Comic strips based on "The Purity Myth"

February 21st, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

After reading arguably one of the best down to Earth, realistic, and ‘oh you are SO right’ books about purity and virginity, The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti, I couldn’t help but vividly picture some of the abstinence-only exercises.

Here are a couple of quotes to amuse and shock you.

“…consider another abstinence product: a gold rose pin handed out in schools and at Christian youth events. The pin is attached to a small card that reads, ‘You are like a beautiful rose. Each time you engage in pre-marital sex, a precious petal is stripped away. Don’t leave your future husband holding a bare stem. Abstain.‘”(Valenti, 2010, p. 32).

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enough said. This is a terrifying image to a young girl who is now PETRIFIED of sex. Well done radical extremists. Ostriches.

At the top of Chapter 2: Tainted Love, Valenti (2010) quotes Darren Washington, an abstinence educator at the Eighth Annual Abstinence Clearinghouse Conference:
“Your body is a wrapped lollipop. When you have sex with a man, he unwraps your lollipop and sucks on it. It may feel great at the time, but, unfortunately, when he’s done with you, all you have left for your next partner is a poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled sucker.” (p. 41).

There are 327186757489391432 things wrong with the above statement.
1. !!!!!!!!!!!!
2. I will never eat lollipops again. Ew. Phallic much?
3. “…when he’s done with you“? Wow. This isn’t misogynistic at ALL. Men seem like creatures in this case and women seem like incapable tools.
4. Again… I used to like lollipops. Thanks for ruining my once innocent and playful image of a lollipop. Ass.

I could go on, but instead I decided to draw comics that illustrate the purity myth. The first comic is based on the first quote about the flower. The second comic is just the overemphasis on the virgin/whore dichotomy. Enjoy.

NOTE: Please click on the picture for a bigger image. Hopefully, it is readable. :)

SWEET JESUS Ontario 7-8 Health and Phys Ed curriculum!

February 20th, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

Hisssssssssss!

Alright, so I have been debating whether or not to analyze Ontario’s sexual health education curriculum along with British Columbia’s. I now know it MUST be done.

Ontario recently revised the Elementary Health and Phys Ed curriculum in 2010. Well done my home sweet home!

According to the overall and specific outcomes of the Healthy Living portion of Health education, By the end of Grade 7 students will:

•identify the methods of transmission and the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and ways to prevent them;

Sarah’s commentary: Alright. Necessary. I approve.

• use effective communication skills (e.g., refusal skills, active listening) to deal with various relationships and situations;

Sarah’s commentary: Okay… such as “Don’t touch my vagina right now” and “I hear what you are saying, but I must abstain as the curriculum tells me to…” Right? Nevertheless, I still agree with effective communication. Okay.

explain the term abstinence as it applies to healthy sexuality;

Sarah’s commentary: …. AND?!?!?!?! What ELSE? Birth control? These children are 12. Some of them have developed breasts! Some of them are on their period RIGHT now… Explain abstinence? That’s IT?!

• identify sources of support with regard to issues related to healthy sexuality (e.g., parents/guardians, doctors).

Sarah’s commentary: Because teachers are scared to say so? Or because policy states teachers shouldn’t say so? Should we get nurses in the class telling kids what a penis is and how it works? Why is it this all has to be left up to doctors… it’s SO clinical. Parents, YES! But some won’t… so what then?

These are not the only outcomes, but the ones which I thought were important and/or curious.

Under grade 8 (alright… we are 13 years old now… or approaching this age. TEENS! Has anything changed?), it states

By the end of Grade 8, students will:

explain the importance of abstinence as a positive choice for adolescents;

Sarah’s commentary: Among others? This is limiting! *hiss*

• identify symptoms, methods of transmission, prevention, and high-risk behaviours related to common STDs, HIV, and AIDS;

• identify methods used to prevent pregnancy;

Sarah’s commentary: Such as?

apply living skills (e.g., decision-making, assertiveness, and refusal skills) in making informed decisions, and analyse the consequences of engaging in sexual activities and using drugs;

Sarah’s commentary: LOL! Living skills. HOLD THE PHONE!!! Here is my issue: Ladies and gentlemen and people who create policy and curriculum, PLEASE do not lump sex and drugs into the same bullet. Drugs are horrid things. No one should do cocaine ever. Sex is not a horrid bad thing… so don’t you DARE put them under the same thing. Yes, they both have consequences, but so does swimming after you eat, and you sure as hell wouldn’t say swimming and drugs are related, WOULD YOU?!?!?! Drugs. WHOLE other story. Give it a new bullet, a new topic/subject area, hell… even a new lesson, please!!

