A Love Letter From Us To You: The Best Of

From birth control to body hair, our Love Letters panel of diverse women (now in their 20’s and 30’s) share their personal experiences from high school and beyond- and the advice they wish they had received growing up. Catch up on the ‘best of’ highlights below, and click the links to view more perspectives on each topic.

On Feminism: “What does feminism mean to me now? I don’t have the tidy philosophy that I did in high school or college. But, in practice, it means making choices – sometimes hard choices, like staying at work – to keep myself economically empowered. It means not setting myself up to be screwed if something happened to us or to him. It means protecting myself against pressure to stay with him for economic reasons.” –Miss Rosebud [read more]

On Parents: “If I was required to drink a glass of milk at dinner, I wanted to know why, and if it was so healthy, why they weren’t drinking one, too. And it was my body, why did they get to dictate what went into it… I needed a logical answer to every question, and I was also keenly aware of what I felt to be “injustice.” That they had complete authority, which seemed like a grave injustice to me, and I was constantly fighting them. The more I argued for autonomy, the more my parents tried to control me, and the more I rebelled from their control.” –Miss Peony [read more]

On Dangerous Relationships: “I was seemingly in control of every aspect of my life except this one, and I didn’t want anyone to know because a.) I loved this person and thought I could help him learn how to love and trust someone, since he had been abused as a child, and b.) I was embarrassed: I was a confident, smart, funny, no-nonsense feminist. This went against everything I believed in and the life I had built for myself.” –Miss Bluebells [read more]

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Love Letters: Hashtag Feminism

Love Letters

‘Love Letters’ is a Petal + Sass blog feature that regularly asks a group of diverse women in their 20’s and 30’s about their experiences with health, sex, emotional wellness, body image, college, careers – and what they wish they had known themselves as teenagers. Visit the Love Letters’ To My Former Self page to learn more about the contributors. 

Question Posed: What does feminism mean to you? Did you think much about feminism when you were in high school, or did it become more or less important to you later in life? 

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Hooking Up: Are We Ready?

Hooking Up

‘Hooking up’ is like a hurricane category 5 downgrade: not exactly full blown “sex,” but certainly anything and everything in its path that could be swept up along the way: lips, fingers, mouths, car seat upholstery, tongues, genitals, Netflix…

What we loosely define as ‘hooking up’ is a broad spectrum of sexual activities, and yet not all activities are treated, felt, or viewed equally – not on a personal or societal level. (If your grandfather ever found out about that pool house incident last summer he’d likely never look you in the eye again; your parents might start looking into military school; and your peers would probably assume you have a sex position emoji app.) So when is it ok to hook up? What are we to think when we hear that #SoAndSo hooked up Friday night after the party? Is everyone doing it? Should I be doing it? Is everyone comfortable doing it, or are they doing it just because they think everyone is doing it?

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IUDs + Me: All the Gritty, Stringy Details

I should put what up wear?!

I should put what up where?!

We interviewed a health care professional about all the gritty details when it comes to getting an IUD – so you don’t have to (but it doesn’t hurt to ask around..).

Q: Ok, why on earth would a girl get an IUD (intrauterine device) when there are less invasive forms of birth control out there? 

A: IUDs are a great option because you can ‘set it and forget it.’ With an IUD, you don’t have to remember to take anything at the same time every day, and you can have as much or as little sex you want as soon as it’s in place.

Specifically, if I met someone tomorrow, I could have sex and not have to wait for a week for any hormonal birth control to start working (though if it IS someone you just met, it’s certainly best to use a condom regardless. You can still catch STDs). With an IUD the contraception “coverage” is instantaneous. You don’t have to worry if you took your pill yesterday, or if you removed your vaginal ring during the wrong week (little things like that could unintentionally lead to pregnancy). 

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Is It Safe If A Guy Pulls Out?

Toilet Roll Does Not Protect Against Unwanted Pregnancy.

Toilet Roll Does Not Protect Against Unwanted Pregnancy. Or Anything Else.

In a generic Google search, the phrase “is it safe if…” immediately autofills with “…a guy pulls out.”

Let’s save you the data on your cell phone for this one: No, it’s not safe if a guy pulls out.

Honestly and statistically speaking, sure. You might just dodge a few voracious swimmers from seeking and destroying your egg (sperm are like tadpole versions of heat seeking missiles). Pulling out before ejaculation could significantly lower your odds of getting pregnant, but all bets are on baby once an unsheathed penis descends upon the vaginal slip n slide (teens do still use slip n slides, according to Google.)

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Survivors of Sexual Assault: You Are Not Ruined

survivors of sexual assault

If you have experienced sexual assault, it is important to realize you are not alone, and you are not ruined. Your body is yours, and only you can decide what to truly and willingly share with another person. You may not always receive this message in school or from the media, but your choices are important – and you are still a whole person worthy of respect, personal decision making, and intimacy.

If you have endured the physical and emotional trauma associated with unwanted sexual contact, assault and rape, unfortunately you must also deal with conflicting societal messages. Broken self perception and diminished self worth is a long lasting side effect of sexual abuse, particularly in a society that condones abstinence-only education, creates a culture of slut shaming, and has a lack of physical and mental health resources. The system is broken; you are not.

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Sex Ed: Why The Bedroom Belongs in the Classroom

It's hard to make a pencil and sharpener look sexy but use your imagination here.

It’s hard to make a pencil and sharpener look sexy but use your imagination here.

There’s an interesting [read: incredibly dangerous] tension between teenagers who do not want to talk about sexual health with their teachers, teachers who often cannot inform students any further than an ineffective abstinence-only education, and the parents who threaten legal action when their children are introduced to the concept of intercourse as anything more than a marital, procreational act.

It’s completely understandable that teens feel squeamish about sex education in the classroom. Why? Teens get completely mixed messages. In the media, everyone is having very sexy sex. In the classroom, the lesson plans sound like they were created in a different century: sex is taboo, secretive, and illicit before marriage. Of course teens are clamming up in the classroom, feeling guilty about their actions after hours, and engaging in high-risk sexual activity regardless.

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