Why I wish I’d had Scarleteen.com
I grew up a little different to most, I was kicked out of home at the age of 12 shortly after my parents split up. From the ages of 12 – 17 I lived in various child welfare programs, youth refuges and housing projects, as well as a short stint in boarding school. By the time that I left home I should have had a basic sex education… but I didn’t – and the damage was already done. My mothers inability to discuss even the very basics of human sexuality(such as periods etc) cast a heavy shadow of shame regarding all things sexual over me. This made it very difficult for me to ever ask the questions I needed answers to, or even discuss anything relating to puberty and my body let alone sex and sexuality.
This was almost 20 years ago, well before the days of the internet, but I know that if I had access to a resource as informative, accessible and sexually positive as Scarleteen.com that shame wouldn’t have been so strong and I could’ve avoided some of the dangers I exposed myself to. I also would’ve had Answers, the RIGHT answers about my of my sexual questions.
I learned about periods from Dolly Magazine, Judy Bloom’s book – ‘Are you there god? It’s me Margaret‘ as well as my best friend at the time’s mum – I was so grateful to her, an amazing mum & midwife who was very open to discussing all such things with her daughters as well as those of us who were their friends. She was the person who taught me about how pads and tampons worked, and was the person I called after a pregnancy scare, but I digress.
When I did get my period I was far too ashamed and embarrassed to tell my mum, for those first few months I improvised, destroying plenty of pairs of underwear and ordered sample packs of tampons from magazines (as my mum had a full hysterectomy there were never any sanitary products in the house). It wasn’t great but it was preferable to telling my mum. Eventually she found a packet of tampons and some dirty undies and proceeded to go off her head. Yelling at me, calling me names and proclaiming how disgusting I was to anyone who would listen. She even called me a whore for having tampons! Sexual negativity at its best!
A few months later after she threw me out I was living in a DOCS (the government department that takes care of neglected kids and foster care etc) facility. I was too scared to even tell any of the other girls I had my period, let alone any of the workers, so yet again I was improvising. The thought of asking one of the workers for a packet of tampons freaked me out! For some reason tampons and pads were locked in a cupboard of the girls bathroom. It wasn’t until I had an overnight accident that the subject was brought up and a worker asked if I would prefer tampons or pads. It was such a huge relief to know I’d be getting what I needed… but damn it that worker forgot to get them out of the cupboard before her shift ended. I never got those tampons.
It has taken so long to get over the negativity that my mother instilled in me as well as the shame, still 20+ years later some sexual shame and negativity still lingers – but thankfully I’ve now got the whole period thing down!
From then on growing up in the system I had access to information regarding std’s and pregnancy prevention, with condoms always being regularly available, but the shame always remained. I was far to scared and embarrassed to ask the questions I had or ask for the help I needed. If I had a resource such as Scarleteen.com I could have done it all anonymously, and could’ve shrugged off the sexual negativity that was bred into me a lot faster than I did.
The holes in my sexual education weren’t limited to puberty, they weren’t all related to the shame my mother instilled in me, but all of them were due to a lack of accessible sexually positive resources. To be honest I’m still learning and although it is aimed at teens, Scarleteen.com has helped to answer some of the questions I’ve had as an adult and has taught me things I never knew about.
As a parent I’m also incredibly grateful that such a positive sexual education resource exists, both so that I can find out information i want to convey to my teenage son – Im a girl, how the hell am I meant to know what a wet dream is like??? and also so that I can share the site with him, knowing that he can find answers to questions he might not want to ask his mum. Answers I can trust to be both right and positive. You can check out the Scarleteen page for parents here.
So why am I posting about Scarleteen.com, well this post is part of the Scarleteen Sex Ed Blog Carnival which hopes to get it out there that this is an incredibly important site that needs our support to continue doing the great work that they do. You can find a list of all the participants of the Blog Carnival here on AAG’s site, or simply click the button below to make a donation.