• identify sources of support (e.g., parents/guardians, doctors) related to healthy sexuality issues.

Dear Ontario,

Don’t be vague and give sex some positivity. Students are afraid of negative things… More commentary to come.

Dear Ontario again,

I am not scowling at you because you are doing something wrong. I commend anyone who writes curriculum; however, there are a couple of things that are too vague and will be left up to teacher discretion, causing misinformation, misguidance, and an overall inconsistent teaching and learning. Love you. <3

Yours capable,

the newest policy analyst to your team? I’ll let you know when I publish my Master’s thesis, then we’ll talk?

Max wants to know "what’s a vagina?"

February 19th, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

My people…

Sex! There. I said it. Once upon a time, I was born. My name is Sarah and I WILL be known as a sexpert one day!
Just to clarify, by sexpert, I mean an informed filter intended to promote knowledge, health, and understanding surrounding sex education. I do not mean this. When I say sex education, I mean sex, sexuality, sexual health, health and wellness, wellbeing, self, identity, Who am I, a little bit of gender, a little bit of anatomy, vagina, penis, boobs, belly button, and all that jazz, education. All of this encompasses sex education. I will not be focusing on how to HAVE sex, but rather how to understand one’s body in respect to the actions it can perform, undergo, etc. This includes sex. I cannot escape this fact.
Therefore, sexpert does NOT equal “hey baby let’s have a good time” *enter cheesy sex music*. Although I DO have some lovely songs that convey a sexual undertone, they are intended to show that sex is everywhere and we need to get used to that.
I am a scholar. A sexuality scholar. I read, write, and do sexual health education. With an emphasis on EDUCATION.
Let me tell you about some issues to which I would respond “well obviously”:
1. Boys have penises.
2. People are afraid of sex.
3. Teenagers think about sex.
4. Sex.
This blog is intended for anyone and everyone who wants to come to terms with the realities of human sexuality. Because of my education background, I will be posting specifically educational documents directed at educators, parents, and sexuality enthusiasts.
Because this is on the internet and people love flashy things, I will be posting pictures, videos, and music to entertain the magpie in all of us. Although I thoroughly enjoy reading research, not everyone does, so I will accommodate those of you who would rather not read and just view Cookie Monster holding a condom. (WHAT DID SHE SAY?!?!?!)
Alright,
I welcome you. Please stay a while and fall in love with my passion to write. My passion to write about my passion: sexuality and how it’s such a ?!?!?! to lots of people.

Dear Secondary Schools,

February 19th, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

Dear secondary schools,

Hi. I’m Sarah. I volunteer for Options for Sexual Health in Kelowna, British Columbia. It is an excellent place where we educate, celebrate, and shower youth with positive vibes and birth control such as condoms and ‘the pill’.

Why we are awesome
:

We are realistic, positive, and understanding. Youth are curious about sex. We are cool with that.

Why you should let us in your schools:

I just recently helped out at Sexual Health Day on the Okanagan college campus as part of Options for Sexual Health. It was a blast. Youth 18+ deserve information and resources about sex. Not many people would argue against this. There are plenty of resources and information and education for students in post-secondary institutions. What about kids in school who are just curious and inquisitive? What about Sally who has a question about foreplay? What about Billy who wants to know why erections happen? What about Steven who wants to know how to tell his parents he is gay? What about all of those kids whose questions are not being answered in straight up safety and prevention health ed classes where sex ed is barely touched on? What about these same kids who are spending their Friday nights confused about whether or not they are ‘allowed’ to kiss, etc.?

