adolescent Health and a teen health expert with the Hopkins Children’s Center, who was supervising the clinic visit. 
   
When it comes to male , this type of doctor-patient interaction is hardly typical. Far too often, said Marcell, medical providers fail to initiate discussions about sexual and reproductive health with adolescent males, a subject that care providers frequently raise with teen girls.

Had the doctor not asked his 17-year-old patient about fatherhood and pregnancy, he would not have known about the imminent and transformative event facing this young father-to-be.

“They’re not routine questions for boys, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t be,” said Marcell, whose recent lecture on the topic at the School was entitled “Sexual and Reproductive Health Care: What About the Young Male?”

“It’s really on us to bring these topics up as part of our work with young men in clinical settings,” he said.

Marcell pointed to gaps in research, the absence of uniform clinical practice guidelines and care providers’ lack of knowledge as contributing factors to a health care environment in which male teens often don’t receive basic sexual and reproductive health care—services that he said should be standard in primary care settings. These include taking a sexual history, STI/HIV screening and testing, a sexual development physical assessment, including a genital exam, and discussion of the male role in contraception and STI/HIV prevention. 

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Thursday Jul 3 9am  

 
 

The Freedom to Choose Your Pronoun (on NYT.com)


A FEW weeks ago, Katy Butler, 16, updated her status on Facebook with an enthusiastic shout-out for Google+, the social network’s latest rival. “Oh my God Google! I love it! I was signing up for Google+ and they asked me my gender and the choices were male, female or OTHER!!!!! Oh ya Google!”

Katy, a high school junior in Ann Arbor, Mich., first encountered “other” as a gender option at a meeting of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Allies (LGBTQQA) in seventh grade. “For those of us in the nonconforming gender community, it is great to see Google make the option more mainstream,” she said.

Though Google created the “other” option for privacy reasons rather than as a transgender choice, young supporters of preferred gender pronouns (or P.G.P.’s as they are called) could not help but rejoice. Katy is one of a growing number of high school and college students who are questioning the gender roles society assigns individuals simply because they have been born male or female.

“You have to understand, this has nothing to do with your sexuality and everything to do with who you feel like inside,” Katy said, explaining that at the start of every LGBTQQA meeting, participants are first asked if they would like to share their P.G.P.’s. “Mine are ‘she,’ ‘her’ and ‘hers’ and sometimes ‘they,’ ‘them’ and ‘theirs.’ ”

P.G.P.’s can change as often as one likes. If the pronouns in the dictionary don’t suffice, there are numerous made-up ones now in use, including “ze,” “hir” and “hirs,” words that connote both genders because, as Katy explained, “Maybe one day you wake up and feel more like a boy.”

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Tuesday Jul 1 10am  1 note

 
 

Watch

This short, simple PSA says so much in just a few seconds. It’s easy to forget that the World Cup often correlates with increased levels of domestic violence (as I’d imagine many major sporting events do). For some people, the games are less about fun and more about living in fear. The PSA is part of Tender Education and Arts’ #StandUpWorldCup campaign, which aims to spread awareness about domestic violence during the World Cup, and to remind fans that a loss (anything else for that matter) is no excuse for hurting someone.

The World Cup should be a carefree time for every fan, but until that day arrives, it’s important to keep sharing ads like this one. If you’re interested in helping, more information about the campaign is available here. Victims shouldn’t have to suffer in the dark while the rest of the world celebrates. [Tender UK]

Originally posted on The Frisky.

Posted Saturday Jun 28 10am  1 note

 
 

5 Things We Must Teach Young Boys About Rape, Right Now (on Time.com)

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Posted originally here, by Chris Ferguson.

It’s time to end the ambiguity on “ambiguous” encounters — we need better sex education for our young men 

George Will has added to the litany of facepalm-worthy statements by men about rape, implying that, due to university policies, victim status is “privileged” and “coveted.” In his June 6 column—which has gotten him fired from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch—he recounts a story from Swarthmore College in which a woman experienced date rape. The woman had been “hooking up” with a guy but then decided to just be platonic friends, a decision she thought was mutual. One night he fell asleep in her bed and she put on her pajamas and climbed in as well, thinking nothing of it. However, he began to pull off her clothes. She said ‘No’ but he persisted and she relented and let him do his thing. Six weeks later she filed rape charges. 

Mr. Will seems to offer this case as an ambiguous scenario in which the woman is partly to blame for A) hooking up with the guy in the past and B) saying “No” only once. If we actually think this scenario is ambiguous—as apparently many young men do—then we need better sex education for boys.

According to one study in the journal “Sex Education”, coverage of rape and dating violence in many school districts remains spotty. The Centers for Disease Control has an initiative to promote rape prevention programs, including in educational settings. A plethora of dating and sexual violence programs exist, although the Office for Justice Programs notes that research on their effectiveness remains lacking. Outcome assessments tend to focus on knowledge gained rather than behavioral change.

We need to end the ambiguity of “ambiguous” scenarios. Every young man should know exactly what rape is. And there are some critical issues that need to be reinforced in sex education programs to help get there:

1. Start early. Teaching general respect for women and girls should start in elementary school, with discussions about dating violence and rape taking place by middle school at the latest. This needs to happen in formative adolescence, before boys start dating.

2. “No” means no, and indecision means “no,” and silence means “no”—not “keep trying until I say ‘fine’.”

3. Programs need to keep focus. Some wander off into moralizations about rap music and pop culture. Let’s stay focused on real-world relationships and real problems.

4. Being bystanders to harassment or violence toward girls and women is not acceptable. Intervening when a girl is being harassed or expressing displeasure at sexist jokes or language, even when only in the company of other males, can help change the culture one person at a time.

5. How to handle rejection respectfully. What should a young man do when a female says “no”? How should he handle the end of a romantic relationship constructively? How does he manage a series of rejections? The emphasis here should be on constructive responses that remain respectful of women, even ones who reject them.

That males might not clearly see certain behavior as rape, when in fact it is, is obviously worth emphasizing. Yet people tend to respond better overall to positive persuasion rather than alarmism. Rather than teaching boys that they are all teetering on the edge of violence, emphasizing the benefits of romantic and sexual relationships founded on open communication, honesty, and mutual respect may provide more positive outcomes.

Ferguson is associate professor and department chair of psychology at Stetson University. He has published numerous scientific articles on the topic of video games and mental health and recently served as guest editor for an American Psychological Association’s special journal issue on the topic. Ferguson is also the editor of Violent Crime: Clinical and Social Implications and the author of The Suicide Kings.

Thursday Jun 26 10am  6 notes

 
 
 
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