Help me find a great book on sex and relationships for my teenager!
May 10, 2021 2:22 PM   Subscribe

As the title says, snowflakes inside.

On the way home from school today, teen DTMFA (14yo) mentioned that the sex and relationship knowledge she's gained via school is woefully inadequate. In her words: "They've basically just been like 'Here's the names of your body parts, good luck bitches!'" (I know they've covered STBBIs and so on so it's not quite as dramatic as all that, but as far as I know sex ed here still does a pretty poor job of teaching kids how to form and maintain healthy, positive sexual and romantic relationships).

She knows that I'm up for answering any questions she has, and I'm about to send her the link to Scarleteen, but she's a big reader and might appreciate a book as well if there's one out there that you think is brilliant. A few musts, from my perspective:

Must be written in a way that is empowering for young women, if not explicitly feminist

Must have a strong focus on LGBTQ+ sex and relationships, not just an "add-on" chapter

Must include a strong focus on healthy relationships, including consent

Feel free to also recommend any other resources (websites, etc) that you think might be helpful!
posted by DTMFA to Education (15 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Sex is a Funny Word: a Book about bodies, feelings and You is GREAT

and I haven't read Wait, What? A comic book guide to relationships, bodies, and growing up, but it looks good and is written by the founder of Scarleteen

thanks for doing this!
posted by Geameade at 2:33 PM on May 10, 2021 [9 favorites]

Here is a recent Metafliter post about Our Bodies, Ourselves turning 50. It hasn't been updated since 2011 but is feminist in its intent and content.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 3:10 PM on May 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

2nd more enthusiastically than just a favorite Sex is a Funny Word. [aside: The little tiny kid version, "What makes a baby" is the best little kid baby book every.] So very very inclusive.

Contains a whole chapter on consent if I remember correctly.

[I don't yet have a teenager, so can't say anything about how it is received, just appreciate the content.]
posted by lab.beetle at 3:17 PM on May 10, 2021

We loved What Makes a Baby so I have Sex is a Funny Word in reserve for the coming years.

Scarleteen (website) is pretty great.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 3:20 PM on May 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

The Oh Joy Sex Toy people have a book called "Let's talk about it". I haven't read it, but their comics show a variety of relationships, and might be worth looking into.
posted by platypus of the universe at 3:25 PM on May 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Rookie (Wikipedia) was an online magazine started by a badass teenage girl and all the content was contributed by teenagers (predominantly girls). It shut down in 2018 and is now archived. Link to the archived content tagged with "sex education". There is a lot of stuff on LGBTQ+ relationships and sex. They did an excellent job addressing issues like consent. They also have a series called Ask A Grown where grown-up women and men are interviewed and share their wisdom. There's likely to be some interesting stuff about sex and relationships there as well.

Also I think it's so so so awesome that you asked this question and that you're finding resources for your daughter.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 3:27 PM on May 10, 2021

I've got the Oh Joy Sex Toy book "Let's talk about it" for my teens, and it's incredibly inclusive and has lots of information about body parts (detached in their presentation from gender), healthy relationships, consent and safe sex methods. I would recommend.
posted by slightlybewildered at 3:31 PM on May 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Seconding Scarleteen. Please delete if I'm not supposed to promote my own company's stuff, but The Quick And Easy Guides are a great place to start, and the Queer and Trans identities one has some fantastic stuff about healthy relationships that literally would have changed my life, had I read it as a teen. We also have 2 books that may be appropriate for your kid by the Oh Joy Sex Toy folks called "Drawn to Sex".
posted by fillsthepews at 3:41 PM on May 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Maybe old classics, The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition: Comfort, Alex: 9780307587787: Books. Childhood me remembers it as a bit hippy free love like at least for the time. Seems it's still updating. (At least way better than that 50's era Handbook of Marriage on my grandparent's shelf which was a fun read.)
posted by zengargoyle at 4:53 PM on May 10, 2021

One of the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves wrote a similar book specifically targeted at teenagers called Changing Bodies, Changing Lives, which my parents gave me when I was young. It was very informative, non-judgmental, and I found it very helpful at the time.
posted by number9dream at 5:55 PM on May 10, 2021

Larry Gonick is a graphic novelist whose "Cartoon Guide to...." books are so well-researched they are used as supplementary reading in colleges. He did a Cartoon Guide to Sex that addresses everything from the evolutionary origins of sexual reproduction to various physical concerns to the emotional ramifications of sexual activity to the legal and political ramifications of various sexual health issues, with a lot of emphasis put on health and consent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 PM on May 10, 2021

The Guide to Getting It On is pretty comprehensive, inclusive, funny, and great. Get the most updated version.
posted by bananacabana at 7:09 PM on May 10, 2021

Definitely NOT the Joy of Sex, which is pretty heteronormative and has a lot of the authors particular turn ones written in as statements of fact.

The Guide to Getting It On is comprehensive and would have blown my mind at 14 but that was in the pre-internet days.
posted by jeoc at 7:16 PM on May 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

I’ll second the graphic novel “wait, what?” As being lgbtq friendly. I bought it for my preteens, and read it, and i really liked it.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 9:02 PM on May 10, 2021

A Quick and Easy Guide to Consent is very good and meets all your standards.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:02 PM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

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