OPT is gorgeous. I work there. I would LOVE to come to your school and motivate kids to be positive and confident in their sexual identity. I would LOVE to teach girls that their menstrual cycles are beautiful things and tell guys that every male gets erections and to embrace these bodily changes! I would LOVE to smile and sing and know that sexual health education is being progressive, transformative and effective, and that it is changing people’s lives for the better. I would LOVVVVVEEEE to say that we are embracing another sexual revolution and everyone is okay with what is going on in the world (sexually).

Can I please come to your school? KSS, I’m talking to YOU! First stop, colleges and universities, which are now informed about STIs and how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Next stop, secondary schools: places where kids are silently asking for sex education from people who are not afraid to say “sex happens. Let’s deal”.

A stop after that? Middle school.

Dear schools,
My name is Sarah. And students, youth, kids, and others are reading this blog… and agreeing. Let credible, comprehensive information into your schools. Let it be.

Love,
Your favourite sexual education enthusiast,
Sarah Abstinence-is-only-an-option-not-the-only-option Bryant


PS. Condoms are not scary.

A menstruation sensation you say?!?!

February 10th, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

It was a Wednesday. I was wearing a white skirt. The horror!

I had nothing on me. Not even a kleenex! I went into the women’s washroom and lurked like a creep until eventually, a SAINT gave me a pad. :) (Shout out to women who are sweet).

HOLD the phone Sarah. This is AWFULLY intimate and uncomfortable… you not only talking about your vagina, but the fact that you needed a pad… which leads to an assumption that you were on your PERIOD.

The following article contains talk about menstruation.

After this glorious day (I told the story to a girl who was having a bad day, and we laughed, reminiscing about how if this was 10 years earlier, it would have been the end of my life in terms of catastrophically bad days), I decided to write an article about the beauty of the ‘period’. It’s awesome. Bask in its greatness.


Even Hello Kitty isn’t afraid of the period!

GENTLEMEN, keep reading and stop being so stereotypically afraid of the monthly inevitability of every female.

PERIODS:
At the end of my sentence, and the end of my youth

Remember that monthly gift every female inevitably gets? Remember that thing that guys never want to talk about? The purpose of this article is to uncover some of the mystical wonders and mythical assumptions of female menstruation, also known as “the period”. Female empowerment will be explored through research on girls’ perspectives and perceptions of periods and how to find the positivity in an arguably negative situation. The social norm is to dislike that looming week every month when a period is bound to happen during a time a female wants to go swimming, have sex, or just wear sexy underwear without a pad.
It is necessary to rejoice in menstruation. There are both negatives and positives associated with menstruation, but the positives are barely ever addressed.

Here are some misconceptions and socially accepted beliefs surrounding menstruation:

Periods are a girl’s problem
So there is this recent commercial about Kotex tampons that sees a woman asking men to go into the pharmacy to buy her tampons because she forgot her bike lock. All of the men are reluctant to do it. One man even says “can I get you toilet paper?” (TresSugar, 2010). No you cannot just get toilet paper! The reactions from the men are typically that of embarrassment or nervousness. I bet the reaction would be different if she was asking him to buy condoms. When it comes to educating oneself about sexuality and issues surrounding puberty and growth, all people, males and females alike, should be informed. Especially if a male is going to be sexually active, he should be familiar with a girl’s period, in my opinion. What about pregnancy and educating about a woman’s hormonal cycles? Men should know this if they plan on being involved in a woman’s life intimately and sexually. The commercial illustrates one of the common perceptions about men and periods. Periods are not a “problem” and they are most definitely not a “girl’s” problem.

Periods are scary
Don’t be afraid of your period. It’s nature’s way of reminding you that your vagina works, your body’s way of thanking you for using a condom, and also a celebratory sign that you are not pregnant. Menstruation is necessary in order to cleanse the female body. One’s period is thus like internal yoga… for the vagina.

There are countless myths depicting fear and discomfort with the period. As if a girl can control whether or not she gets one, the period is frowned upon, not talked about over breakfast, nor is it in any way a ‘happy occurrence’. Yes, cramps suck, and bleeding is never fun; but it’s only once a month and hey, what would you prefer: bleeding every so often or getting a visible reminder of when you’re turned on? Erections. They seem like they’d be annoying. Girls: enjoy your vagina. Period and all.

