S.E.X. talk WordsAndPictures: Heather Corinna provides accurate information for teens
by Samantha Hodges
Heather Corinna is a longtime advocate of what she calls "sex education for the real world."
Corinna, a former Minnesotan who is the founder of scarleteen.com, a website that aims to deliver "the best contemporary teen sex ed on the net," was in the Twin Cities recently to promote her new book, "S.E.X.: the all-you-need-to-know progressive sexuality guide to get you through high school and college." She sat down to talk with the Minnesota Women's Press about young women and "S.E.X."
"Finding information [about sex] is not the hardest thing in the world," Corinna said. In fact, she thinks it's just the opposite: Young adults are faced with the daunting task of sifting through piles of biased and inaccurate, but readily available, sex-related information. She hopes that "S.E.X." will assist teens and young adults who are seeking accurate and comprehensive information.
In "S.E.X.," Corrina outlines everything from anatomical basics and mechanics to the spectrum of sexual orientation and "safer sex" for the heart. So how does an adult woman have such an in-depth understanding of young-adult sexuality? Corinna credits her awareness to scarleteen.com. Every day, around 30,000 people access the site to read articles like "Magical Cups and Bloody Brides" and ask questions forum style. Some of the topics discussed include sexual health, relationships and parenting. Corinna, along with several volunteers and staff members, responds to the posts all day and sometimes well into the night. "I give the information I know is accurate ... it is up to [the reader] to do what they want," she said. Through her time spent reading and answering posts on the site, Corinna is able to assess the needs of young adults and give back in a meaningful way: "I wake up sometimes and think: How did this end up being my job?"
Corinna said that "S.E.X." is a culmination of her work on scarleteen. Writing a book enabled her to expand on topics she had to condense online, and produce something concrete that can be passed around, especially to those without access to computers.
It took her just two years to write the book, but six years to publish it. Several publishers wanted to take out significant chunks of the book, including the section on birth control. Eventually, Corinna found an agreeable publisher in Avalon Publishing Group and the book was officially released May 22.
"S.E.X." itself is revolutionary as a feminist, GLBT-friendly and overall progressive collection of sexual education material. It offers an alternative and uplifting view of sex. "There is this pervasive cultural attitude if sex isn't about reproduction, it's not OK. Sex outside of these frameworks can be fulfilling, too," Corinna said. Although the book promotes healthy sexuality, it neither encourages nor discourages teens from engaging in sexual activity. In fact, Corinna prides herself on the open and inclusive nature of the volume. Many people define sex as simply being sexual intercourse, an end of sorts, she said, but she sees things differently "Sex isn't this box that you open and close. Some of it is just flipping things from the norm...[sex] just earnestly has your pleasure in mind." Corinna strives to make information available, not push or pull anyone from a sexual path. She said that sex is whatever feels comfortable. "Heck," she said, "you can have sex all by yourself."