Friday FREAK OUT! Choose Purity, OR DIE!

Making the rounds this week is a story about yet another Purity Ball (purity balls have in fact been happening since 1998), in which young girls pledge that they will abstain from sex until they get married, often pledging themselves to their fathers until their wedding day (creepy, right?!). This particular Purity Ball, ‘Choose Purity’, is getting a little more attention, though, because it was co-sponsored by a PUBLIC AGENCY, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Can I say that again? It was co-sponsored by a government entity, which has absolutely no place hosting an event that is steeped in religiosity and drenched in FEAR mongering.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that the event featured the “Toe Tag Monologues” in order to drive home the message that engaging in premarital sex means death- complete with someone being rolled out in a body bag.
20140509-185105.jpg So what does this purity ball tell us happens when you have sex? The Sun summed it up really well:

Typically four things: sexual assault, gangs, drugs and prostitution.

This is wrong on so many levels that I can barely explain it. (For some other great posts on this, click here, here, here, here, and oh so many more so just google ‘Choose Purity’ May 3, 2014.) Here are five thoughts that I can construct about this:

*Yes, there are risks involved in having sex. But so are there risks crossing the street- but people still do it. Safely. (Well, some more safely than others.)
*Yes, abstinence is a great option for some people, but not for everyone and it’s certainly not a panacea.
*Yes, we need to talk about those risks, but in a REAL way, not in an extreme, overdramatized, this-will-never-happen-to-me way.
*Yes, we need to talk about how people can be safe, by using actual, real-life, ordinary examples- because that’s where the tough stuff sits.
*Yes, it’s possible that having sex isn’t such a bad thing after all, when it’s safe, consensual, mutual, and pleasurable. (gasp!)

I guess that’s why my blog is about being fearLESS.

For more about the icky purity ball scene, check out:
Welcome to the Bizarre and Beautiful World of Purity Balls, on the Huffington Post
Purity, a photography book by David Magnussun
The Purity Pledge and America’s Modern Virginity Movement, a documentary available on YouTube, for FREE
and I’m not gonna leave this out out:
Many Teens Don’t Keep Virginity Pledges, an article outlining research results also showing that pledgers are also less likely to use condoms when they do have sex.



Friday FREAK OUT! What can we learn from First Kiss video featuring strangers kissing

Earlier this week a video was posted to Youtube called First Kiss (also known as 20 Strangers Kissing). Within 24 hours, it had over 20 million views. As of this post, it’s got over 44 million.

That is basically the definition of VIRAL. It’s been called beautiful, touching, gorgeous, and strangely sweet. It’s also be described as cringy-cute and a bad first date– probably because it was soon learned that the video is actually an ad for Wren, a clothing line. (Note, it’s being described as a viral win.)

But once you get past that the video is actually an advertisement and the individuals in the video are actors (selected in part for their attractive looks) and are not representative of your average human being and that it’s incredibly staged, there ARE lessons about sexuality that can be learned:

  • Mike Domritz, on the Date Safe Project website, points out that the video demonstrates that asking for consent- something demonstrated throughout this video- doesn’t have to ruin everything, and can in fact make everything better.
  • Daniel Garza, from the Examiner, points out that the video highlights that “you are a living, breathing, sexual person with needs.”
  • Marcie Bianco, on PolicyMic, points out that the video “gives credence to the idea of sexuality as an act, or an action. There is no difference between the nerves or intimacies of the men kissing women, the men kissing men or the women kissing other women.”

As with all my Friday Freak Outs, I encourage sexuality educators to use popular media as teachable moments. This video can spark interesting discussions around consent, sexual being-ness, and inclusivity. It could also spark discussions around intimacy, hook-up culture, and the use of sexuality in advertizing.  (It can also spark parody videos, like this one that is NSFW, or this one, which IS safe for work.) The possibilities are really endless.