My period means I am no longer innocent

Jessica Valenti’s (2010) The Purity Myth is a novel about America’s obsession with virginity and some of the misconceptions of purity. In her novel, she talks about innocence and how some restrictive abstinence-only educators couple it with menstruation:

In a 2008 MSNBC medical article … doctor/reporter Billy Goldberg bemoaned how girls are beginning to menstruate at younger and younger ages: ‘What happened to the innocence of youth?’ he asked. He also wrote, ‘Earlier onset of puberty is associated with health concerns beyond the loss of youthful innocence’(Valenti, 2010, p. 71-72).

What is implied here? Girls should remain youthful? Periods are the negative consequence of growing up? Menstruation is inevitable in all young women, and so, should we not be embracing this ‘step’ in the growth process? This quote implies loss of youthful innocence is a societal worry and equates it with health concerns related to abnormal menstruation. Not every woman is the same, and thus, irregular periods are very common at least once in a woman’s life. Also, there is no escaping menstruation, so regardless of potential health concerns, women are going to bleed. A psychological source confirms the possibility of health concerns related to early menstruation, but there are no concerns in terms of youthful innocence: “Age of menarche [first menstrual period] is related to a number of health problems. Girls who menstruate at very young ages are at greater risk for such problems as breast and endometrial cancer…girls who have a higher intake of dietary fibre or a lower intake of monounsaturated fat begin menstruating later” (Rathus et al., 2010, p. 76). Maintaining a healthy diet decreases the risk of health concerns in women, among other positives. Eat fibre! Cleanse your body.

Fingerson (2006) writes about menstruation and empowerment in her novel Girls in Power. Similar to Valenti (2010) who argues that menstruation is a positive experience in a girl’s life and by no means extinguishes a girl’s innocence, Fingerson (2006) pairs interviews with young adolescent girls with research on socially accepted constructions on how Western society views menstruation. Based on the claims made in these two texts, both authors would argue menstruation has nothing to do with a ‘loss of innocence’ because “for women, menstruation is ordinary. Women menstruate on average just under one week per month; thus, approximately one-quarter of all fertile women are menstruating at any given moment” (Fingerson, 2006, p. 15). Girls become women whether they like it or not, and so this is a reality for all females.

Periods are dirty

EW, periods are dirty! How may I ask? Quite the contrary. Periods are a body’s way of telling a female that she is functioning healthily. Periods are like a monthly pat on the back. In Fingerson’s (2006) text, many girls stated that one of the only positives they could find in getting their period was that it is a way to cleanse the body. Keeping this in mind, girls found their periods more empowering and less ‘dirty’ and ‘shameful’.


Periods and social norms

Fingerson (2006) interviews girls and women with different views on menstruation in her novel Girls in Power. The consensus is that girls are afraid to talk about their periods outside of an intimate group of girls. For the most part, “girls are menstruating but they work to conceal this and act as if they are not since they do not want to be different from those around them” (Fingerson, 2006, p.16). Again, in Western society, there is a “cultural emphasis on concealment” (17), meaning that girls are expected to feel as if they should hide their inevitable menstruation. Fingerson (2006) argues that girls should embrace this time in their lives and acknowledge their new found womanhood and their maturing bodies. If it is okay for a male’s voice to drop and him to grow facial hair, I think it should be okay for a woman’s breasts to grow and her monthly gift to flow.

References

Fingerson, L. (2006). Girls in power. Albany, NY: State of University New York Press.

Rathus, S. A., Nevid, J. S., Fichner-Rathus, L., & Herold, E.S. (2010). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. (3rd ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.

TresSugar (2010). Social experiment meets tampon ads in Kotex campaign. TresSugar.com. Retrieved on January 24, 2011 from http://www.tressugar.com/ Kotex-Ad-Features-Woman-Asking-Men-Buy-Her-Tampons-8186439

Valenti, J. (2010). The purity myth: How America’s obsession with virginity is hurting young women. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Do you like me? Check yes or no.

