Heather is the executive director of and lead educator at Scarleteen.com, the inclusive online resource for teen and young adult sex education and information which she founded in 1998. She is the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College; a founder of the All Girl Army; director of the CONNECT teen sexual health outreach program for King County through the Cedar River Clinics/Feminist Women’s Health Center, and a sexual health consultant for the young women’s site orb28. She is also a member of the editorial advisory board for the American Journal of Sexuality Education and a contributor to the forthcoming 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in online and print publictions including the anthologies Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, Viscera, Aqua Erotica, Zaftig: Well-Rounded Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 1 & 2, Shameless: An Intimate Erotica and in the forthcoming anthology Breakthrough Bleeding: Essays on The Thing Women Spend A Quarter Of Their Time Doing, But No One’s Supposed To Talk About, and her photographic work has been shown in several gallery shows and publications.
She was the founder of Scarletletters.com in the nineties, the first online sexuality and arts hub for women online, and has the either laudable or embarrassing reputation of having one of the longest running personal journals online. Also a lead plantiff for the ACLU in the case against COPA, in 2007, she was recognized for her activist work in sexuality and sexual health by the National Sexuality Resource Center with a Champions of Sexual Literacy Award. In 2009 she was awarded the Society for the Scientific Study of
Sexuality, Western Region’s Public Service Award and an Our Bodies,
Ourselves’ Women’s Health Heroes Award. Previous to her work in sexuality, Heather was a Montessori and alternative classroom educator for several years. A Chicago native, she now lives and works in Seattle, Washington.
Whatever the gender of a person or their sexual partner is, no one ever has to have any kind of sex or have sex any given way if it doesn't work for them or it doesn't feel good, physically, emotionally, or both.
The expectation that men will always go for sex or don't have sexual boundaries is super problematic. So, how do you deal with men who feel challenged, and how do we move toward a mindset about men's sexuality that's better for everyone?
Anyone, of any gender or any age, may not feel like it is best for them to choose to be sexual in a given situation, even when presented with an opportunity for sex, even when that opportunity is with someone they have a strong desire to have sex with.
Should a mom provide condoms for her son or not? What about dealing with times she knows her son and a girlfriend will have a house to themselves? Where's the line between "condoning" sex and being a sexually-supportive parent?
Want to do your part to help prevent the spread of HIV this World AIDS Day? One of the easiest ways we can all do that is to use condoms correctly and consistently, avoiding common mishaps which can result in rips or breaks.
Have a partner who wants to step away from sex with you or take a break? If you're wondering what to do to change that, the only right answer is nothing at all. We need to always respect a person's sexual limits and boundaries, whatever their gender.
For someone choosing to hold off on sex until marriage, what to do about the fact that most other people, including potential partners, will not have made the same choice? How much should your own sexual ethics and values hinge on those of others?
If you're worried in advance about pain with sex that involves vaginal entry and thinking about taking a painkiller, think twice. There are sounder ways to avoid sexual pain and experience pleasure that honor your body rather than numbing it out.
Do "all guys" really always want more sexually than you really want or feel ready to do yourself? No. But even if they did, that doesn't mean it'll always be right for you -- or them! -- to engage in sex you don't feel ready for yet or don't really want yourself.
Navigating sex and sexual relationships after assault can be challenging: how do you deal with a relationship that seemed to facilitate healing at first, but now seems to be standing in the way, especially when the roof over your head seems to require it?
If and when we want to have sex in such a way where we only think of our own wants and needs, we can always have that easily with masturbation. But once more than one person is involved in sex, more than one person needs to be seen, heard and considered.
Knowing the issues with clitoral versus vaginal orgasms in terms of history and the politics around women and sexuality, how do you rectify when orgasm feels different based on those different kinds of stimulation?
How do you tell a partner that you're not comfortable with something they want to do, whether you have sexual abuse in your history or not? You tell them you're not comfortable with something they want to do.
How do you get out of an abusive situation and get yourself safe? By doing all you can to get sound help as soon as you can and to leave as safely as possible. It's so easy to feel stuck in abuse or other unsafe situations, but we can get unstuck.
How can you tell Mom you've become a sexual adult without disappointing her? How can you ask her for birth control? How can you disclose being sexually active? And is it okay to use her sex toy eithout asking?
Do you have to worry that simply by virtue of being a male person with a sexuality, you'll abuse someone? No. Being a certain sex, having a certain gender or having a sexuality does not mean a person has any kind of innate predilection to abuse.
Depending on your view, the answer to that question might seem really obvious or very tricky and hazy. However, it's a phrase and concept that's bandied about a lot, yet is rarely explained. A group of Australian researchers finally defined it clearly and holistically.
The new film Let's Talk About Sex was created with the intention of sparking public dialogue about and family communication on teen sex and sexuality issues. Here's my take on whether the film is giving the right message to the right audiences.
Does vaginal intercourse hurt? Feel like you're the only one in the whole wide world who doesn't think it's the best thing ever? Here's a reality check and some places to get started to ditch sexual pain and find pleasure instead.
Gender and gender identity are complex and diverse: there's not just one way of being a girl, being trans gender, and those also aren't your only choices. So how do you figure out where you're at when the little boxes don't seem to fit?
If you've been faking orgasm and want help on how to come clean and have a talk about it that'll lay the groundwork for a better sex life that's about and allows for what's real, we've got you covered.
Ages of consent tend to vary from around the age of 15 - 18 in different states. But what kind of sex they're talking about, and what kinds of charges might be involved, is where we see a lot more variation.
Rape is a violent crime, and it is normal for any of us to experience trauma from a violent crime being committed to, on or inside of us. And it is a unique trauma: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, psychological, interpersonal.
Heather shares her personal experiences growing up queer, and interviews Dan Savage about his new video project, It Gets Better, designed to reach out to gay youth in the wake of the devastating suicide of gay teen, Billy Lucas.
I dug deeper on the Sex and School study, and found a great deal of misinformation being reported about it. For starters, the results were misrepresented, and the words used in many headlines are nowhere in the study itself.
Being inclusive of disability and persons with disability in sex education, our sexualities and sex lives is critical because it and we are part of human sexuality and sexuality is part of those of us with disability.
A bisexual teenager asks about coming out to her friends when they've already express dislike of lesbians. Putting bisexuality into a different context may help a person who isn't getting it to understand it better.
More often than not, personal or cultural definitions of sex are also frequently sexist, hetero-sexist or gender-normative, even though many of us in the world, and many of our sexual experiences, don't fit in those tiny boxes.
That question probably either sounds like a really important one or a really stupid one, depending on your view. But I want the answer regardless, and am seriously tired of waiting for it. So I went ahead and asked it myself.
I'm 23 and was raised Christian and sex has always made me feel guilty. I got married a year ago and now can't enjoy sex at all. Am I being punished for having sex before marriage? Should I just accept a life without sex?
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