Friday FREAK OUT! Revenge Porn King, Hunter Moore, arrested by FBI

20140123-222525.jpgHunter Moore, described as the revenge porn king and the most hated man on the internet, has been arrested, charged with ‘conspiracy to access a protected computer’, among other charges. Moore was the founder of the now-defunct website, where users posted pictures (usually of ex-girlfriends/boyfriends, usually with little/no clothing) without the knowledge/consent of the photo’s subject. Moore’s site was particularly nasty, since alongside that compromising photo, the subject’s name and other identifying information was included, so it would be certain to come up in a google search. After much public and private backlash, threats, and serious ‘come-to-jesus’ sit-downs with the FBI, Moore sold the site to an anti-bullying website,


Moore’s arrest is some great news for advocates who have been trying to outlaw revenge porn in the first place, such as End Revenge Porn. Yes, Moore has been indicted on charges of actually hacking into personal computers to get his content- which is definitely illegal, while revenge porn sites themselves remain lawful in many states (for now). But Moore’s arrest brings awareness to this issue and highlights the need to talk about using technology in healthy ways- not as a method to take revenge on a partner, not as a method to relish another person’s humiliation, and not as a method to take advantage of someone’s vulnerability. I don’t have a legal solution to revenge porn- there are so many legal intricacies regarding free speech, right to privacy, etc, that it’s definitely in a lawyer/policymakers realm, and my expertise is in education.

SO how can educators help prevent revenge porn from ruining someone’s life?
– Talk about what revenge porn is. By defining and describing it, you will raise the awareness of its impact.
– Discuss how revenge porn can affect a victim. Share some stories of people who were subjects of photos posted without their permission.
– Examine the reasons why someone would post a photo as an act of revenge, and then encourage alternative approaches to responding to hurt feelings.
– Explore what part consumers of revenge porn play. Demonstrate how if there is no audience for revenge porn, then its value will decrease.
– Ask how peers can influence each other to make responsible choices regarding taking photos, having photos taken, and consuming photos.

Be mindful that while you may be tempted to come down hard on revenge porn and denounce it left and right (as I would like to do!), it may not open the door for behavioral change for those who are already engaging in revenge porn (as a poster and/or consumer). As an educator, facilitate the discussion with a neutral perspective and let the criticism come from the participants, as it surely will. I’m no fan of revenge porn and the thought of it makes me cringe, but we have to put those cringes aside in order to reach those who have already bought into it.


Friday FREAK OUT! “Daddy, I thought a Weiner was a hot dog!”

This week the news has been absolutely inundated with commentary about mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. Anything else that has happened is sitting under this giant cloud of sexting, scandal, lies and politics. Much has been said about the 23-year old he recently corresponded with, his relationship with his wife Huma Abedin, and how he has dropped in the polls this week. This story has been covered so broadly, I can’t imagine that young people aren’t hearing about this.

Are you ready to answer questions from kids about Weiner? Think about your responses to these questions (and feel free to post your responses in the comments!):

  1. Who is this Weiner guy, and why are people talking about him all the time?
  2. How come people are saying Weiner is a bad man?
  3. What is sexting?
  4. Why shouldn’t politicians send pictures of their privates to other people?
  5. If Weiner made a mistake a few years ago, how come he did it again?
  6. I thought Weiner was a hot dog. Is that his REAL name?
  7. Who is Carlos Danger?

While I am not going to provide suggested answers, I will offer some guidelines for answering questions…

  • Answer the questions that children ask- don’t brush them off, because then they might not ask you any more questions.
  • Answer questions honestly.
  • Be brief in your responses- if a child has more questions, they will certainly ask!
  • Use age-appropriate resources to supplement your answers.
  • Admit it if you don’t know the answer- it’s ok if you don’t know everything.
  • Show appreciation to the young person for asking questions about things they say.
  • Emphasize the importance of learning more and understanding media representations of politics.

Friday FREAK OUT! Gay teen denied Eagle Scout Award, despite his project on tolerance

Ryan Andresen

The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the “Aims of Scouting.” They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.


The methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.



The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.



The patrol method gives Boy Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through their elected representatives.


Outdoor Programs


Boy Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Boy Scouts gain an appreciation for God’s handiwork and humankind’s place in it. The outdoors is the laboratory for Boy Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources.



Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.


Association with Adults

Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to boys, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.


Personal Growth

As Boy Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Boy Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with his Scoutmaster help each Boy Scout to determine his growth toward Scouting’s aims.


Leadership Development

The Boy Scout program encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Boy Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.



The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.

Check out this Huffington Post article, outlining the ordeal.