February 10th, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

Ladies who are into ladies and gentlemen who are into ladies, and all others that pertain,
You want dating advice? You’ve come to the right place. Click below to check out my Cosmo-esque ‘how to’ style article on how to get women to make out with you.

http://www.thephoenixnews.com/articles/42059

Definition sexpedition

February 1st, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink


Hello friends,

I wrote an article last week for the school newspaper about definitions.

What is sex?

Does oral count too?

Is sex defined by penetration? Orgasm? None of the above? Genital to genital contact?

A couple of things for you all to ponder as you read my lovely article.

Enjoy! :)

http://www.thephoenixnews.com/articles/41170

And now I shall show you all what virginity is!

January 17th, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

Try this on for size! Here is a vlog of me reading out an outrageous abstinence-only education classroom exercise. Oh my….. goodness. Beautiful.
PS. I don’t know how to make the ‘thumbnail’ for this video attractive.

More on “The Purity Myth” to come! I will NEVER be done talking about it :)

Virgin WHAT?! Define purity… and then we’ll talk

January 16th, 2011 by the sarah | Permalink

Purity… I think of doves and girls in flowing dresses frolicking in a meadow…

So I’m currently reading one of the greatest books of all time: The Purity Myth: How America’s obsession with virginity is hurting young women by Jessica Valenti. Not only is the book written extremely well, and the research is just flawlessly chosen, etc… but the ideas and the inquisitive nature of almost every paragraph… marry me.

I am only 100 pages in so far, and I have like, 438907589478092 post its and highlights. I want to make references to a couple of things and throw my opinion at them (despite how similar my opinion is to Valenti’s… she’s a genius, so it’s all good).

So essentially the main issue revolves around
– what is purity?
– what is a virgin?
– what’s the deal with the virgin/whore dichotomy
– sexualization of youth and how this relates to the obsession with virginity
– if you have sex, you are forever tainted and may as well go live in a cave
– if you are a virgin, here… have a pony <3

oh shi–

Like me, Valenti (2010) argues that abstinence teaching is not a bad thing; however, the absence of any other teaching about sexual health is just wrong. There is a huge bias there about beliefs, and really, who are YOU to say what students believe and what they should believe?!?! Yes, YOU! .____.

Like my thesis majestically says (although in a very rough copy at the moment), sex education should focus more on the individual, relationships, experiences, and healthy living rather than the ACT of intercourse and its negative outcomes. Seriously… negativity doesn’t sit well with anyone, and although students NEED to be aware of STIs and unwanted babies, they also need to know that kissing and holding hands and the nice feeling of having your body caressed is nice when it is done in a HEALTHY way.

So why is this virginity issue such an issue??

WELL,
Whether you are a virgin or a whore* (it seems to me like you are either or in the eyes of a virginity-movement advocate), neither is really a good thing.
If you are a virgin, you are a limited sheltered “girl”** who is waiting for her husband to take her flower, etc. Boring.
If you are a whore, you have sex with everything that moves and are dirty and tainted and worthless and hopeless and ANYONE who is not a heterosexual girl purely waiting for her husband to come retrieve the tulips.

*Whore??? But she’s wearing the colour of purity!!! And doing yoga!!!

Virgin? There IS a cloud in the background. And she looks like she’s never had sex (<— what the hell does THIS look like??!?!?!?!) ** I hate this. I wish SO badly to hear about boys. What about boys? I mean, I understand the pressures are very much in the camps of us females, but what about those poor boys in high school who are being teased by their friends to ‘tap that chick’, etc.? What if a boy DOESN’T want to have sex? Or what if he does it and then regrets it? I don’t think one can argue that one gender is harder to be when growing up. In both respects, there’s a hardcore amount of pressure and obsession surrounding sexuality. But, why?

For some reason, sexuality is a big deal. *shrugs* Go worry about your mathematics grade and stop bugging others about how ‘far’ they’ve gone.

Anyway, back to the book (I could write all day) <3<3<3 Here’s something to try on for size: A symbol of abstinence: a gold rose pin handed out in schools and at Christian* youth events. The pin is attached to a small card that reads, ‘You are like a beautiful rose. Each time you engage in pre-marital sex, a precious petal is stripped away. Don’t leave your future husband holding a bare stem. Abstain.'” (Valenti, 2010, p. 32).

