Rachel Kramer Bussel interviews Heather Corrina, a 37-year-old Seattle resident who for the past eight years has been providing teens with non-judgmental and accurate information about safer sex via her website, Scarleteen.com.
Corrina has a new book out, “S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College.”
Asked how her identity as a feminist factors into her sex-ed philosophy, Corrina replies:
It has a pretty strong influence. One of the biggest errors we see with both sex education and with cultural sexual ethics and practices is that it’s usually done in the context of the prevailing oppressions. For instance, most sex ed is glaringly heterosexist, and presumes a heterosexual default. Much of it is overtly or covertly noninclusive when it comes to class, race, sex, gender and orientation.
Sex is often framed with some pretty decrepit and dangerous gender roles and stereotyping: assuming or encouraging female passivity or male dominance in sex and relationships, heralding vaginal intercourse as a be-all-end-all, setting the male/female romantic relationship above and beyond all others, presenting sexuality — particularly for women — as something a partner gives to you, or you to them, rather than something which exists all on its own and is sometimes chosen to be shared.
We don’t get to decide if society oppresses us as a class, be that by sex, by orientation, by color, by economic class. But we absolutely do get to decide that we are only going to be in intimate, interpersonal relationships based on equality. So, even though women are still taught to be largely passive sexually — even the vagina, a very active muscle, is more often presented as a passive receptacle than not! — we can see the negatives in that, for women and men, and opt for better.
*Sigh.* If only government-funded websites were written by smart, thoughtful sex educators …