(Hilarious comic strip illustrating the reality of the above quote to come…)

WHAT?!

Sweet merciful mother!!!! That is just…. OMGGGGGGGG! Holy pressure cooker Batman!

*This scares me. If you are a Christian youth, you MUST be this way. It is your stigma. If you are not, you CANNOT be this way. There’s that dichotomy again. I can only imagine a girl wearing a gold pin and falling in love (properly… the definition is up for debate… interpret as you will), and wanting to say… kiss her beloved. Then, wanting to maybe you know… MORE. YOU CAN’T! YOU AREN’T MARRIED!!! But, but… she can’t afford a wedding yet… and– and– she’s only 17. NO! NO!!! AAAAHHHH!!!! *explodes*

Terrifying. And yet, true. America IS obsessed with virginity. I think Canadians are a tad preoccupied with it… but not quite obsessed? I’d like to see a Canadian rendition of this novel… probably wouldn’t be tooooooo different, methinks.

Anyway, I have nothing against beautiful gold pins. Hell, I’ll wear one. But don’t go throwing virginity into a symbol and pressuring someone to make a decision like that at such a young age. When you’re 10, all you want to do is play in the dirt and sing stupid pop songs. It’s a sweet life! Let’s teach our students to self-reflect, assess personal values, and communicate effectively in order to make these apparently “INTENSELY LIFE-CHANGING DECISIONS!!!!”

Newsflash: Having sex is like making a sandwich. It happens all the time. And it’s really not that big of a deal. It’s a deal… but not that big of one. Let the students decide how big of a deal their sexualities are before we put a giant OMG stamp on all things sexual. Seriously.

ALSO, one last thought (haha, totally kidding… I have oodles to say, but another blog TBA…)
It’s parents and adults who are so obsessed with this virginity thing. Students are only obsessed with it because adults have so much control over policy, especially extremist adults like people associated with the virginity-movements. Mad props to passionate individuals, but let’s back off a little and let diverse individuals lead diverse, beautiful, unique, and healthy lives instead of drawing out the sexual to-do list of every student ever.

To do:
1. Abstain
2. Brush teeth

^ HAH! Me.

Purity. Doves. Enough said.

Stay safe. Sexually speaking… this includes BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO abstinence.

PS. Anyone who tells you to abstain from masturbating needs a kick in the jaw. As if you can tell me I can’t touch my own body.

PSS. Where the lesbians at??!?!?! Apparently, they don’t exist in the virginity-movement. Don’t GET me started.

Sarah’s sexual words of wisdom

December 17th, 2010 by the sarah | Permalink

Because I’m hilarious, this had to be done.

Here are some Dr. Seuss-isms for you all, related to sex education, of course.

If you want to get on him, use a condom.

Communicate before you fornicate.

Educate before you fornicate.

Nothing rhymes with chlamydia, indicating that no one wants it.

Bunnies have sex, so it’s not THAT bad.

(Did she just say ‘bunnies have sex’? What a perv!)

Gonorrhea is the vaginal flu. Medicine and time will cure it.

Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids! Trich(omoniasis) is not…

Clap your hands, not your vag.

Sex can wait, masturbate! (heard this on SNL. Hilarious. Wish I thought of it first.)

Masturbate before you fornicate.

If you can’t say ‘penis’, you shouldn’t ‘use’ your penis.

If you are afraid to buy condoms, don’t get on him.

Be mature if you want some from her.

Masturbation: rub it until you smile.

Dental dams have nothing to do with the dentist or ‘beavers’.

And then there’s the ever popular:
Don’t be a fool, wrap your tool.
Don’t be a punk, cover your junk.
Don’t be a noob, use that lube.
No glove, no love.

Add your sexual education hilarity. Kids remember rhymes, so teachers, parents, and other enthusiasts, think up a rhyme to promote safe sex and knowledge. Remember: ABC, 123, you me and safe sex makes three. Precious.

Stay safe. Don’t chafe.
<3